A Visit to Noisy Creek

Trail through old-growth forest

April hikes in the North Cascades have to be at lower elevations unless you want to break out your snowshoes or skis. On a rainy Sunday it made sense for my friend Brian and me to choose the East Bank Baker Lake Trail and head to Noisy Creek. Neither of us had hiked this section of trail before.

At only 800 feet elevation, spring was in full swing along the trail. We inhaled deeply as we entered the woods, sucking in the sweet scent of moist humus and conifers. Much of the forest is old growth, the usual mix of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and western redcedar, the understory a tangle of mossy logs and thickets of vine maples, salmonberries, and huckleberries. Without a trail it would be tough bushwhacking. Continue reading

2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Herbed Butter display garden

It may not have felt much like spring on Thursday, February 23 as I drove to Seattle for the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show. There was a bit of fresh snow on the ground as I drove down I-5 for my annual fix of gardening inspiration. I’ve been going to the NWFGS for 20 years, sometimes as a speaker but more often just to enjoy the display gardens.

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Red-flowering Currant

Red-flowering Currant against wooden fence
Red-flowering Currant against wooden fence in Annie & Bob’s backyard

A few days ago my friend Annie called to say her red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) was about to burst into full bloom, inviting me to swing by and photograph it. She has a couple of nice shrubs against the fence in her backyard and when I visited on March 16 one of the two was in full bloom. Continue reading

In the Pink with Columbia Desert Parsley

Columbia Desert Parsley blossoms

Columbia Desert Parsley blossoms

Columbia Desert Parsley, Lomatium columbianum, blooms early in the Columbia Gorge. Today, the first day of spring, it was at “early peak” along Washington Rt. 14 between Bingen and Dallesport.

This is one of those plants that is very common in those places where it grows, yet it has a very limited distribution. It’s prolific on both sides of the Columbia River in the area I visited today, essentially at the mouth of the Klickitat River.

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Groundcover = Weed?

I got a phone call this morning from a lady down around Olympia who had come across my wildflowers website. She hadn’t found a plant on the site that she’d found in the backyard of her home and asked if she could send me a JPEG to identify it for her before she took a weed eater to it. I get these requests pretty frequently, but usually by e-mail, so I said “yes” and she sent a file while we were still on the phone.

It only took a glance to know that her mystery plant was the very common garden groundcover, Vinca minor. The common name is periwinkle. It’s a plant I learned as a small child because my dad had it in our garden. It’s native to southern Switzerland and south to the Mediterranean. Continue reading