Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog

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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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. Their expertise ranges from how best to man...
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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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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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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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Riparian Planting in Eastern Washington

Stream Stewardship
I visited several salmon restoration projects in the Yakima Basin at the end of October, and I was excited to see the progress being made to restore native willows, cottonwood, red-osier dogwood, and grasses in old road beds, formerly channelized streams, and other challenging sites. Some resources about planting along streams and rivers in eastern Washington have crossed my path recently, and I thought I would share them with you. The first is a save-the-date announcement from Heather Simmons a...
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Are Generous Plant Lovers the Happiest People on Earth?

Giving Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Giving Tuesday may have come and gone, but opportunities to give abound this time of year. But why give? As Gretchen Reynolds points out in a recent New York Times article , "the scientific evidence that generosity is good for us has been scant, even as the benefits of selfishness are obvious." However, in the same article she cites a study in which half the study subjects agreed to give money away (i.e., be generous) and the other half agreed to keep money fo...
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A Message from the New WNPS President: Don Schaechtel

Don Schaechtel WNPS President
Hi Washington Native Plant Society Members: I am honored to be elected by the WNPS Board of Directors to serve as your President for the coming year.I had been a member of WNPS several times in the 90s, but got serious about the Society while leading Mountaineers Naturalist trips in 2005.One of our other leaders ran into Alan Yen's WNPS field trip on the Iron Peak trail, and Alan identified a plant that had baffled all of us: Ivesia tweedyii .That encounter introduced us to the collection of WNP...
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Goodbye Koz

The first word I had that another giant had passed away was this email on March 10 from Mike Ramsey, one of my colleagues at the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office:  "My sincere blessings and gratitude to Eugene Kozloff, for his contributions to Puget Sound and coastal waters education and conservation. In my early years of nearshore education and work Seashore Life of the North Pacific Coast was the primary and sometimes only available reference (published in 1983)." Anoth...
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Botanize Bigger!

With your help, the Washington Native Plant Society will reach its fundraising goal for today's GiveBIG event! We are tantalizingly close to reaching our $10,000 goal. You have until midnight tonight, May 10, 2017, to help put us over the top. Log in now and make your gift.  Big or small, all gifts during GiveBIG bring strength to WNPS. GiveBIG , hosted by the Seattle Foundation, is an opportunity to show your support for Washington's native flora. Help the Washington Native Plant Society d...
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Botanize Big, part 2

How About a Hike? Or a class? Or go to a chapter program? There's plenty going on. Check out the field trips , programs , and other activities for plant lovers statewide. Here are a few activities I'm hoping to attend: " Revising the 'Flora of the Pacific Northwest'-What did we Learn and What's Next" by David Giblin, at the Mountaineers in Seattle. This is the Central Puget Sound Chapter's monthly program on June 1, 2017. Click for more info . I'm going to miss the Study Weekend (and it's waitin...
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Happy Trails Joe!

Joe Arnett, long-time rare plant botanist with the Washington Natural Heritage Program , retired at the end of July. Joe has worn many volunteer hats with the Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS). Among the roles that I know he has played are: at-large board member, instructor in the Native Plant Stewardship Program , field trip leader, Editorial Committee member, writer for Douglasia and member newsletters, Study Weekend and Botany Washington trip leader, and guest speaker for chapter program...
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Yellow Lady's Slipper - Signed Limited Edition Print

In celebration of the Washington Native Plant Society's 30th Anniversary, we are excited to announce our first limited edition print of a botanical watercolor. The subject of this print is the Washington threatened yellow lady's slipper. The yellow lady's slipper ( Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb.) is a Washington state threatened plant. It is found in wet forests, bogs, and on the periphery of ponds in low moist areas in north central and north-eastern Washington. Most populations in Washington ...
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Explorations in 2017 with the Washington Native Plant Society

Explorations in 2017 with the Washington Native Plant Society
By Sarah Gage . Published March 12, 2017 Registration is now open for three stellar events of the Washington State botanizing year: the annual Study Weekend, Botany Washington, and the Know Your Grasses Workshop. Study Weekend 2017—WNPS Annual Member Event This year's study weekend is hosted by the Northeast Chapter of WNPS. Titled From Sagebrush to Subalpine: Exploring the Diversity of Eastern Washington Flora, the three-day event ( May 17–19, 2017 ) will be headquartered at Eastern Washington ...
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Washington’s Cherries

Washington’s Cherries
When I was growing up, February had a lot going for it, with three holidays. Lincoln's birthday (February 12 th —studying by firelight; Honest Abe; top hats), Valentine's Day (February 14 th —giving, and hopefully receiving, Valentine cards; candy hearts; a stomach ache by nightfall), and Washington's birthday (February 22 nd —noble profile; wooden teeth; cherry pie). Two days off, with romance in between! What I most remember learning about George Washington in elementary school was that he cho...
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