Red Elderberry

Red-flowering Currant, Red Elderberry at woodland edge

Red elderberry, Sambucus racemosa, flowers are peaking in our woods and woodland border right now. This medium-sized Pacific Northwest native shrub puts on quite a show when she’s in bloom, covered in masses of somewhat pyramid-shaped clusters of small white flowers. In the photo above of the woodland border in our garden, made a couple of weeks ago on April 12, the flowers have yet to emerge among the newly unfolding leaves. The showy red flowers are red-flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum, blooming below the elderberry.

We’ve been watching our elderberries develop all month as they come into flower, and now as the flowers begin to fade. Continue reading

Serviceberry Time

Serviceberries

One of the great things about being confined to our home is to watch the near-daily changes in our garden since we can’t go far afield to catch the blossoms somewhere else. The flowers that were in full bloom just a week ago are fading and new ones are taking their place. Right now, it’s the serviceberries (Amelanchier alnifolia) that are putting on their spring show.

The serviceberries are the white flowers in the photo. Behind them are the brilliant yellow flowers of golden currant (Ribes aureum). Both shrubs are native to Washington state, although the currant is an east of the mountains species. Also starting to bloom is great camas (Camassia leichtlinii), another Pacific Northwest native.
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Trillium Season is Winding Down

Sweet Woodruff w/ Giant Purple Wakerobins

We’re getting to the end of the season for trillium blossoms in our garden and woodland. It’s been a wonderful run for these favorite wildflowers this spring. In the photo above, our Giant Purple Wakerobins (Trillium kurabayashii) are beginning to look a little bedragled in the petal department, although the foliage is still fresh. The white flowers just beginning to open are the non-native Sweet Woodruff, Galium odoratum.

These flowers have been looking good since early March. I photographed them the first time this year on March 18 and shared the photos in a blog post on March 24, a full month ago. I have trouble thinking of another perennial flower that stays looking good for this long. Continue reading

Fire on the Mountain

'Mountain Fire' Japanese Andromeda

‘Mountain Fire’ Japanese Andromeda, a cultivar of Pieris japonica, is a standout shrub in our garden. It’s a broadleaved evergreen so we can enjoy it year around but it’s especially nice right now as the new foliage emerges. It’s those bright red new leaves that give the cultivar its name. It’s the small shrub in the foreground of the photo above. Continue reading

Come Walk in the Woods With Me

I spent about four hours meandering the paths in the woods behind our house on Friday, enjoying a day with a soft overcast sky and a few sprinkles that made photography a real joy. In the course of that time I exposed over 300 frames of our wildflowers at various stages of growth, as well as ferns and horsetails. This video slideshow runs about 3:20. I hope it brings you a bit of relaxation and good vibes. It will look best in full screen mode on your computer.

We’re very fortunate to have this space to roam during “stay at home” time and enjoy walking one or more of our trails almost every day. There’s always something new to see among the familiar landscape.

Something Old, Something New

Ground-ivy

This pretty little garden weed, which goes by the names Ground-ivy, Gill-over-the-ground, Creeping Charlie, or Field Balm (Glechoma hederacea) is one of the first plants I learned the name of when I was a kid. It grew at the edges of my dad’s garden in West Virginia … and it grows today in our garden in Bellingham on the other side of the continent. The name I use most often is Gill-over-the-ground because that’s how I first learned it, but out here in the west I don’t hear many people using that name.

Ground-ivy isn’t native to either the Appalachians or the Pacific Northwest; it’s another of many plant introductions from Eurasia. Continue reading

Go Long or Go Wide? Variations on a Theme

'Flore Pleno' Bloodroot, 300mm lens

As photographers, the lenses we choose can dramatically change the subject’s appearance in the finished photograph. I find that much of the time I fall back on my trusty 24-105mm zoom lens, which covers most of the subjects I photograph very well. But when I visited the patch of ‘Flore Pleno’ Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Flore Pleno’) in our woodland-edge garden yesterday evening I left “old trusty” in my bag and picked three different lenses as I explored this spring ephemeral. Continue reading

Trillium Season

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Giant Purple Wakerobin

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for Trilliums. They’ve been among my favorite wildflowers for more than 50 years. According to the USDA PLANTS database, there are more than 35 species of Trillium in North America (plus a bunch of subspecies and varieties).

In our garden and woods we only have two species of Trillium. The one at the top of this post is Giant Purple Wakerobin, Trillium kurabayashii, which is native to southern Oregon and northern California. We’ve been growing a small clump of these for a few years and they’re looking particularly good this spring. Continue reading

Morning and Evening

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Fog in early spring perennial garden

The edges of the day — around sunrise and sunset — are the most interesting. Yes, we all enjoy warm sunny blue-sky days, but frankly, mid-day sunshine is visually boring.

A couple of weeks ago I looked out out kitchen window about 7:30 as I was finishing my breakfast and noticed the low morning sun shining through a little fog in the garden. It was about 30 minutes after official sunrise. I figured this little light show wouldn’t last long, so I grabbed the camera I keep in the house and rushed out to the garden to capture this bit of atmospheric light show. Continue reading