April 18
Pink Lady’s-slipper
(Cypripedium acaule)

Sometimes called Pink Moccasin Flower, this orchid has very small hairs on the two basal leaves and on the top two petals. The third petal is an inflated pouch.

I prefer to paint a plant indoors where there is no wind or rain to disrupt the plant. Most importantly, the shadows don’t move under my stationary lighting and the flowers hold still rather than following the sun’s path across the sky. You can see that there are two plants in the painting. I brought them indoors in a pot and, after painting them, put the pot outdoors. Although a pot is not a good place for a Pink Lady’s-slipper (because the roots spread out, shallow and wide), they
both bloomed the next year. They continued to bloom but by the fifth year only one very small orchid remained. So, I put them back out in my woods where they have now disappeared.

It’s just not good to dig Pink Lady’s-slippers. Damaged roots don’t heal. And, they are picky about soil requirements: acidity and perhaps a certain pine fungus. If these conditions change, the plants may go dormant for years until required conditions return. So, I
may see my Pink Lady’s-slippers again.

A dry seed capsule of a previous pink lady’s slipper is illustrated in the background in one of my other paintings, that of the Jack in the Pulpit and Pink Lady’s-slipper seed pod (May 13).

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