Bucks Co. botanical artist giving back to FDR Park through work at 2021 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Carol Ashton-Hergenhan says she often draws inspiration for her artwork from nature around her. It can be found as close as her backyard garden at home in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

"Gardening has always been part of my life and I have been drawing plants for 60+ years," she said.

Since retiring in 2010, she has become a master gardener and refocused on her passion for drawing and painting botanicals.

"What I am fascinated by is the variety within the plant kingdom," said Ashton-Hergenhan. "And the drawing is really what helps you understand what the plant is all about."

Around that same time, she joined the Philadelphia Society for Botanical Illustrators, or PSBI.

"Our primary goal is to educate the public in the importance of botanical art. We want to celebrate the work of the artists," she said.

Ashton-Hergenhan has been exhibiting her work at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show for about 12 years and is this year's exhibit producer for PSBI. The PSBI committee handles the botanical exhibit for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, or PHS.

PSBI's exhibit this year is called, 'Plants in My Habitat.'

Ashton-Hergenhan says that theme was chosen to make it easy for artists to find a plant to illustrate, since people were staying at home due to COVID.

"We asked them to paint the plants that live around them," she says. Ashton-Hergenhan chose a house plant.

"The piece that I have exhibited is a phalaenopsis orchid, sometimes called a moth orchid," she said. "And it had so many little freckles and spots; that was a real challenge."

She says completing a piece can take anywhere from 20 to 100 hours, through all the steps.

"I always start with something from life," said Ashton-Hergenhan. "I will do a quick drawing and then I refine the drawing."

Then, she traces it, transfers it to paper, and applies watercolor. "I want it to lift off the page," she said.

Since this year's show is outside in FDR Park, the prints are being displayed inside the Horticourt Tent, so they'll be protected.

"Artists have agreed that they will donate a portion of their proceeds to the 'Friends of FDR Park' to help the continuing renovation of the park," said Ashton-Hergenhan. "It's going to be wonderful."

A special one-hour preview of the 2021 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show will air this Saturday at 7pm.

For more information:
Carol Ashton-Hergenhan / Home Page
Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators
2021 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show
Friends of FDR Park
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