I was back in Deception Pass State Park this morning to check on the wild rhododendrons. I had seen a little color in the buds when I was there on Friday. The turbulence in Deception Pass caught my eye as I crossed the bridge. I hiked out onto the span to get this photo. The shadow of the bridge on the water is cast by the morning sun. The headlands beyond are Lighthouse Point and Lotte Point in the northern section of the park.
The Lower Forest Trail at Goose Rock is prime rhododendron country. While they enjoy the Northwest rain, they do not like to grow in damp soil. Sitting at the edge of the Olympic Rain Shadow, annual rainfall here is probably similar to my yard, about 20 inches/51 centimeters. Some of that will never reach the ground. It will be caught in the canopy and evaporate back into the air. Then the Rhodies will have to compete with the trees for the portion that does reach the soil. The mycorrhizal fungi around their roots will assist them with this. It is doubtful these plants would survive here without their fungal partners.
Hikers must watch their step on the trail. Some of the local residents will be out and about. This Whidbey Island Banana Slug (Ariolimax columbianus) sustains my theory, that Whidbey slugs have spots while those on Fidalgo do not.
Proceeding along the trail, I suddenly find myself surrounded by the "king of shrubs." I think this spot is becoming my favorite place in the park. I count only four blossoms opening on this plant. These are the only ones I can see from the trail. As I mentioned in the last post, this is not a good year for rhododendron blooms.
I will be able to get back here on Saturday when this R. macrophyllum blossom should be fully opened. I hope it won't be too late.
Here are a couple of photos of species rhododendrons in my garden. On the left in the shade garden is R. catawbiense var. 'Album' native to the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern U.S. On the right is R. yakushimanum from Yakushima Island in the Japan archipelago.