Showing posts from April, 2015

The Rhododendron Trail Plus Two

Yesterday's visit to the rhododendron grove in Deception Pass State Park revealed that the blossoms are finally starting to open.  With some warmer weather, the blooming should go quickly now. Again, rain had been predicted, but it did not materialize.  There was a heavy, dark overcast which created very poor lighting for photos in the forest understory.  It was almost like night in some spots.  Nevertheless, I did manage to get a few shots of the opening buds. Based on what I am seeing, this year's bloom may not be as spectacular as it was last year.  I could be wrong about this.  The flower buds can be difficult to spot at a distance from the trail.  Rhody flower buds are set during late summer for next year's bloom.  The conditions at this time can determine the quality and quantity of next year's flowers.  I have also read that if there is a heavy bloom one year, some plants might take a year off. As we have seen in previous posts, you can f

The Rhododendron Trail 2015 Week 4

60% chance of rain was yesterday's weather forecast for Anacortes and Oak Harbor.  In fact, it turned out to be cool and breezy and partly sunny, but rain-free until after dark last night.  Such is often the case with predicting weather in the Olympic Rain Shadow .  Today, it is dark and overcast with a steady light rain.  My garden needed this rain. This photo is of north Whidbey Island taken from the top of Goose Rock on yesterday's hike.  Those are the Olympic Mountains peaking through the clouds in the background.  Near the center is the Whidbey Naval Air Station. While the weather cooperated, the Pacific Rhododendrons at Deception Pass State Park did not.  The buds have not changed since my first hike into the grove.  By this time last year , there was definite color showing. Still, only that one atypical blossom we have seen in the previous posts is showing its stuff right now. Left:   Salal (Gaultheria shallon) is in full bloom.  This is a cou

Three Icons of the PNW

I was out early this morning working in the garden.  After I did some pruning, I finished planting the containers in the basement patio.  I planted Petunias in the hanging baskets where the slugs can't get to them.  For the big pots on the patio, Geraniums, Lobelia and yellow Marigolds.  This is also where the bird feeders are.  While I worked, a Townsend's Chipmunk joined me, completely unafraid.  There were peanuts to be collected, after all. I used to plant Nasturtiums because the rabbits, deer and slugs didn't like them.  Then, the pots became infected with Pseudomonas and that was the end of that.  Who knew plants could catch bacterial infections?  I added some critter repellent to keep the deer away and the squirrels from digging in the pots.  Now I'm going to have to be diligent with slug patrols. Just as I was finishing up, a Bald Eagle landed in one of my trees, so I took his picture. Just after noon, a tugboat steamed into Skagit Bay with a raft of

The Rhododendron Trail 2015 Week 3

Again this week, that same extra early blossom has opened a bit more.  It's not what we would call a 5-star blossom either.  It is a bit of an outlier in both timing and conformation.  I have been looking for information to explain why one blossom on a shrub will open prematurely.  If anyone has an answer to this I would appreciate a link. None of its companions in the rhododendron grove are showing any color at all yet.  It will be at least another week or two before the buds start to open.  Nevertheless, there are plenty of other things going on along the Rhododendron Trail in Deception Pass State Park. It was a busy morning for Douglas Squirrels (Tamiasciurus douglasii) .  I spotted two close-up along the Lower Forest and Discovery Trails.  Both were so preoccupied with their Douglas Fir Cone breakfasts, they barely gave me a notice.  One by one, they pulled the cone scales off to get to the seed underneath.  Like so many things around here, they are named for

Trolling a State Park

According to Wikipedia , "in internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community [...] with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." The term has been extended to include visit spam and comment spam on websites, and spam registrations in communities.  For the latter, the goal is harassment of members.  The once great and wonderful Nature Blog Network is now gone because of this behavior .  My first encounter with this was in a community that promotes tree planting.  I was contacted by a "member" who wanted to send me nude pictures of herself. Trolls are the people who try to ruin the internet for everyone else.  It now appears that trolling has moved into the real world, and Deception Pass State Park has been touched by it.