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 quite ready, the Red Elderberries (Sambucus racemosa) are blooming like crazy all over Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. These photos were shot right at the North Beach parking lot. By summer, the blossoms will give way to bright, red, shiny clusters of berries favored by birds, but not humans.
At the parking lot and all along the trails I also spotted blooming Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis). The berries are delicious and loaded with Vitamin C. They have a lightly tart flavor that is very refreshing when hiking.
Meanwhile, now starting to bloom in the garden are species Rhododendron yakushimanum from Japan (left) and R. catawbiense 'Alba' native to the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern U.S.