Much of this past week was spent elbow deep in ink, mixing, test printing, and augmenting all in an effort to capture that particular fushia-esque hue of purple loosestrife in bloom. My task was aimed at mixing enough ink to print a suite of four reduction woodcut editions exploring a few modes of introduction employed by this aquatic invasive plant. Throughout this process and that of printing the four works, I found myself mesmerized by the color I had created, one which in other circumstances I might have described as garish. It dawned on me, however, that this eye-catching quality may well have played a role in loosestrife’s success as an invasive.
It is difficult to deny the beauty of a marsh thick with purple against the rich blue of open water. Although I know this to be a sign that the plant has utterly taken over a riparian habitat, this rich mental image of summer is stuck firmly in my mind. Beauty is ultimately purple loosestrife’s greatest asset; for there is little we humans love more than pretty flowers. Although loosestrife made its way over the Atlantic Ocean predominantly as a hitchhiker in the ballast of 19th century ships, like so many other handsome exotic plants it found a welcome home in garden ponds and other domesticated wet areas.
Perhaps this is where I should ruminate on the consequences of reaping what one sows… but in the end that purple rolled out on my palate sings of summer as I look out my window at the muddy monochrome of early spring.