Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fruiting Madrona Update

This weekend finally brought a break in the thick and persistent fog that has characterized our weather for more than a week.  A bit of sunshine today provides the opportunity to photograph the fruit-bearing Pacific Madrona in my yard.  The so-called "Strawberry Tree" continues to amaze me.  The fruits are arranged in clusters like grapes and are the size of large peas.  The surface is slightly rough, similar to orange peal.  Right-click the next photo to enlarge it and you'll see what I mean.

The color of the fruits is becoming more red as the days pass.  I have seen images on the net that show them a deep red color.  I am curious to see how far and for how long this will progress on my tree.

A Rose by Any Other Name...

I received some comments in a previous post about the tree's name.  I have read they are called Arbutus in Canada, Madrones in California and Madronas in Washington and Oregon.  Apparently it is not that cut and dried.  Ivan who lives in Portland and Lance Sjogren who grew up in Portland tell me they call them Madrones.  Jill, on the other hand, was raised near Portland, but now lives in Seattle.  She calls them Madronas like I do.  Canadian authors Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon call them Arbutus (the tree's binomial is Arbutus menziesii) and give Madrone as the alternate common name.  I grew up in Gig Harbor in the south Puget Sound area and to us they were Madronas.  Madrone sounds very strange to my ear.

Interestingly, the Blogger spelling checker likes Arbutus, but neither Madrona nor Madrone passes muster.

What do you call this wonderful tree and where do you live?  I would be interested to hear from more people.  By whatever name, I am sure everyone will agree that the Arbutus/Madrone/Madrona is truly one of Nature's works of art.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bridge to Nowhere

Well, not really nowhere, but early on a foggy morning, you might get that impression.  This is the Deception Pass Bridge and it takes us to some very important places, including several sites in Deception Pass State Park.

I have discovered that I enjoy taking photographs in the fog.  Ordinary things take on a different look that can be interesting.  Also fog, like snow, is a weather event that can be photographed.  It is not possible to photograph wind.  Only the effects of the wind can be shown in a picture.  I have not found a good way to photograph rain, but I'll keep trying.

We have had several days now that have started with thick fog like this.  Then by afternoon, it clears away giving us sunshine, only to return again after nightfall.  October is often our foggiest month.

On a Saturday morning, you will find Pacific Northwesterners playing outdoors, regardless of the weather.  This is Deception Pass from North Beach near the Amphitheater.  The bridge is barely visible in the fog (click on the photo for a larger image).  The only sounds at the time were coming from sea birds.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Madrona Progress Report

Last month, I posted some photos of my fruiting Madrona Tree.  As I mentioned then, this is the first time I have seen this happen.  I have no idea how this will progress.  It has now been about three weeks and the berries have swollen a bit.  The clusters now sport a bright orange color making the tree look decorated for Halloween.  In the morning sun, this Madrona really stands out from the crowd right now.  In this group that lines my driveway, it is the only one bearing fruit.

The berries resemble clusters of small, orange grapes.  This morning, the branches were alive with chickadees, perhaps two dozen in number.  They did not seem interested in the fruits.  Instead, they come for the insects and spiders that make their home in the tree.

Elsewhere in the Garden

Meanwhile, my Japanese Stewartia (S. pseudocamelia) has also taken on its autumn attire.  As fall progresses, the leaves will become more burgundy colored.  Like the Madrona, it has interesting colored bark that exfoliates.  It will display pastel shades of gray, pink, green and beige through the winter.

Looking closer, autumn Stewartia leaves are multicolored in shades of red, orange, purple and green.  Like camelias, they are members of the Tea family.  In the spring, they produce large, white, camelia-like flowers.

I cannot pass up an opportunity to include the native Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) in its fall colors.  My Japanese Maples are just beginning to turn.  They should be looking their best towards the end of the month.


Finally, please note that the domain name for this blog has changed to  Followers may want to update your blogrolls or RSS feeds as appropriate.

There is a bit of history behind this name.  Beginning in 2006, it was the domain name of my first weather website.  It was hosted by Microsoft and used the Office Live Small Business platform. Following Microsoft's usual pattern, however, in 2010 they announced the service would be discontinued.  At this point, I moved the site to Blogger with the domain  While either address will work, using the new domain name will avoid the redirect.