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Showing posts from June, 2013

For SkyWatch Friday: How the Rain Ends

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June 25, 4:17 PM, Temp 67.0° F, Dew Pt 57.3° F, Barometer 29.72 in, Wind 3 mph, Humidity 71%


Looking southeast, this is how the rain ends in the Pacific Northwest USA.  After two days of overcast and light drizzle, the skies cleared over Skagit Bay last Tuesday afternoon.  It was as pleasant to be out in the garden taking pictures as it looked.




Cow Parsnip - Look But Don't Touch

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The Cow Parsnip(Heracleum lanatum, H. maximum) in the Carrot family is a spectacular wildflower.  As its name implies, it accomplishes herculean proportions.  It can grow to 8 feet (>2 meters) in height and the flower heads can be a foot (30 cm) across.  The leaves are even larger.  They can be found growing from sea level to subalpine elevations throughout most of North America.


All of the plants pictured here are growing along the dike at Wiley Slough in the Skagit State Wildlife Recreation Area.  They also grow along the road where I live.  This year's display is especially impressive.  Greater than normal rainfall could be the explanation.  My weather station measured 2.64 inches (670 mm) of rain for April and 2.51 inches (640 mm) in May.  This is 1.66 inches (420 mm) above average for the two-month period.

I learned something important researching for this post.  As in the photo, the plants like to grow along trails and roadsides.  This provides opportunities for hikers a…

Yellow Iris

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On Monday morning, I was hiking the Spur Dike at Wiley Slough in the Skagit River delta.  I came upon a vehicle and a group of people out on the dike, something quite unusual.  They were donning chest high waders and preparing spray cans.  I was curious about what they were doing.

Their mission was noxious weed control.  Recall that this part of the Skagit River delta is being restored to improve habitat for the endangered Skagit run of Chinook Salmon.  Their specific targets were Yellow Iris and Purple Loosestrife.

Yellow Iris(Iris pseudacorus) is a wildflower native to Europe including Britain, western Asia and north Africa.  It is a beautiful flower and revered by Europeans.  The famous Fleur-de-lis symbol of France is believed to represent the Yellow Iris.  In North America, it has escaped our gardens and become a threat to wetlands.  It can outgrow and displace native vegetation.  It will choke waterways and reduce the carrying capacity of wetlands for waterfowl.  For these reaso…