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Wildflower Sketchbook Project: Part 1

Lately, I have found myself fascinated by the profusion of wildflowers I am seeing around me. In the pots in my balcony garden, from between the tiles of the paved pathway around my house and along the busy pavements on my way to work - every day I seem to find some new and unknown-to-me flower growing wild.

This fascination started a few months back. Malavika, an artist and friend from India, and I were discussing starting a sketchbook project in 2022. We bounced around a few ideas and zeroed in on wildflowers around us. Both of us realized that we knew very little about such plants and it would be fun (and challenging) to study and paint them.

Initially, I was skeptical; I wondered if I would even find enough wildflowers around me to fill an entire sketchbook. I of course couldn’t foresee then how silly I was to worry. Since the beginning of the year, I have discovered many wild flowering plants growing around me. They must always have been there, which makes me wonder, how did I miss them before?!

One of the first plants I spotted was one that was growing in my small balcony garden - the Oxalis corniculata or creeping woodsorrel. It has clover-like leaves and tiny yellow flowers and is actually edible. And according to Wiki, this oxalis variety is native to Southeastern Asia.

Another plant I was excited to learn about was the Achyranthes aspera or chaff flower. Seems like this plant is widely known; I asked for the ID on Instagram and so many people responded with the correct name. Also called apamarga in Sanskrit, it is a plant belonging to the Amaranth family and is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicines according to Wiki.

Capsella bursa-pastoris or the shepherd’s purse was a plant that I had seen many times but had no clue about the name. I am sure many of you will also recognize this plant. The little heart-shaped fruits are rather unforgettable!

Mazus pumilus or Japanese mazus was the second entry for February (we plan on one entry every fortnight) and the final one for this post. I’ve become quite fascinated with studying the plant and am currently in the process of planning a larger painting of it. The Japanese mazus flower is only about 9mm in size so it’s easy to miss them. But this is likely their flowering season and I have found them growing in gardens in hundreds! They are the happiest sight - tiny little specks of purple amidst the green.

Japanese mazus growing wild near my house.

That's all for now about the project; I'll share another part with more wildflowers next month. If you would like to see all the sketchbook pages, by both Malavika and me, make sure to follow the hashtag #wildflowersketchbookindia on Instagram.

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