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.

A Weedy Afternoon

Dove's Foot Geranium

I spent my afternoon yesterday among the weeds. I didn’t have to go far. This cute little flower, Dove’s Foot Geranium (Geranium molle), was growing at the edge of our front garden bed, just a few feet back from the shoulder of the road. The flower is only about one-half inch across but that bright pink is hard to miss. Continue reading

Something Old, Something New


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

Coming Attractions

Native shrubs in spring garden

One of the things I love about gardens is that they’re always changing. You might notice the difference from one day to the next, but over the course of a few days or weeks growth can be dramatic. Three years ago we planted this front yard native shrub and wildflower garden. It’s not 100% native, as you can see from the Grape Hyacinths and Geranium foliage at the bottom of the photo, but going native is our intent here.

This garden bed looks open and not all that exciting right now. However, there are going to be a lot of flowers soon. Continue reading

Plug In to the Currant Bush

Coast Black Gooseberry blossoms

Remember that camping trip with your college friends when someone asked where they could plug in their hair drier and the smart aleck in the group said, “Go plug it into the current bush.”? Then your hapless friend wandered around looking for a bush to plug into. Whether they found one is open to question.

If our friend happened to be visiting our garden this month I could point them to four different species of native currants or gooseberries. They’re all members of the genus Ribes, and there are 18 species (not counting varieties and subspecies) in Washington state. There’s some difference of opinion about the common names for these. Some we call currants and some are gooseberries, generally (but not always) based on the size of the fruit.

In the photo above we’re looking at the flowers of Coast Black Gooseberry, Ribes divaricatum. It’s also sometimes called Straggly Goosebery or Spreading Gooseberry or Wild Black Gooseberry. 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

Coming Soon: Maple Sex

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Bigleaf Maple flower buds

Get ready boys and girls, the Bigleaf Maples (Acer macrophyllum), are getting ready for their once-a-year sexual escapades. It’s going to be a few days before we get into full-fledged maple sex season, but keep your eyes peeled for the first blossoms to open.

Right now the flower buds are just starting to peek out from their enclosing bud scales on the trees at the edge of our yard. I first noticed the expanding buds a few days ago and yesterday evening I aimed my macro lens at a few of them. Continue reading