Leaf of the Day: Tassel Flower

The Tassel Flower is a pretty little weed. It caught my eye when I first came to Florida. It’s very unassuming and inhabits scrub and waste ground which is exactly where this came from, just by the side of the main road by the apartment. It looks very much like a dandelion type of plant. The same sort of flower and a similar leaf. I am not sure exactly how to describe this leaf. Its most interesting feature is that the flowers are not yellow but a very beautiful reddy orange! My next post will, I think, be a leaf shape chart as I need to get more familiar with the names.
Its Latin name is Emilia Javanica.

Tassel Flower

Leaf of the Day: Fern.. of some kind

This is a small part of a fern from Shady Park. I have not yet been able to identify it.

The trouble with identification.
I am having some problems finding out what some of the local plants are.
Using leaves alone makes identification hard because it is very difficult to find the perfect specimen. One random leaf seldom looks like the sample in the guide books. They could really do with a range of shapes that together define the species. It is just the same with people of course. Reaching to consult his field guide to human beings, a passing alien would struggle to find one to fit the standard.
I very much like these odd irregularities… there are quite a few here, leafy and human.


Leaf of the Day: Water Plantain and Carl Doddies

A leaf from the lake at Shady Park on Morse Avenue in Winter Park. It’s not very shady.. at least the lakes aren’t. I walked there today and again there were some delightful birds. This time a little flock of very skittish white ibis. They were rushing about, up and down the banks of the lake and unlike the herons they move very quickly. A big grey heron floated backwards and forwards across the water casually avoiding an annoying yappy poodle. Charlie’s owner admitted that despite his bravado he is quite nervous of these big regal birds. I can see his point.

This rather simple leaf is not so simple to draw, with those long, simply curving lines! The vein pattern was interesting and of course, learning that it was a plantain, I could see the leaf resemblance to the common plantain which reminded me of Carl Doddies, a game we used to play when we were young.

Water Plantain

Carl Doddies

The game of Carl Doddies is played with the flower heads and stalks of the common plantain. My mother was brought up in Scotland and she must have taught us. It was said to have originated from a ” beheading” game played in the Jacobite times, the names derived from Bonnie Prince Charlie, “Carl” and King George, “Doddie“. You and your opponent each take a plantain flower and take it in turns to try to knock the head off their opponent’s stem. Whoever beheads first is the winner. A variation is to loop the stem over itself and shoot the head as far as possible. The one that lands farthest away is the winner! .. a more civilized version of shot putting.
A more prosaic explanation of the name is simply “curly headed”

Leaf of the Day: Geranium

Today I went out early again and found a very funny little heron. It was stalking something very very slowly. Even the slowest photographer would have been able to get a good shot. I have never seen such incredible slow motion walking.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my sketchbook with me but took some photos. I will post these and others soon, linked to Flickr .
This geranium leaf is a small, very ordinary type, just two tones of green. Some geraniums were hit by the freeze but not too badly. I am not sure of this variety.

A word about the drawing
At the moment I am just using ordinary cartridge paper in a sketchbook for these first drawings, so, when doing fine shading, the texture of the paper tends to be picked up and the pencils can catch causing uneven shading. I will use Bristol board or a HP watercolour surface for the bigger and more complicated drawings. Many years ago I used to use Schoellershammer 4R which was a super hard surface paper for ink and pencil with just a nice bit of tooth. I am not sure if it is still available ..I think they have reissued the 4G .. ( very smooth) which I will try to find here. If anyone knows of a supplier I would be very grateful.


image 5″x6″

The Big Beautiful Sun

One week on and the big beautiful sun has replaced the big ugly freeze. We live by Lake Killarney and this morning I went out early to see what was going on. The bird community was getting on with its very busy day. Immediately by the jetty there was a little blue heron hunting in the reedy grasses, a pair of mallards hanging around the boats and a delightful fat little moorhen who pottered up and down for about an hour. The large white egret was perched on a nearby mooring post and two of the beautiful anhingas flew down from their roost to snake their way across the lake, no wonder they are called the snake bird. They swim with their bodies so low in the water that only their long flexing necks can be seen. A huge flock of cormorants settled in the centre of the lake, seagulls flew up and down and the ever present big dark vultures were slowly circling way up in brilliant blue sky. The osprey I had seen a couple of days ago carrying a fish in its talons passed by high and fast and behind me in the pines on the shore the excruciating squeaky grackles flocked, flew and regrouped before dashing off. How wonderful to have all this just off the I4 motorway!
I was looking at the reedy grass to draw. It’s a marsh grass of some sort,
Maybe Salt Marsh Grass or West Indian marsh grass, I don’t think its Sawgrass. It was full of dragon flies well damselflies to be precise. I could see 2 types at least, the blue ones and the small red ones. I was going to try to identify them but was dismayed to read that there are over 500 varieties in Florida. Red and blue will have to do for now.
It was a beautiful morning. The water was so still the reflections were perfect.

A few pages from my 6 x 8 “sketchbook. Birds are hard to sketch, herons are easier as they move very slowly as they hunt. here is the marsh grass, the moorhen and the little blue heron.

Leaf of the Day: Dandelion

Just a quick little drawing today as I have been out and about taking photos and doing some on the spot sketching.This one grows along with the dollarweed in the shrubbery. It’s a young small leaf only 4 inches long. I dont know what species it is there are only leaves at the moment.

The Dandelion

Leaf of the Day: Umbrella Plant

Oh the poor umbrella plant .. unhappy victim of many a dusty airless UK front room. Here in Florida it thrives and is a sturdy and happy thing. This one lives in close companionship with the little oak, again at the bottom of my steps. Its just a plain green one. The Schefflera Arboricola. Its not so easy to draw. It is my first compound leaf, which really means I have had to draw 10 leaves, not just one. .

The Umbrella Plant

the drawing can be bought for $40 plus postage

Leaf of the Day: Moneywort or Dollarweed

What a delightful little weed this is. It has insinuated itself into the plant borders and grassy bits of wasteland here with some success. You can’t help but appreciate its fragile qualities which are undoubtedly offset by its invasive and tenacious roots and its clever way of creeping along.. some roots and stems spring from the same point, then it must shoot out a runner and repeat itself and on and on.. It would be very interesting to see its progress in a time-laspse film
It is tiny.. the biggest leaves are about 1″ in diameter. The biggest leaf here is only 3/4 of an inch. The shape is peltate. I am going to draw a chart of the different shapes very soon.
I have a fondness for some weeds and this is one of them.

Moneywort or Dollarweed

Leaf of the Day: Yet another Oak..the Scarlet Oak

On an early morning mercy-dash to the chemists in the “mawl” across the road to get dental repair stuff I found this pretty leaf. Its tree is decidedly deciduous and has shed quite a few more leaves after the freeze. There are several of these dainty trees decorating the car park of the store and I would imagine they are ornamental oaks, not growing too big to uproot either the carpark, or the store. The leaf shape, without the indents, would be much rounder than my other oaks. Its a beautiful colour as it has its autumn tints still.. red gold green and yellow.. (colour will follow, its a promise)

Scarlet Oak

image size 6 x 7″