A Windsor artist is creating a flower guidebook for Ojibway Park — but it’ll take a while

A field guidebook is in the works to highlight flowering plants in and around Ojibway Park. 

Windsor artist Sarah Smitherman is using watercolour ink to illustrate the flora and envisions the book being pocket size when it eventually comes out.

She said she was inspired by a trip to Mount Rainier in Washington state and seeing illustrated identification guides for plants and wildlife.

“I do a lot of hiking and travelling and I’ve noticed gift shops around North America, United Space especially — they have books in their gift shops that are about the areas in their natural habitats,” said Smitherman.

Windsor artist Sarah Smitherman says she had the idea to create a flower guidebook for Ojibway after hiking in the U.S. and seeing illustrated field identification books. (Submitted by Sarah Smitherman)

Smitherman, a graphic designer who graduated from St. Clair College and is currently studying art at the University of Windsor, received a grant of nearly $2,500 from the City of Windsor’s arts and culture heritage fund to start the project.

She hopes to land similar grants in the future as she makes her way through populating the book with different flowering plants.

“I do a bunch of different watercolour illustrations and I do enjoy doing a lot of floral illustrations and watercolour. So this is something I’m familiar with.”

She estimates there are anywhere between 200 and 250 different flowers in the Ojibway Park area, meaning the project is going to be a tedious and lengthy one — possibly taking as long as three years, depending on funding and Smitherman’s own schedule. 

Flowering plants are pictured in the spring at Windsor's Ojibway Park.
Flowering plants are pictured in the spring at Windsor’s Ojibway Park. (Ojibway Nature Centre)

Smitherman said she’s starting the book by producing 10 watercolour ink illustrations for this round of funding. She hopes to receive additional funding for more images in the next round.

“I haven’t reached out to other artists. So far, I’m the only artist that’s working on this with illustrating the book,” however, Smitherman does say she’s “definitely open” to other artists contributing.

Windsor Morning7:25Ojibway flower guide

Sarah Smitherman, a local graphic designer, speaks with CBC Windsor Morning host Nav Nanwa about creating a guide to the wild flowers of Ojibway Park.

While she said she’d rather go into the field to see the flowers first hand, she’ll settle for working from photography.

“There’s a bunch of rare plants that I probably will not be able to find unless I spend a lot of time looking for them with specialists.”

An illustration of common silverweed found in the Ojibway Park area of Windsor by artist Sarah Smitherman.
An illustration of common silverweed found in the Ojibway Park area of Windsor by artist Sarah Smitherman. (Submitted by Sarah Smitherman)

Smitherman said she’s been in Windsor for roughly the past 15 years and enjoys spending time at Ojibway, calling it “one of those special spots for me.”

“It’s definitely a resource that Windsor does not have for that area. We have other books, but nothing specifically for flowering plants of Ojibway.”

When completed, she said she plans to donate the books to local library branches and hopes for it to be made available at the Ojibway Nature Centre.

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