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Art Exhibit: Native Plants of San Bruno Mountain

  • Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture (map)

The flora of San Bruno Mountain flora will be featured in an upcoming botanical art exhibit at the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture!

May 2nd through August 31st. Reception on Thursday, May 17th from 5-7pm 

We were delighted to provide some of the live plants for illustration from our Mission Blue Nursery! See the exhibit description below, from

(Illustration above: Golden Aster by Mary L. Harden)

Join us in celebrating the beauty and biodiversity of San Bruno Mountain, one of the largest public open spaces in an urban setting in the United States. In this fourth exhibit of paintings by Mary Harden and her students, the artists have worked with San Bruno Mountain Watch observing plants in the 2,600 acre open space reserve. 

Original watercolors painted from live specimens are life size and botanically accurate while still displaying the exuberant artistic style of Mary and her students. Native plants exhibited include snowberry, checkerbloom, California buckeye, golden aster, bee plant, among many others. Over thirty individual artists who have studied art with the Mary Harden School of Botanical Illustration and have achieved the level of master artist will have artwork on display in this exhibit. 

A botanical painting, Mary Harden explains: 

" more than a scientific illustration as it requires the hand of the painter to be revealed in the composition, as well as the choice of focus, the life cycle elements, and the use of space and color. It is a personal statement about a particular plant, at a particular time, in a particular habitat. We hope to create that moment of joy when a plant is discovered along the trail. It is seen and felt with all of one's senses." 

San Bruno Mountain was recognized by renowned Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson as one of the world's 18 biodiversity hotspots in need of preservation. It is one of the last remnants of the Northern (Franciscan) Coastal Scrub that once covered most of San Francisco and the Peninsula. 

San Bruno Mountain Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving all of the land on or near San Bruno Mountain as open space.

Doug Allshouse and David Nelson are champions of San Bruno Mountain who first introduced the artists to this rich and wild place so that they could accurately paint some of the indigenous plants from life for this exhibit. Doug and David are discovering and actively documenting every native plant for an upcoming San Bruno Mountain field guide to be published by the California Native Plant Society. 

With this exhibit Mary Harden and her students honor them and their work and the efforts of the hundreds of volunteers who enjoy their weekends together on the mountain restoring the native plants. 




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