Seola Pond Project

SeolaPond_aerial_group_fromvideo Volunteers at Seola Pond planting event
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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206 Hits

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...
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694 Hits

Native vs. Nonnative Plants in Pollinator Gardens

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​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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855 Hits

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

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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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376 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...
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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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196 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...
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156 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...
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180 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...
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197 Hits

Plant Profile: Snow Buckwheat (Eriogonum niveum)

Plant Profile: Snow Buckwheat (Eriogonum niveum)
Autumn is coming, and the number of plants still flowering diminishes this time of year. Snow Buckwheat (Eriogonum niveum) is one you can often find in bloom through September in eastern Washington. This plant profile was originally published, in slightly different form, as part of a native plant spotlight series.   Why Choose It? With frosty-green leaves and long-lasting sprays of tiny white to pink flowers, Snow Buckwheat cools the eye in late summer and early fall. Happy on little water,...
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167 Hits

A Great Fall Berry from The Forest: Blue Elderberry

A Great Fall Berry from The Forest: Blue Elderberry
Blue elderberry is one of the great plants of the Pacific Northwest forest. I have found this berry in nearly every county of Washington State. It grows in wet, cool shady areas. It produces great berries that are prized for their flavor by both humans and wildlife. Native people have used it for as a medicinal plant and to make small flutes or whistles from its stems. Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea (formerly Sambucus caerulea ), the scientific name for the blue elderberry, is different from the S...
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137 Hits

Join the Celebration: Native Plant Appreciation Week 2016

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. Take a trip I've been traveling across Washington for work lately, and botanizing from behind the wheel (safely, of course). It's been my pleas...
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138 Hits

Plant Profile: Red-Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

Plant Profile: Red-Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
I have several white-flowered bushes of Ribes sanguineum in my garden, and when they burst into bloom they cause a number of trite similes to come to mind. Their abundance is like a frothy cascade, a bridal veil, a waterfall…you get the idea. My shrubs came from a start supplied to me by Dr. Eugene Kozloff , well-known as a zoologist and author—and less well-known as a chronic plant propagator and generous plant dispenser. They bloom earlier in my garden than the red cultivars, and the hummingbi...
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January 2016 News and Notes from WNPS

January 2016 News and Notes from WNPS
Botanical Rambles wishes you a happy new year and offers you this capacious—but nowhere near exhaustive—list of things to do and learn. Contents Washington Native Plant Society News Kudos! WNPS Chapter News WNPS Chapter Activities Conservation—Opportunity to comment Trainings Volunteer Opportunities Grant Opportunities Plant Sales Washington Native Plant Society News The WNPS Office Welcomes Visitors. Located in Seattle's Magnuson Park, the office is generally staffed Monday–Thursday, 9:00am to ...
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146 Hits

Winter Berries for the Birds

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. Highbush Cranberry in the Garden Many years ago, I planted half a ...
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159 Hits

Vine Maple Variations

Vine Maple Variations
The vine maple ( Acer circinatum )—what's not to like? Well, if you don't like something about one vine maple, look again, a second one may give you what you want. Don't like the color? Try the one down the street. Too big? Too small? Too short? Too tall? You don't have to be Goldilocks to find the A. circinatum just right for you! General Characteristics Before talking about the differences, let's describe the characteristics that apply to all vine maples and help us identify the species. Eithe...
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148 Hits

Principles of Kick-butt Gardening

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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130 Hits

Coevolution and Pollination

Coevolution and Pollination
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 between these distantly related taxa is symbiotic...
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173 Hits

When in Drought…

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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144 Hits

Fires of Summer

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. Firewise As Steve McConnell, regional WSU extension forestry specialist wrote in Forest Stewardship Notes : Fires are a fact of life in eastern Washington. For those of us living in forested areas it's ...
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131 Hits

Got Milkweed?

Got Milkweed?
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) and partners are attempting to reverse the downward popu...
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136 Hits

Don’t Leaf Me This Way!

Don’t Leaf Me This Way!
Editor's Note: In Botanical Rambles' previous two autumns, we've looked at Washington's most colorful fall leaves and at the fall color of berries and beach plants. This year, Jamie Bails invites us to take another look at the value of fall leaves. A few years ago, after watching my neighbor rake and bag fallen cherry leaves, I asked him if I could save him a trip to the dump. He hesitatingly agreed, and I quickly loaded up eight lawn bags into my wheelbarrow before he changed his mind. I giddil...
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133 Hits

How About A Hedgerow?

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. 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 trunk and laid over, each one crossing the next—...
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142 Hits

How Much is that Tree Worth to You?

How Much is that Tree Worth to You?
It's fall, and perhaps your thoughts are turning to leaves. Leaves turning color, leaves falling to the ground, leaves covering the lawn, leaves clogging the storm drain, leaves piling up, leaves rotting. Even evergreen trees shed leaves and branches this time of year, whether part of their cycle of senescence or because a windy day scatters them about. Some days all these leaves can seem a nuisance, even to a plant-loving person such as myself. However, the good folks at the Washington State Ur...
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154 Hits

Pollination: A Sampler

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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144 Hits

Visit Kruckeberg Botanic Garden This Summer

Visit Kruckeberg Botanic Garden This Summer
If you have not been to the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden in Shoreline lately, this summer is a great time to visit. Along with public tours and family events each weekend, the on-site MSK Nursery offers native plants propagated directly from the garden. Admission to the garden is free, but donations are accepted and memberships are encouraged. ​ The public botanic garden is now part of the city of Shoreline's park system, and it is managed by the non-profit Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Foundation. The...
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142 Hits

Three Wild Strawberries of the Pacific Northwest

Three Wild Strawberries of the Pacific Northwest
The bloom of strawberries is a sure sign that summer is just around the corner. The Pacific Northwest is fortunate to have three delectable varieties of wild strawberry. Beach strawberry ( Fragaria chiloensis ) can be found along the upper edges of beaches on Washington and Oregon coasts. The leaves are thick and leathery compared to those of other wild strawberries of the Pacific Northwest. The other two strawberries in the region are usually found from the interior valleys west of the Cascades...
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136 Hits

Beyond Grass

Beyond Grass
I had a grand time at the Native Plant Sale and Celebration on May 3 rd , sponsored by the Central Puget Sound Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society. I got to wear a green vest and walk around providing color commentary for people who were shopping. People most often requested plants for these situations: Ground covers for a place where they were replacing the lawn or where they'd pulled out ivy Plants for dry shade under big trees or roof eaves. These conversations brought to mind an a...
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146 Hits

Appreciating Common Camas (Camassia quamash) during Native Plant Appreciation Week

Appreciating Common Camas (Camassia quamash) during Native Plant Appreciation Week
And we're off! Native Plant Appreciation Week began with a rousing start for me! While botanizing at 60 mph isn't ideal, I love to glimpse the blue of one of my favorite plants, common camas ( Camassia quamash ), along Interstate 5 between Tacoma and Olympia during my weekly trek. The week is full of field trips, programs, plant sales and a couple of garden tours. For more information, see the full Native Plant Appreciation Week listings. Opportunities coming up include: Field trips to Juniper D...
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203 Hits

April is the Cruellest Month…

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). I think that I shall never see / A poem ...
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145 Hits

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