When Pamela Machold joined the Marquand Park Foundation in the early 1970ties, she decided to use her artistic talents and create pen drawings of two of her favorite trees in the park. Her picture of the threadleaf Japanese maple became later the logo of the Marquand Park Foundation and Pam’s rendition of the cedar of Lebanon shows, better than any photograph, the majestic silhouette of this famous old tree. It is used as a wallpaper background on the Marquand Park website.
The Marquand Park Board in those days was working on a new tree map of the park and had decided for the first time in its existence to add a small guide with short descriptions of the plant species. Roland Machold and Ramsay Raymond were responsible for writing up the descriptions for this Guide to Marquand Park, which was dedicated to Mary Marquand Hochschild who had supported the park for many years and was still living at Marquand House bordering the north-east side of the park.
Aware of Pam’ s unique drawing skills, the Board determined they had a true artist in their midst, and she would be just the right person to compliment the botanical descriptions in the guide with illustrations highlighting the characteristics of the trees and shrubs. Pam remembers that she and Sam deTuro would go to the park carrying with them three color-coded mylar sheets with the locations of either the deciduous trees, evergreens, or shrubs, and pinpoint a tree that they wanted to illustrate. She would then sit down on the grass with her sketch book and start drawing, first using a pencil and later retracing the pencil lines with an Indian ink pen. Sam usually disappeared when Pam got busy, so she was mostly by herself while working on her sketches.
Pam started the project in the springtime and then worked through the seasons to complete the drawings. She does not remember making much use of reference books and mostly relied on what she observed in the park. Not always having enough time during the day because of her busy family life, she took branches and other plant material home and worked on her sketches in the evening when she had no other demands on her time.
The result is remarkable. With our mobile phones or cameras, we all make photographs of plants with the intent of using these pictures later as reference materials. But we often discover that some critical detail that would identify the plant is blurred, too much in the shadow, or entirely absent in our pictures. A botanical illustration is a powerful and often much better tool to present a clear image of a plant species. The illustrator can highlight and slightly exaggerate key features and show a plant’s characteristics in different seasons, something a photograph is never able to accomplish. These qualities are critical and very much present in Pam’s drawings.
Without any formal training in the art of botanical illustrations, Pam was able to visualize the essential physiognomies of different plants. In three of drawings, the Japanese, Norway, and sugar maple are represented with a single leaf depicted frontally with their unique features easily distinguishable. Each leaf is accompanied by one of more samaras which clearly show differences in shape between the three species. The leaf of the sassafras tree was intriguing to Pam because of its lack of uniformity. Her illustration shows three leaves. On is ovate and lobe-less, another looks like a mitten, and the final leaf has three lobes. Alas, the tree has disappeared from the park depriving us of an opportunity to look for four and five-lobed leaves that sometimes appear on this tree. The cones of the white pine are beautifully captured in two stages of development together with their plumes of needles. All illustrations are relatively small and appear in the margins of the text.
Altogether 43 drawings were included in the guide and the picture of the cedar of Lebanon was reproduced by itself on the final page of the booklet. Pam mentioned that Joan and John Emerick, owners of Minute Press in Princeton were very helpful in finalizing the layout of the illustrations. Pam’s drawings were used again in three completely revised Marquand Park guides with a different format. These guides were published in 1989, 2003, and 2004. Pen drawings by Dorothy Geyer done in a similar style were added.