A Sparkling Morning

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Fringecup lines woodland path

I was out early this morning. Well, not so early that the sun wasn’t up, but early enough that it was still low in the sky and the dew lay undisturbed upon the garden and our woods. I embraced the cool, still air and ambled down the path from our lawn and into the woods with my camera on my shoulder. It’s a nice way to start the day, but something that has yet to become a habit. Continue reading

Fringecup and Piggy-back Plant

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Fringecup (Tellima grandiflora) and Piggy-back Plant (Tolmiea menziesii) are two common woodland wildflowers that have just come into bloom at our place in the last few days. That’s Fringecup in the photo above, along with some foliage from Enchanter’s Nightshade, some May Lilies on the left, and a bit of Bugleweed in the background.

Both of these common plants are in the saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae) and people often confuse them, particularly when they’re not in flower. Now that they’re blooming it’s easy to tell them apart by their blossoms. Continue reading

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


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

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.

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