Showing posts from April, 2014

Pacific Rhododendrons Today

I was back in Deception Pass State Park this morning to check on the wild Pacific Rhododendrons.  As usual, the journey begins on the North Beach Trail.  Once again, I was joined by Jerry who also came on the hike last Friday .  Jerry is from Texas but he lives here now.  He has become fascinated with our Pacific Northwest nature scene and how different it is from what he is used to.  He is like a sponge learning everything he can about this part of the world, We left the North Beach Trail to head up the Discovery Trail.  This archway under Highway 20 serves as a gateway to the rhododendron grove.  Even without the rhododendrons, this is one of the prettiest hikes in Deception Pass State Park.  Visitors will pass under some enormous Douglas Firs in this old-growth forest. We spotted many more blooms beginning to open on this visit.  As the buds begin to open, a flash of bright magenta makes them easier to locate. These buds are about half opened.  I would give them an

Pacific Rhododendrons...and Friends

On Friday April 25, I returned to the Pacific Rhododendron grove in Deception Pass State Park.  I wanted to check on the progress of the blooms.  A bit more color was showing, but the flowers were not yet fully opened. I began visiting these beautiful native shrubs last year .  This is probably going to become an annual tradition.  I have grown and enjoyed Rhododendrons in the garden for many years.  Visiting this grove is like a pilgrimage for me. The Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum) is the Washington State flower .  Deception Pass State Park is one of the few places where they can be found growing wild.  They grow in the shady understory of a mature coniferous forest on the southern flank of Goose Rock.  The usual bloom time is late April into early May. One blossom has been a bit more eager than the others and is almost fully opened.  The brown seed heads visible in the photos are the remnants of previous years' blooms.  Above the flower and to the left a

Pacific Rhododendron Seedlings

The Rhododendrons in your garden likely started life as cuttings taken from a parent plant.  Wild Rhododendrons, on the other hand, must grow from seeds.  The trick is to find the little guys.  On yesterday's visit to the Rhododendron grove in Deception Pass State Park, I was fortunate to spot these four seedlings.  The most interesting thing about them was they were not growing in soil.  They were sprouting from a nurse log , a fallen tree that is undergoing decay.  Nurse logs are important components in Pacific Northwest forest communities.  They provide a foothold, nutrients, moisture and protection to seedlings of all sorts.  In addition, a fallen tree opens the canopy just a bit allowing some nurturing sunlight to penetrate the deep forest shade.

Pacific Rhododendrons 4/21/14

I am back on the hunt for the wild Pacific Rhododendrons (R. macrophyllum) in Deception Pass State Park .  (Wow, the State Parks have a sparkling new website.)  It has now been two weeks since I first checked out the grove.  Today, right on schedule, the buds are just starting to show color as they begin to open. The Deception Pass grove is located along the Lower Forest Trail on the south face of Goose Rock.  The eastern side of this grove is accessed from the Southeast Summit Trail.  I am tentatively planning my next visit on Friday, April 25th.  If anyone wants to join me, we will meet between 09:30 and 09:45 in the morning at the North Beach parking lot.  This is accessed from the main park entrance on Whidbey Island.  Veer right at the Y or ask the ranger at the gate for directions.  These plans can change depending on the weather.  Watch my Twitter account  @DaveOnFidalgo for updates.  I will use the hashtag #PacRhododendron . While the Rhododendrons are not

Sigma 18-200mm DC Macro Lens Part 2

Last week, I took my new Sigma 18-200mm  f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM lens out for a test drive at Deception Pass State Park.   In Part 1 , I posted photos taken around the Deception Pass bridge.  For Part 2, I am posting photos from the West Beach/Cranberry Lake area of the park.  The site provided the opportunity to try the lens on several different kinds of subjects.  First up are some landscape shots taken along the Sand Dune Loop Trail.  It is spring and the dormancy of winter is giving way to fresh new growth everywhere.  All of the photos were shot with a Canon 7D in the raw format and edited with Photoshop Elements 11. A unique dune forest borders the eastern edge of the sand dunes.  Douglas Fir and Sitka Spruce are the dominant trees in the forest.  Beyond the forest are the Cranberry Lake wetlands.  This was originally all part of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Fine ocean sands blowing off the Strait built up and cut the lake off from the sea.  Gradually, springs and rain