The waxy red lampshade-shaped Pitcher Plant flowers nod demurely from the curved tops of 30 cm tall stems, each in the centre of a half buried nest of pitcher-shaped leaves. These actually hold water and are lined with tiny curved hairs so that insects that slide in can't climb out. They are drowned and absorbed as nutrients for these extravagant plants.
The Sphagnum moss that forms most of the floating bog mat produces an organic acid that prevents decomposition and sequesters nutrients, so most plants that live in bogs are evergreen and have other adaptations for life in a low nutrient setting. The tiny carnivorous Sundews are also here, showing in my painting as bright red dots at
the edge of the water.
This bog is in a kettle hole, formed by the melting of a chunk of ice ground into the shale by a glacier and then melted, leaving a deep round hole filled with water - and gradually, over thousands of years, grown over by a mat of Sphagnum which supports the bog community.
As I entered the bog from the Black Spruce forest on the north side, my first few steps into the wet Sphagnum stirred up black muck, but I was soon out on the bog mat itself, which sank with my weight - but only so far. Clear water welled up around my legs but my feet didn't punch through the strong network of roots that lace the moss together. I unfolded my metal stool and tried it out. It only sank halfway as I sat on it, and stayed like that during my three hours of work on the painting.
I love Bog Cotton! The white pompoms of this little sedge bob in the breeze. The streak of white fluff across the bog echo the white clouds that scud across the clubbed tops of the Black Spruces. The few open patches of water bring the blue sky down into the bog in my painting.
Tiny dragonflies disappear and reappear as the sun glints on their wings. These are the smallest dragonflies in North America, the Elfin Skimmer Nannothemis bella. The Bio-blitz people are pleased to find it here, as it is the first record for New Brunswick! You can see photos of this delicate beauty at http://bugguide.net/node/view/10887
Dear patrons and supporters,
I will be painting until 25 June at the New Brunswick Museum Bio-blitz, held this year in the Grand Lake Meadows Protected Natural Area near Fredericton, New Brunswick. Any paintings that remain unsold at the end of the Bio-blitz will be available for purchase after 25 June. This one has been spoken for - another one is on its way!