Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog
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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536 Hits
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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465 Hits
Dec
01

Riparian Planting in Eastern Washington

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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603 Hits
May
10

Botanize Bigger!

Lewis’s mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii)Photo by Jim Ellinboe 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 Washi...
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237 Hits
Sep
04

Goodbye Sarah Reichard, and “Where Do We Go From Here?”

I was stunned to learn that Dr. Sarah Reichard passed away in her sleep in late August while leading a UW Botanic Gardens tour in South Africa. I first met Sarah in 1981, when she was an undergraduate in Botany at the same time I was earning my Masters at the University of Washington. I saw her most recently at the memorial service for Dr. Art Kruckeberg , where we shared memories of Art. We chatted about my recent trip to the Chelsea Flower Show in London and her then-upcoming trip to South Afr...
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233 Hits
Jul
29

Tussling with Tussilago

Habit of Tussilago farfaraPhoto by Crow Vecchio In late April of 2016, Kristyn Loving noticed some unusual plants by the side of a road in Mt.Rainier National Park. As one of the park's communication's staff, she is always looking for new stories—and incidentally, new plants. No one in the park offices was familiar with the plants she'd found. But two Mt. Rainier volunteers, Crow Vecchio and Carol Miltimore , who have each racked up impressive volunteer credentials at the park, are also PNW IPC ...
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234 Hits
Jun
24

In the field with Art Kruckeberg

Art Kruckeberg, one of the founders of the Washington Native Plant Society, passed away on May 25, 2016, age 96. He was a grand old man of Washington botany, a mentor, and a mensch. Formal obituaries may be found in the Seattle Times and on the University of Washington Biology web page. What follows is an appreciation of Art that I wrote for the Washington Native Plant Society journal Douglasia in 2000. Art Kruckeburg, 1920-2016Photo by Doug Henderson (1969) The faithful and the newly converted ...
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212 Hits
Apr
25

Join the Celebration: Native Plant Appreciation Week 2016

Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed April 24 through May 1, 2016 to be Native Plant Appreciation Week across Washington State—and you're invited to help the Washington Native Plant Society celebrate. The Washington Native Plant Society is 40 years old this year, and it's Washington's 12 th year of celebrating our flora with Native Plant Appreciation Week. Poster for 2016 Native Plant Appreciation Week. Photo by Ted Alway Klickitat Canyon Lomatium spp. April 2016Photo by Sarah Gage Take a trip I'v...
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187 Hits
Mar
14

Dates to Remember: Botanical Activities Abound!

Cue the overwhelm. The spring rush is upon us. Washington Native Plant Society activities Opportunities from other organizations Washington Native Plant Society Activities April 1, 2016 No fooling, applications for the South Sound Native Plant Stewardship Training are due April 1! The Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) and its South Sound Chapter are offering a Native Plant Stewardship Program for Pierce and Thurston Counties in Spring 2016. The six-week, no-cost program combines classroom l...
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241 Hits
Jan
01

Winter Berries for the Birds

On a cold fall day, I stand at my back door near Snohomish watching leaves lifted and tossed as if by an invisible wind. Leaves seem to bounce off the ground as I count a dozen orange and black birds rummaging under the bushes as if going through yesterday's trash. I realize a flock of varied thrush ( Ixoreus naevius ) have arrived. For the next several months, they will subsist on a buffet of bugs and berries in my small garden. Specimen of Viburnum edule from the University of Washington Herba...
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222 Hits
Oct
21

Stewardship Training Opportunity in Everett

Newsflash: New Dates for Training The training has been re-scheduled for November 12 through December 3. Fall is always a great time to learn something new. While the Washington Native Plant Society isn't currently offering its Native Plant Stewardship Program , here's a training opportunity from one of our partners that you might find interesting. National Wildlife Federation Habitat Stewards Training Program Community stewardship at Interlaken Park, Seattle. Photographer: Rick Thompson, all ri...
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217 Hits
Aug
12

Principles of Kick-butt Gardening

​For many gardeners, gardens embody desirable objectives such as cultural and personal expression, sustenance, nurturing, the world's beauty, self-reliance, faith…. Nonetheless, gardening is consumptive. It consumes your time, energy, resources (water, gas, fertilizers, pesticides), money, and land. A number of shortcuts, methods, and technologies are available to make gardens consume fewer resources and to save you time and money. A worthy and attainable garden goal is a self-sufficient garden ...
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202 Hits
Aug
10

