Though William Bartram mentions a variety of delightful vistas as he travels the lower sections of the Southeast in the 18th century, the landscape depicted in this image perhaps best represents what he would have witnessed day after day on horseback. It is anything but representative of the landscape of the lower South of today.
Characterized by slash and longleaf pines, some older than 400 years, and a continuous, spectacularly diverse ground plane, the Big Woods of Greenwood Plantation, is as much a vision of paradise as a refuge for many rare and endangered species. The airiness under the canopy of stately trees and the long views of the verdant greensward offer today’s viewer an experience of passing through the timeless, but virtually forgotten, longleaf landscape that once covered 90 million acres of the Coastal Plain. Thanks to good fortune and excellent stewardship, especially for the last 50 years by forester Leon Neel, the 1,000 privately-owned acres called the Big Woods have made the rare transition from a fire-dependent prehistoric landscape to a fire-managed preserve, without suffering clear-cutting or prolonged fire suppression along the way. Burned nearly annually, it retains the ecological integrity and aesthetic richness seen in Bartram’s time — unimaginable in the fire-suppressed forests of the Southeast today. It also harbors the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. *
* This was adapted from Philip’s essay appearing in: Bartram’s Living Legacy: Travels and the Nature of the South
Studio painting – November.
The Southern Frontier, Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s Travels
January 28 - May 8, 2011
May 28 - Aug 14, 2011
Morris Museum of Art
A Pleasant Territory: Grasslands in the Southeast
March 2 - 27, 2009
Circle Gallery, G14 Caldwell Hall
College of Environment and Design, UGA, Athens, Georgia
Bartram’s Living Legacy: The Travels and the Nature of the South
Edited by Dorinda Dallmeyer
(Cover image, color plates, and contributing essay by Philip Juras)
Published by Mercer University Press, 2010.
Philip Juras: The Southern Frontier, Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s “Travels”
Published in conjunction with Philip’s 2011 exhibition at the Telfair Museum, Savannah, Georgia. With essays by Philip Juras, Dorinda Dallmeyer, Holly Koons McCullough – poem by Janisse Ray – foreword by Steven High. Winner of the Georgia Author of the Year Award (Specialty Book Category) from the Georgia Writers Association, 2012. Published by Telfair Books, 2011. Second printing (paperback) published by the University of Georgia Press, 2015.