Even rarer than unplowed prairie, ecologically intact tallgrass savannas have virtually disappeared. Among their scattered oaks, diversity could exceed that of adjacent prairies and woodlands, as they drew species from both, while specializing in a few more of their own. Somme Prairie Grove, surrounded by metropolitan Chicago, is both a garden oasis and laboratory of savanna restoration. Volunteer efforts shepherded by Stephen Packard since the 1970s have transformed this badly tattered remnant into a treasure for human and natural communities alike. For the artist, the choices of subject there are many. One August morning, for this field painting I selected the edge of a woodland grove, where a bank of rosinweed, sweet black-eyed Susan, and showy tick trefoil set the stage for a cohort of young bur oaks.
Presented to Stephen Packard by Openlands in honor of his conservation work, 2019.
Canvas mounted to hardboard.
May 1 - September 12, 2021
Chicago Botanic Garden
Published in conjunction with Philip’s 2021 exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Contributors include: Philip Juras, artist and author; Hank Paulson, foreword; and Stephen Packard, essay. Published by Little Bluestem Press, Athens, GA, 2021.