Cascades Penstemon (Penstemon serrulatus), the purple flowers in the photo above, is native to the west side of the Cascades and a prolific self-seeder in our native plant garden. It stays in bloom for about three weeks for us, just finishing up now. If I recall, we started with just one or two plants in a different garden bed a few years ago. We cut a few stems with mature seeds and spread them in this bed and now we have masses. They seem to move themselves around to where they want to grow, which is how we ended up with this floriferous border. Continue reading
Last weekend Brian and I headed over the mountains for a belated camping trip to Seep Lakes Wildlife Area, just south of Potholes Reservoir and between Moses Lake and Othello. This was our fourth time camping there, but a month later than in previous years because of travel restrictions due to covid-19. For the fourth year in a row we essentially had a lake to ourselves.
What’s the attraction to camping in a place with no facilities, no shade, and a habitat degraded by masses of cheat grass and other weeds? After a long, cool spring we were ready to soak up some heat. It was over 90° when we arrived and set up camp. We also like getting outdoors under a big wide-open sky with no one else around. We like wearing as little as possible, sometimes just sunscreen, sandals, and a hat. And we like hearing the cacaphony of birds down by the lakes. Continue reading
Saturday Brian and I hiked back in time. No, we haven’t invented some marvelous time machine. We just picked a trail that started higher than where we live and hiked uphill. While it was early summer down in Bellingham, we found early spring on the Hannegan Pass trail some 40 miles up the road and 3000 feet higher in elevation. There were no other cars in the parking lot and we didn’t see anyone else along the trail, though there were a few footprints in the mud that told us others had passed this way in recent days.
Green corn lilies (Veratrum viride), just getting started, complemented masses of slide alder (Alnus viridis) in this recently-melted avalanche track. We marveled at acres and acres of this lush foliage on both sides of the trail. Later in the season these plants will be over four feet tall. Continue reading
Henderson’s checker-mallow, Sidalcea hendersonii, is a somewhat uncommon Pacific Northwest native plant. In its natural home you’ll find it just above the high tide line in coastal environments where it tolerates being periodically inundated with salt water. However, it’s quite happy in a garden setting. Continue reading
We’re living in turbulent times. We face uncertainty about our health with a global pandemic circulating among us. People are getting killed and protests are raging in many of our cities. Our so-called leaders at the national level are failing to lead, choosing to incite anger rather than seeking to instill calm and rationality. Frankly, I’m stressed about the state of the nation right now.
I find solace in our woods. You’ve probably heard of shinrin-yoku, or the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness. In English, we call it forest bathing. There are several books on the subject, including the one on my bedside table, Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing by Yoshifumi Miyazaki. Continue reading
Do you pay attention to the transitions in your garden, or in the natural landscape around you? I mean, really looking closely? It’s one of the things I’ve paid more attention to this spring while we’ve been staying at home. Continue reading
May lily is an apt name for this little woodland groundcover, as the flowers reliably open in early May here in the lowlands of western Washington. It’s also called false lily-of-the-valley because of its resemblance to that common garden plant. In technical terms, it’s known as Maianthemum dilatatum.
Whatever you call them, May lilies are one of those plants I look forward to seeing in bloom each spring. Continue reading
Our garden in currently blessed with six different iris in bloom. These purple bearded iris are out front, paired with ‘Limemound’ spiraea. The color contrast is dramatic. We planted these about four years ago and they’ve spread significantly, creating a large splash of color. Continue reading
Yesterday evening Brian and I meandered slowly through our woods along what we variously call the new trail, the short trail, or the creek trail. Maybe we’ll nail down a name for it one of these days. But the trail name doesn’t matter so much. It’s the woodland path closest to the house, but we don’t walk it as frequently as some of our other trails. We walked less than 100 yards as we found much to observe and enjoy in the hour we spent.
These spreading wood ferns (Dryopteris expansa) are right beside the trail at the base of an old and decaying stump. True to their name, this fern seems happiest growing on rotting wood. People often confuse it with lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), another common fern that grows in our woods. Continue reading
With long days this time of year we don’t often get in from working in the garden until 7:30 or so and then we’ll have dinner as we watch the late afternoon night move and shift on the woodland border at the back of the garden. Last night was no exception, and as soon as dinner was finished I headed back out to capture a bit of the magic.
This cluster of paper birches (Betula papyrifera) is at the edge of our woods. It’s a favorite place, and a favorite photo subject nearly year-around. Now that the thimbleberries have leafed out it’s at peak. Continue reading