Musquash Bog

"Musquash Bog" oil on canvas 36 x 24 in.
8 July 2013 found me wandering about, entranced, in the most beautiful bog I've ever seen - near Gooseberry Road, Musquash, New Brunswick. From the photos that I took that day, I painted the botanical detail, "Cloudberry Kiss" , a portrait of a ripe "Bakeapple" berry, traditionally harvested here by local residents.
Recently I revisited those photos, in search of a subject for a large commissioned painting, and found one view including most of what you see here. Two other photos supplied a second clump of Pitcherplant leaves (at bottom centre) and the tall Pitcherplant flower at the top right.

I described my experience in the bog, in the post for that little painting:

"As the bog opens out from the forest, it looks the same as most other bogs, hummocky and bushy, with scattered stunted Tamaracks and Spruces - rather bowl-shaped, with the shortest trees towards a the centre, and with islands of taller vegetation. Cotton Grass bobs and blows its white tufts above the surface and gives the whole bog a lively twinkle.

"Hackmatack" - that's what Tamarack is called by New Brunswickers, Charlotte told me, as I photographed an Arethusa bulbosa Orchid bloom in a setting of hoary gray Tamarack twigs low against a hummock of moss and Cloudberry, (which Charlotte calls by its local name of "Juneberry)". Saskatoon also has a local name, "Huckleberry", and it's berries are blushing now. Charlotte says they will be ripe and blue at the same time as the Blueberries.

"Leatherleaf is the dominant shrub in this bog, with comparatively little Labrador Tea, but what I saw of that was blooming in a starry froth of dainty white flowers. There are two kinds of Orchid blooming, both pink. Arethusa bulbosa is called "Dragon's Mouth".  It has a streaked and ruffled 'lower jaw'.  Calopogon pulchellus, Grass Pink Orchid seems to hold its blooms upside down, with the bearded part upward. 

"It seems that everything is either blooming or fruiting. I rove about with my camera like a kid in a candy shop. I can't decide whether I'll paint a flamboyant pink orchid or a forest of tall, sculptural Pitcherplant flowers, or a slender taffy coloured mushroom in a setting of red Sphagnum framed with the white lace of Cladonia lichen. Every few steps leads me to a fresh, intimate bog scene more deliciously coloured and detailed than the last. I could do twenty paintings here in this magnificent place - truly the most beautiful bog I've ever seen - and it's crowning glory are the Cloudberries!"


I thoroughly enjoyed doing this painting, working on it intermittently over the course of 2016 and into this winter. Having lived with it for all that time, I can honestly say that of all of my paintings, this is the one original I've been most loth to part with. Each area as I finished it, fit into the whole like a piece into a puzzle. When you stand close enough to touch the painting, with all of its flowering, fruiting details larger than life, it welcomes you into the world of the bog - the next thing to being there!

This painting, being the largest of any of my renderings of "habitat", is drawing me into a dedicated study of the fascinating depth and texture of the earth's natural covering - the living, breathing communities composed of and supported by plants and fungi. This living covering is the engine of "carbon sequestration", a major natural remedy to the crisis of climate change. Watch for more larger-than-life, on-canvas celebrations of carbon sequestration as Fred and I explore this concept!


  1. oh, so beautiful! Thanks for sharing. RAe Smith


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