Even in the depth of winter there are dollops of green on the Northwest forest floor. Deer fern (Blechnum spicant) is one of those hardy evergreens. It’s smaller and less common than the ubiquitous sword fern (Polystichum munitum), which to my mind makes it more interesting and desirable for our garden. The photo above shows Deer Ferns in the moss garden at Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. Continue reading
Pacific Dogwood is a showy northwest native tree that blooms from late April to late May. It’s just one of the dogwoods native to North America. The grove of dogwoods above was photographed last May along California Route 32 near Forest Ranch.
One of my memories of spring in West Virginia, where I grew up, is hillsides dotted with dogwood trees in bloom. Their showy white bracts, which look like giant petals, appear about the time the leaves are starting to unfold. The eastern species, Cornus florida, is commonly planted in home landscapes across North America. Continue reading
Sunday morning Natalie said, “let’s go for a walk in the woods” and I suggested we hike the loop trail at the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve near Lake Whatcom. It’s an easy 3-mile loop through nice old- and second-growth forest, perfect for a quick getaway on a morning when light rain threatened.
Just a tenth of a mile up the trail there’s a viewpoint to a large beaver-built wetland. This is the view from the trail, with the wetland framed by western redcedars, Douglas-firs, and red huckleberries. The wetland plants are still brown, not yet having started their spring growth in the cold water.
This is a birth announcement of sorts. My close friends know I’ve been working with a small team for the last several months to create a new smartphone field guide to Washington state wildflowers. Washington Wildflowers went on sale April 8. It’s been a long journey, but we think it’s worth the wait. Keep reading for links to where to purchase it.
University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum, the authors of Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, and High Country Apps have partnered to produce the new Washington Wildflowers plant identification app for iOS and Android devices. The app provides images, species descriptions, range maps, bloom period, and technical descriptions for more than 850 common wildflowers, shrubs, and vines that occur in Washington and adjacent areas of British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon. The majority of species included are native, but introduced species common to the region are covered as well in order to expand the usefulness of this resource. Most of the 850 species are illustrated with three photographs, usually a blossom detail, the entire plant, and often a habitat view. I made almost all of the photographs, the exceptions being a few plants I have yet to find. Continue reading
Delicate pink blossoms, pendant atop curving scapes, single or in pairs, beam a spot of color among emerging green on the forest floor this month. Coast fawn lilies (Erythronium revolutum) are one of our ephemeral spring beauties in the Pacific Northwest.
Coast fawn lily, also known as pink fawn lily, favors moist shady forests, including stream banks and other wet places, near the Pacific coast from British Columbia to California. According to Flora of North America it’s rarely found more than 100 km from the coast. Distribution is sporadic, and while the species is not rare I haven’t seen it myself in very many places.
Even in our mild Pacific Northwest climate there aren’t many shrubs that bloom during the dark winter months. One of the exceptions is Bodnant Viburnum, Viburnum ×bodnantense. The cultivar we have in our garden, and the one you’ll find most often in the nursery trade, is ‘Dawn.’ For us, it begins blooming in late October and continues to open fragrant pink blossoms through February. Continue reading
We’ve had Golden Hops (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) vines on our vegetable garden fence for over a dozen years now. It’s reliable, hardy, and showy from spring through late fall. It never fails to get comments from pedestrians passing by, particularly this time of year. Continue reading
Western Serviceberry, also known as Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia), is a widespread shrub or small tree that’s found in almost every county in the Pacific Northwest. It blooms in April and early May, depending on elevation and temperature. As I write this on April 29 it’s in bloom right now on both sides of the mountains in Washington and Oregon. Continue reading
Among the first small trees or large shrubs to bloom in western Washington, Oregon, northern California, and British Columbia are the hazelnuts, Corylus avellana (common filbert or European hazelnut) and Corylus cornuta (beaked hazelnut). To the untrained eye these two can be difficult to distinguish.
Oregon-grapes are among our wonderful broadleaf evergreen shrubs here in the Pacific Northwest. There are several species but the two most common natives are Berberis aquifolium, tall (or shining) Oregon-grape, and Berberis nervosa, low (or dull) Oregon-grape. There are also numerous horticultural cultivars, some of which will begin blooming in late December.