My blog friend Whidbey Woman posted some photos the other day taken at Cranberry Lake in Deception Pass State Park, Washington. One, in particular, caught my eye. Some of the West Beach Sand Dunes next to the lake appeared to have turned pink and I had to check this out myself. I was amazed by what I found.
The flowers responsible for this spring display are aptly called Sea Blush (Plectritis congesta). Like most of the plants in the Sand Dunes, it is low growing, only about 4 inches/10 cm tall. According to Pojar, it is common near the ocean from the Strait of Georgia south to California. It is an annual, growing anew from seed every year.
While Cranberry Lake and West Beach are technically not "near the ocean," the conditions here are similar to oceanfront. It was quite windy during my visit and the wind had kicked up a surf. A good 30 mph/25 kt sustained wind was blowing off the strait, a reminder of the weather conditions that created the sand dunes. Cranberry Lake was originally part of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The winds built the dunes, gradually cutting the lake off from the sea. Over time, fresh water springs replaced the salt water in the lake. This is a great example of how weather can dramatically change the landscape. The winds this day put the flowers into constant motion. It was a challenge getting a decent close-up photo.
Slowly, plants and trees colonized the sand dunes. It is now the vegetation, and the careful stepping of visitors, that protect them. If the plants are damaged, the winds could blow the sands to new locations and Cranberry Lake might be lost to the sea again.
Last January, I posted an article about the Sand Dunes Interpretive Trail here. Another post introduced a wonderful, old Douglas Fir which has stood witness over these dunes for some 850 years. On this visit, I also caught some charming photos of Canada Geese family life which are posted over at Wild Fidalgo. While I have been here many times, this beautiful floral display came as a surprise to me. I am grateful to Whidbey Woman for revealing this special feature.