Photo Album of NCALSBA – 2019 Events

“Cummins Iris Gardens Tour with Jim & Irene and Sketching Day with Maria Cecilia Freeman”, April 30, 2019

Scotts Valley

Although it was a cool, breezy day we were warmly welcomed by Irene and Jim Cummins to their gardens which are located on a gentle slope in Scotts Valley. The display of blooms was impressive as the gardens contain hundreds of irises representing numerous varieties and hybridizers. The property is the site of several homes, an old barn, a collection of antique farm implements, whimsical garden art and a display of bird houses.

We were fortunate that the American Iris Society had held its National Convention in San Ramon the previous week and that the Cummins gardens were one of five available to visit by the attendees. Therefore, there were in addition to the Cummins’ own collection of irises, beds of guest irises. These irises represented a selection of rhizomes that had been provided by hybridizers specifically to be grown for the Conference.



Both Irene and Jim shared their extensive knowledge of irises as we toured the gardens. We were introduced to the different varieties and hybridizers. Jim explained and then demonstrated how to break apart a clump of rhizomes, identifying which to retain and replant and which to discard. Jim is also experimenting with hybridizing but has not yet named or registered any of his plants. He showed us an example of a mature seed pod and seeds.



After the garden tour we gathered together in a garden tent, and Cissy provided us with several handouts, including one listing Iris flower parts and several on maintaining a journal or botanical sketchbook . Cissy explained that although the bearded iris is complex in appearance, it is relatively simple in its components. While Cissy identified the various flower parts on a bearded iris, we each followed along with our own samples. Cissy then shared several of her own sketchbooks as did other members of the group. At this point some of us remained in the tent drawing and painting irises while others returned to the garden to paint en plain aire. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to visit this unique garden and work with Cissy.



We were most appreciative of Irene and Jim’s generosity in sharing their time, knowledge and garden with us and their warm spirits. The garden is open to the public so take the opportunity to visit now while the irises are in full bloom. The address is: 165 Canham Road, Scotts Valley, CA. Email:


Photos by Elaine Goldstone and Celia Bakke and text by Celia Bakke
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Rogério Lupo “Pen Nib & Ink and Graphite Hybrid Workshop for Scientific Illustration in Botanical Art”, March 22-24, 2019




We were fortunate to have the opportunity to host Rogério Lupo, a well known scientific illustrator, as our visiting instructor for a 3 day workshop this past weekend in Orinda. This was his first time traveling outside of his native country, Brazil. Rogério is an extremely talented artist – his sense of time, ritual and respect for craftsmanship are practices we can only appreciate in a workshop, and few can articulate the respect and focus necessary for those who achieve such mastery.





15 students had the pleasure to learn from him. 8 students worked in graphite and 7 worked with pen nib and ink. The pen nib and ink appeared to have a steep learning curve.



We were provided with comprehensive workbooks and exercises several weeks prior to the workshop, to gain technique proficiency in order to maximize our time in the classroom. Rogério provided full assistance and guidance, including a guided meditation and posture recommendations. He juggled comfortably between students working in two separate mediums and all while speaking a second language.

Next stops for Mr Lupo are Pasadena, Denver and Virginia.



Photos by Walter Denn and Liz Stroh-Coughlin and text by Liz Stroh-Coughlin
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“Special Behind the Scenes Tour of the California Academy of Sciences”,
February 21, 2019

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

We had a fascinating and fun behind the scenes tour at the Academy of Sciences, starting with a walk onto the “living roof”.

We learned more about the institution’s 160-year history and what it takes to house nearly 46 million specimens. We were able to visit some research collections, focusing on the Herbarium where we saw a range of specimens (including a plant collected on Capt. Cook’s voyage) and several very rare local (Alameda/SF & Marin county) specimens.



In the entomology (insects) department we saw an amazing range of butterflies (the Dogface, our state butterfly), huge moths and iridescent beetles.



The breathtaking geology specimens in the private vault rounded out the tour. Member Walter Denn, who has assisted in the past with photographing specimens at the Academy, showed us more about using the special Leica camera in the project room.

Thanks to all for participating!



Photos by Mary Ann King, Elaine Wismer and Ruth Cox and text by Ruth Cox
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