The Invasion of Lake Joy

Sgian and Aeden Peterson fight the battle against fragrant water lily.Photo by Amy Peterson Lake Joy Lake Joy is a community of single family homes and summer cabins nestled halfway between the towns of Carnation and Duvall in western Washington State. Bald eagles, great blue herons, kingfishers, river otters, deer, black bears, the occasional cougar, bats, and owls live here. Many migratory waterfowl come through in the fall and spring. Red and orange sunsets make way for starlit nights. The la...
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Aug
01

Coevolution and Pollination

Sidalcea oregana var. calva, photo by Joe Arnett The coevolution of flowering plants and their animal pollinators presents one of nature's most striking examples of adaption and specialization. It also demonstrates how the interaction between two groups of organisms can be a font of biological diversity. Flowering plants are adapting to their pollinators, which are in turn adapting to the plants. Each of the participating organisms thus presents an evolutionary "moving target". The relationship ...
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273 Hits
Jul
18

When in Drought…

Back in May, Governor Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency . Now in July, the U.S. government has declared over 40 percent of Washington State a federal drought disaster area . Mt. Rainier National Park reports late summer-like conditions: On Lower Paradise trails, only some flowers still in bloom: False Hellebore, Gray's Mountain Lovage, American Bistort, and Subalpine Daisy. On Deadhorse Creek and West Side of Skyline Trail, very few flowers. All lupine have gone to seed. At Sunrise o...
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220 Hits
Jul
12

Fires of Summer

It's so hot, July feels like August. But then, so did June. Washington State's continuing drought and hot weather, combined with our Mediterranean climate (i.e., not much summer rain) spells extreme fire danger. So it seems timely to think about how native plants can be part of fire preparedness. This house was spared from the Naneum Canyon wildfire in 2010, thanks in part to the homeowner’s use of Firewise landscaping.Photo: Washington Department of Natural Resources Firewise As Steve McConnell...
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208 Hits
Jun
20

Just Because It’s June, June, June: News and Notes from the Washington Native Plant Society

Where Have You Been Rambling?  You may be forgiven for wondering if Botanical Rambles had rambled off in to the sunset, considering that the most recent post was May 6 th ! Your humble blog curator has been overly busy with her day job, notably helping to organize the 2015 Salmon Recovery Conference and then (trying) to catch up on many end-of-biennium tasks. Washington Park Loop RoadPhoto from City of Anacortes It hasn't been all work. I introduced an out-of-town visitor to the pleasures o...
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214 Hits
May
05

Got Milkweed?

Monarch butterflyPhoto courtesy of the Xerces Society Western monarch butterflies, like those in the eastern part of North America, are in trouble. Their populations have declined sharply in the last twenty years. In Washington, the western monarch ( Danaus plexippus plexippus ) and its host plant milkweed ( Asclepias sp.) are found only east of the Cascades. In western Washington, we have no native species of Asclepias . And… no milkweed, no monarchs. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) an...
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220 Hits
Apr
20

Botanical Bonanza!

April and May always leave me gasping for breath. Each year, the onrush of flowers and field trips and plant sales and programs whooshes in and sweeps me along. I hope that you, too, are having a botanically busy bonanza of a time. Here's just a sampling of what's going on in the weeks to come: April 26 to May 2: Native Plant Appreciation Week Native Plant Appreciation Week is a great time to celebrate Washington's floristic diversity. With over 3,000 native plant species growing in deserts, rai...
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240 Hits
Feb
03

Golden Paintbrush 2014 Global Population Estimates Released

Enter your caption here Golden paintbrush ( Castilleja levisecta ) has been the focus of much restoration effort in the Puget Sound region for over a decade. The species is listed as Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.. With substantial funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, land managers with a large number of partners, including land trusts, state and federal agencies, as well as other organizations, have made enormous strides in recovering this species. By the late ...
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200 Hits
Nov
11

How About A Hedgerow?

