Bryant is responsible for today’s photographs and write-up. He scribes:
The other week, while I was contemplating topics for a series, Daniel handed me a book entitled Nature’s Palette by David Lee. The book is written in a combination of scientific and layman’s terms, and describes various aspects of colour in plants. It is a fascinating read and provides the inspiration and much of the source material for the following series on plant colour. In this series, I aim to investigate the functional, structural, historical, philosophical, economical and sociological connotations of colour in plants.
The first photograph is of a Camassia quamash meadow with the edge of a Quercus garryana grove in the background, taken at the Mt. Tzouhalem Ecological Reserve on Vancouver Island. The second image was taken at Harewood Plains near Nanaimo, British Columbia. The blues are again Camassia quamash while the pink in the background is Plectritis congesta.
When the Garry oak (or Oregon white oak) meadows and woodlands are in full bloom, they demonstrate some of the most vibrant and extraordinary mass blooms on the west coast of Canada. Unfortunately, Garry oak ecosystems are also among the most threatened ecosystems in all of Canada. When walking through a scene like this, it is hard not to be overcome by a feeling of euphoria, almost as if the vibrant colours have a physical effect on the body. Our appreciation for the beauty of this spectacular bloom is perhaps the reason why there is still Garry oak habitat left, and why there is such a dedicated group of people who protect these remaining sites.
Human attraction to plant colour has existed for millennia. In fact, a Neanderthal skeleton dating roughly 60,000 years old was found buried with concentrated flower remains scattered around the skull, suggesting that a wreath of flowers was placed beneath his head before he was buried. Although there are skeptics of this finding, David Lee is convinced that even the Neanderthals attributed aesthetic value to colourful plants.
More recently, studies have shown that lush landscapes can have beneficial psychological and physical affects on patients in the process of recovering from medical issues. A highly-cited 1984 study observed that post-operative patients recovered more quickly when they had a room with a view of a natural setting as opposed to a view of a brick wall. A more recent experiment, with results published in 2010, concluded that photographs and paintings of a natural landscapes consisting mainly of blues and green are more likely to have a calming effect on hospital patients compared to some types of abstract art.