Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog
Jul
30

Three Ts on Tiger Mountain

  Last summer I trained for a 9-day hike, which led me up the stony, steep, and well-traveled trail of West Tiger 3 near Issaquah several times. While not a botanical barnburner, the West Tiger 3 trail has its floral pleasures. Lois Kemp put together the Washington Native Plant Society plant list for all of Tiger Mountain back in 1995 (the plant lists are now housed in a responsive data system , developed with support from the Garneau-Nicon Foundation and chapters of the Washington Native P...
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Jul
28

Bees, Trees, Keys, and “Say Cheese”: A Midsummer Medley

Bumble bee on balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)Photo: Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office It's the height of summer—a busy and lazy time of year. Here are several options to increase your enjoyment and engagement with Washington's native flora during the summer months, and beyond. Bees My garden is abuzz, and I've been wanting to learn more about the bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, spiders and other multi-legged inhabitants. So I was excited to hear about the Pacific No...
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Jun
25

Kids Growing Sagebrush for Restoration

School may be out for the summer, but kids at an elementary school in Pasco, Washington,  will be caring for a sagebrush plant during vacation. In the fall, they will plant out their seedling to help restore a burned area of Candy Mountain in West Richland. At Robert Frost Elementary School, the sagebrush growing and planting project is the brainchild of Washington Native Plant Society member Gretchen Graber and AmeriCorps tutor Erin Davis, in cooperation with teachers, the school administr...
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Jun
05

WNPS Annual Awards: Recognizing the Exceptional

WNPS has two awards that are intended to be given annually by the WNPS State Board of Directors: the WNPS Mentzelia Award and the WNPS Outstanding Partner Award.   Awards are presented annually at the Study Weekend event. 2018 WNPS Mentzelia Award: Bill Brookreson Bill Brookreson at Davis Canyon. The 2018 WNPS Mentzelia Award is presented to a WNPS member who has made a significant contribution to native plant conservation, research or education in Washington State. This year's Me...
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May
27

An End-of-May Garden Walk

Goat's beard (Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus)Photo: Sarah Gage What's in bloom? What's in leaf? What's thriving? What is pffft? These are the perennial questions a gardener asks in May. I've been spending some long days in my Seattle garden, enjoying the lingering twilights and mild temperatures. This goat's beard ( Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus ) is a surprise. It's only been in the ground a year or so, and last year it was puny. I wasn't sure it was going to survive—or that I would remember...
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Apr
29

Pad Thai and Mima Mounds

Mima Mounds Natural Area PreservePhoto: Sarah Gage Common camas ( Camassia quamash ) is blooming along I-5 between Tacoma and Olympia, and that means it's time for my annual pilgrimage to the Mima Mounds with a to-go order of pad thai. The Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve is about 16 miles south of Olympia, west of Little Rock. It's managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources to preserve the mounds themselves and the prairie ecosystem that covers them here. This Puget prairie gras...
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Apr
21

Seola Pond Project

More than 50 kids weeded, dug, and planted at a small neighborhood pond in unincorporated King County, thanks to the creativity and perseverance of a neighborhood volunteer, Scott Dolfay. Scott received an $800 education grant from the Washington Native Plant Society to buy plants and signage. He also received a small grant from King County. Seola Pond is part of the Seola Creek Drainage Basin , just north of Burien and southwest of White Center, in unincorporated King County. Scott had noticed ...
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Mar
31

I’m a fool for April

Sagebrush violet (Viola trinervata)Photo: Ben Legler April is finally here, with its promise of warmer and longer days and a bit more rain. It's a busy month, no mistake, starting off with a trifecta of Easter, Passover, and April Fool's Day. It's National Poetry Month, and it seems like every family I talk with is all abuzz with plans for "spring break." What else will April 2018 bring? Will it be cruel, as T.S. Eliot famously declared in The Waste Land, April is the cruellest month, breeding L...
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Mar
11

Joe and Margaret Miller's Legacy

Trunks of western red cedar (Thuja plicata)Photo: Ben Legler In early January, the Washington Native Plant Society received a generous bequest from the estate of WNPS Fellows Joe and Margaret Miller. Joe passed away in 2007 and Margaret passed away in 2015. Although I never met the Millers, I often heard Art Kruckeberg speak fondly of them as advocates for the North Cascades and founding members of WNPS. One of Joe and Margaret's great contributions was a 1971 floristic survey of the Big Beaver ...
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Feb
26

How You Can Help Prevent and Stop Invasive Species

European coltsfoot, Tussilago farfaraPhoto: Crow Vecchio Our friends at the Washington Invasive Species Council, whose work closely aligns with our goals of conserving native plants and plant habitats, have a bunch of great suggestions for preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species. And in conjunction with National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed February 25 to March 3, 2018 as Washington Invasive Species Awareness Week. Clean your gear  C...
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Feb
03

Plant Profile: Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea, a.k.a. Cornus stolonifera)

Why choose red-osier dogwood?  This fast-growing shrub pleases every month of the year. During dark winter days, its red twigs glow under sunny or gray skies. Leafing out, the shrub forms a fresh green backdrop to its own clusters of creamy-white flowers and to other spring-bloomers. Red-osier dogwood will often bloom into late fall, so that you can see it with both flowers and its blue-white berries when the leaves turn yellow or maroon.  What it can do in the garden Red-osier dogwood...
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Jan
31

2018 Washington Botanical Symposium

Washington vernal pool, photo by Joe Rocchio The Washington Native Plant Society is proud to announce our involvement as a sponsor for the 2018 Washington Botanical Symposium. This program is co-hosted by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and the University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum. The symposium features an extensive network of professional, academic, and amateur botanists are actively engaged in the conservation, management, and study of Washington's diverse flora...
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Jan
15

Native vs. Nonnative Plants in Pollinator Gardens

​It seems these days that questions about butterfly and pollinator gardens have moved on from "why?" to "what shall we plant?"—with the conversation often turning to whether or not it is better to plant native species than nonnative ones. Led by Andrew Salisbury of the Royal Horticultural Society, a team of researchers in Britain undertook a four-year study to try to provide an answer. Their work was published in May 2017 in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation .  The research was done...
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Jan
01

Gleanings 2017

As we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, I'm cleaning up, cleaning out, and looking ahead! Flipping through my electronic and paper files, I found a number of items that didn't make it into Botanical Rambles in 2017 that I still wanted to share with you. I grew up reading the columnist Herb Caen in the San Francisco Chronicle. He practiced what he called "three dot journalism," in which he connected short news pieces…or anecdotes…or tasty gossip…with ellipses. Though I can't hope to emulate ...
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Dec
11

The Holly and the Ivy…Festive, but Not in Your Forest!

Tip of the Holly This is an English holly ( Ilex aquifolium , see photo below) that I pulled out of the ground. What I want to impress upon you are the measurements. From the top to the root collar is about 12 inches. The root then extends another 36 inches. Folks, that's a 2-to-1 root-to-shoot ratio. Maybe they should change the expression "tip of the iceberg" to "tip of the holly." Can you imagine what the root system is like on larger hollies? This is one of the big problems with this invasiv...
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