Plant Speaks, 1


Plants Speak, 1. 2015. Manuscript #109. 11 x 6-1/8 x ¾ inches. 54 pages.

DSC02301Since September 2014 my research has involved culling through historical papers, correspondence, and publications on the subject of early Maine botanists at the University of Maine Special Collections, Orono campus. Reading historical information and actual correspondence gives one the excitement of renewed discovery and alternate research directions. This project continues to grow and requires endless categorizing to keep the information and ideas organized. It is a puzzle – a big puzzle. . .

DSC02230This is the first in a series of books inspired by a discarded herbarium collection now in my possession. A herbaria or plant mount is a rectangular sheet of paper with a pressed and dried plant specimen attached to it. A label identifies the genus species name of the plant, the collector, the herbarium, and notes and location where the plant was found. This discarded collection contains specimens from as far away as India and from as early as 1817.

The text is by the artist and also plant labels and a botanical list of pondweed from found herbaria. Potamogeton (po·ta·mo·ge·ton, from the Latin, potamos: a current or brook and geiton: a neighbor as adjoining one’s ground) is a large genus of aquatic herbs called pondweed, which are important as food for waterfowl and are found in quiet waters worldwide with the greatest diversity found in temperate regions of North America.

The illustrations are watery landscapes and line drawings of Potamogeton natans L. The book is painted and lettered in watercolor on Katie MacGregor handmade paper and Arches text wove papers. The painted paper binding and clamshell box were completed by Joelle Webber of Mermaid Bindery.


Thanks for reading this blog.

Nancy Leavitt

Priscilla Juvelis

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2 Responses to Plant Speaks, 1

  1. Jane Brenner says:

    Nancy, I wish I could experience that book “in the flesh” as it were! Very interesting. Coincidentally, I am reading a wonderful book, “The Naming of Names, The search for order in the world of plants” by Anna Pavord. Beautifully designed and well written, it’s published by Bloomsbury in 2005. It shows the earliest renderings of plants, around 370 BC.
    Are you attending the conference this summer in my “neighborhood”, The Passionate Pen, at Sonoma State University? Thanks for posting your lovely and inspiring work.

  2. nancy, it’s exciting to see where this collection has taken you…i would love to see this book up close! i’ve found that the contact prints from the portland class and from the gift plants from students that i brought home to work with are very different from, say, those i make here in the north country. i wonder how place affects perception as a botanist, as an artist…

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