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Showing posts from April, 2016

Miracle Madrona

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Living in the weather can be interesting.  Late last August, we were hit by a freak windstorm.  A sudden gust of wind from the west snapped off a couple of the neighbors' tall Douglas Firs.


Those firs landed in my driveway and upper garden.  They snapped off one of the Madronas that line the driveway (near the center of the photo with red trunk).  Pacific Madronas(Arbutus menziesii) are nifty trees that don't grow just anywhere.  They are nearly impossible to transplant.  I felt bad to lose one of the big ones.  I was left with a four foot high stump without any foliage.  I had the tree service cut it off at the ground level when they cleaned up the firs.

The other day when I went up for the mail, something at the edge of the driveway caught my eye (first photo).  That cut off Madrona is growing new shoots from the margin of the cut end.  For a fussy tree that is difficult to grow, this is indeed a miracle.  Apparently, if they like the spot, neither tempests nor chainsaws ca…

Blushing Dunes

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If drifts of wild rhododendrons aren't enough, then consider the West Beach sand dunes at Deception Pass State Park.  Every spring, they become washed in magenta because of a little annual flower called Sea Blush(Plectritis congesta).


Although West Beach sits about a hundred miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, the conditions here are ocean-like.  Winds off the Strait of Juan de Fuca built the sand dunes cutting off what is now Cranberry Lake.  The lake was once an inlet off the Strait.  A unique and beautiful ecosystem was created.  Visitors can explore the dunes over an easy 1.2 mile (2 km) interpretive trail.  Along the way are signs describing the features of the dunes.


Every spring at about this time, sections of the dunes take on the look of bright oriental carpets.  This event would seem to be an illustration of the word "incongruous."


This crouching little plant, here barely 3 inches/8 cm tall to avoid the winds, is the cause of the spectacle.  Part of the mira…

A Goose Rock Botanical Tour

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There are more than trees in an old growth forest.  Much more.  The diversity of plant life is uncountable.  Let's take a hike around Goose Rock in Deception Pass State Park and see if there are any interesting native plants.  My favorite place to start is the trailhead at the North Beach parking lot.  My route will be the Discovery, Southwest Summit, Lower Forest, Goose Rock Perimeter, and Southeast Summit Trails.  I'll return via the Southwest Summit and Discovery Trails.  This is a route I have dubbed the "Rhododendron Trail."  There will be more about that in future posts.  Click or right-click the photos here to view them full size.



Clockwise from upper left:  Red Elderberry(Sambucus racemosa), Stinging Nettle(Urtica dioica),  Western Sword Fern(Polystichum munitum),  Step Moss(Hylocomium splendens).



Clockwise from upper left:  Western Starflower(Trientalis latifolia), Bracket Fungus(Formitopsis pinicola ??), Red-flowering Currant(Ribes sanguineum),Pacific Rhod…

Madrona Year

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Yesterday, I hiked the "Rhododendron Trail" at Deception Pass State Park to see how things were shaping up.  The rhodies are far from close to blooming yet, but my favorite tree is more spectacular than usual this year.  Everywhere I looked, the Pacific Madronas (Arbutus menziesii), a rhododendron cousin, were blooming more profusely than I have ever witnessed.  Above, from the Goose Rock Summit Trail, I was stunned by the display of this old giant Madrona below me.


The trees I saw coming up the trail were not flukes.  Those at the summit also blew me away.  Just driving to the park on Highway 20 I saw dozens more blooming along the road.  Even this was an amazing sight.


At the summit, this Madrona next to the trail was more rambling and shrub-like.  Madronas have adapted to harsh conditions produced by drought, wind and poor soil.  They will grow where other trees cannot.  The Goose Rock summit is pure stone, but this tree thrives here.

Goose Rock appears to be a volcanic…