Perched on a limestone cliff high above the Mississippi flood plain, Fults Hill Prairie Preserve is perhaps the most exotic of the prairie remnants I visited in Illinois. On my May 2019 visit I found a view from a convenient deer trail that captured several of Fults’s springtime features. Standing on that trail clinging to the steep loess slope, I could almost reach out horizontally to touch the blooms of hoary puccoon, pale beard tongue, small skullcap, and the new leaves of many other forbs rising from the recently burned prairie. Below me, fire-pruned eastern redcedars along the cliff edge hinted at the regularity of the prescribed fires that keep this phenomenal prairie from being shaded out by encroaching trees. The whole experience was enlivened by the constant chatter of migratory birds rising from the flooded wetlands and forests below.
Identifiable in the painting:
Pale beard tongue (Penstemon pallidus)
Small skullcap (Scutellaria parvula)
Hoary puccoon(Lithospermum canescens)
Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiania)
Also… limestone cliffs, loess slopes, and Kidd Lake.
Studio painting – September.
May 1 - September 12, 2021
Chicago Botanic Garden
June 9 - October 21, 2023
Illinois State Museum - Lockport Gallery
201 West 10th Street, Lockport, Illinois
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.