With fall planting season upon us, Jeanie Taylor encourages us to consider a hedgerow. Don't say you don't have room for a hedgerow! You can grow a hedgerow even on an urban lot—atop a rockery, along the fence line, or in your parking strip. Hedgerow. Photo courtesy of geograph.org.uk What is a hedgerow? Hedgerows traditionally were used as fences between fields. A "laid hedge" in England contained thorny plants like hawthorn to act as a barrier. Each tree or shrub was cut through the lower trun...
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231 Hits
Sep
05

Pollination: A Sampler

If it is axiomatic that nature will allow or support "whatever works," it is our observation that many, many different things "work" in nature. The wide diversity in floral structures and pollination strategies exemplify this propensity for variety.There are endless variations on the basic story of pollen grains making their way to the stigma of an appropriate pistil, and many are easy to see if you look. Variation one Go out in late winter and check out the elongating catkins of beaked hazel ( ...
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224 Hits
May
28

Watch Out for Weeds this Summer!

Impatiens sp. Touch-me-not Coming up in June are several free training opportunities to learn how to identify invasive plants that threaten our national forests and wilderness areas. First up is a June 1 st Weed Watcher training in North Bend, and attendees will learn to identify and map priority invasive plants along trails in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This training is co-hosted by the King County Noxious Weed Control Program, The Mountaineers, and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Natio...
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188 Hits
Apr
20

April is the Cruellest Month…

With apologies to T.S. Eliot , does anyone else feel pulled in a thousand directions this month? So many things to do and see and learn. April is designated as National Poetry Month and Earth Awareness Month . Consulting my WNPS wall calendar , I find that April includes Washington State Arbor Day (second Wednesday), Earth Day (April 22), and National Arbor Day (last Friday). Rounding out the month is Native Plant Appreciation Week (April 27-May 3, 2014). Western red cedar (Thuja plicata). Photo...
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218 Hits
Mar
06

I’m a Vector, You’re a Vector Too

Several years ago, I was on an autumn larch hike led by Clayton Antieau, a past-President and long-time board member of the Washington Native Plant Society. Several of us on the hike had lugged our copies of Hitchcock and Cronquist up to the subalpine meadow in our day packs. These well-worn volumes had weighted down many a hike before. Once we arrived in the meadow, we cracked open our floras to start the delightful tedium of keying out plants in habitat. Out fell plant remnants from previous f...
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195 Hits
Feb
25

Let’s Get Real about Stewardship

Stewardship. Everyone uses that word these days, but I realized I wasn't exactly sure what it means. So I looked it up. Stewardship is "the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something." As someone who cares about Washington's native plants and plant communities, you have lots of opportunities to act, to protect, and take responsibility for some corner of our flora. Native Plant Stewardship Program Stewards Yossi Schuck and Lisa Griswold practicing their plant ID skills usin...
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210 Hits
Sep
11

Fall: Time to Read and Gather Native Seeds

Summer is slowly slipping away, but what a glorious one we've experienced! If you're a plant propagation enthusiast like me, collecting and sowing native plant seeds are at the top of your fall 'to do' activities. The Central Puget Sound Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society will hold its Fall Native Plant Sale on October 5 at the Hunter Tree Farm lot at 7744 35th Ave. NE in Seattle. The sale is a fabulous way to acquire seeds, as well as plants, bulbs, seed kits, and bare root stock. W...
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203 Hits
Sep
04

Back to School

It's really happening, isn't it? August has ended, September is here. And with September comes that back-to-school combination of mourning (for the summer that's ending) and speeding up (for the autumn activities ahead). Time to learn something new, don't you think? The energizing briskness of fall opens up all kinds of opportunities. In addition to a new season of programs offered by Washington Native Plant Society chapters , here is a six-pack of educational and fun choices around the state. D...
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249 Hits
Jul
03

Comparing Conifers and Deciduous Trees

From the window of my home office, I can look through a grove of loosely-spaced Ponderosa Pines ( Pinus ponderosa ) and into a dense floodplain gallery of Black Cottonwoods ( Populus trichocarpa ) interspersed with a few Mountain Alders ( Alnus incana ). The pines are a stable presence from one season to the next, but in this summer season the deciduous trees seem to throb with life as light and water mingle in a seasonal photosynthetic dance. In just a few short weeks they've created a dense ca...
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661 Hits
Apr
24

Appreciating Native Plant Appreciation Week

Did you have a good Earth Day when it rolled around earlier this week? And what are your plans for Native Plant Appreciation Week when it starts on April 28 th ? ​ What is Native Plant Appreciation Week? The week gives us a springtime opportunity to enjoy our state's amazing flora. We can take a look at all the work that governmental agencies, non-profit groups, and environmental organizations are doing to protect native plant species and restore native plant habitats. We can participate in ever...
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218 Hits

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