Mary Vaux Walcott
Audobon of Botany
It’s the birthday of Mary Vaux Walcott born in Philadelphia today in 1860.
Gardeners know Walcott for her work as a botanical illustrator; she created meticulously accurate watercolors of plants and flowers. She is known as the "Audobon of botany."
Walcott became an illustrator one summer after being challenged to paint a rare blooming Arnica. Although her effort was only a modest success, it encouraged her to pursue art. In that pursuit, she met Charles Doolittle Walcott. They were both doing fieldwork in the Canadian Rockies, and they found they were equally yoked. They married the following year.
At the time, Charles was the secretary of the Smithsonian; that's how Walcott came to develop the Smithsonian process printing technique.
Walcott created hundreds of illustrations of the native plants of North America.
Her five-volume set entitled North American Wildflowersshowcases the stunning beauty of common wildflowers, many of which are at peak bloom right now.
In addition to her work as a botanist, Mary was a successful glacial geologist and photographer.
She was the first woman to summit a peak over 10,000 feet in Canada when she tackled Mount Stephen. Today Walcott even has a mountain named after her in Jasper - Mount Mary Vaux.
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