Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog

Sarah Gage was the founder for the Washington Native Plant Society Blog. She is a writer and editor, a broad-spectrum botanist, a cranky gardener, and an accidental bureaucrat. Her writing has appeared in the Seattle Times, The Seattle Weekly, Willow Springs, and Douglasia, as well as in numerous scientific papers and government reports.

Sarah has won three awards for creative nonfiction and been a finalist for two others. Her botanical work includes managing the University of Washington Herbarium for thirteen years (1988–2001), co-authoring A Centenary Survey of Plant Life in Washington State, and participating in the International Kuril Island Project (1995–2000). Sarah lives and gardens in Seattle, works at the Recreation and Conservation Office in Olympia, and hikes wherever she can.

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

Legler_Cornus
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...
Continue reading
251 Hits

Gleanings 2017

happy-new-year
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 ...
Continue reading
160 Hits

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...
Continue reading
Tags:
250 Hits

Are Generous Plant Lovers the Happiest People on Earth?

2018-WNPS-calenda_20171201-223816_1
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...
Continue reading
137 Hits

Goodbye Koz

kozloff
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...
Continue reading
88 Hits

Botanize Bigger!

philadelphus_lewisii_jim_elinboe-300x201
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...
Continue reading
Tags:
83 Hits

Botanize Big, part 2

Inslee-NPAW-2017-300x27_20171008-155608_1
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...
Continue reading
94 Hits

Happy Trails Joe!

JoeArnett-WenatcheeHills-300x21_20171008-154423_1
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...
Continue reading
126 Hits

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 ...
Continue reading
98 Hits

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...
Continue reading
93 Hits

Plant Profile: Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)

Plant Profile: Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)
It's that Valentine's Day time of year, and hearts and flowers are on everyone's mind. This week I'm expanding on a short piece I wrote for WNPS a few years ago that appeared in the Seattle Times ( here it is in the Times ) and other papers around the state. Pacific Bleeding Heart ( Dicentra formosa ) Why it's choice This perennial's lacy leaves and delicate pink flowers belie its rugged disposition. Pacific bleeding heart's blue-green foliage and heart-shaped blossoms lighten up full to part sh...
Continue reading
59 Hits

February: Time to Plan

February: Time to Plan
As I write this, it's a bit soggy and cold and gray. Out in the garden, though, buds on evergreen huckleberry ( Vaccinium ovatum ) are pinking up, the hazelnut ( Corylus) catkins are starting to dangle, and the inflorescences of the red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum ) on the south side of the house are busting open. February is a month of possibilities and planning. Here are a few of the many offerings from the Washington Native Plant Society and friends. Photo Contest: deadline February 1...
Continue reading
84 Hits

Shout Outs for 2016

Shout Outs for 2016
As the old year fades and the new one emerges, Botanical Rambles counts down 2016 with ten heartfelt shout outs to some of the people who work for the native plants of Washington State. And as the clock runs down, don't forget to make that all-important year-end donation to the Washington Native Plant Society. This highly idiosyncratic collection of praise is by no means all-inclusive. I'd love to hear from you: who, what, when, and where are your native plant heroes of the past year? 1. "We lea...
Continue reading
73 Hits

Western Hemlock: A Grinch of Greens

Western Hemlock: A Grinch of Greens
Many of us bring evergreen boughs or trees into the house this time of year. And how many of us have made the mistake of bringing Western hemlock ( Tsuga heterophylla ) into our homes—only to find needles everywhere. Everywhere, no matter how fresh the branches. The Internet tells us that hemlocks are "not the best" for seasonal decorations. When I worked at the University of Washington Herbarium, occasionally I would get a request for a specimen of Washington's state tree, western hemlock, from...
Continue reading
104 Hits

Across Washington State in Wildflowers

Across Washington State in Wildflowers
Do you, or does someone you know, want to learn several of the most beautiful plants in Washington State by sight? During these winter days, a great way to do that is to hang the poster "Wildflowers Across Washington" where you can contemplate it daily. I have been gazing at "Wildflowers Across Washington" since it was first produced, back in the 1990s. At the time, I was working at the University of Washington Herbarium. One day, three volunteers with the Washington Native Plant Society met at ...
Continue reading
59 Hits

Subscribe to eNews & Blog

Stay up-to-date with a monthly email from WNPS showcasing new blog articles, important announcements, and monthly events across the state.

Search Blog

Search Blog by Date

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar