Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog
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...
  182 Hits
182 Hits
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 ...
  399 Hits
399 Hits
Nov
29

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...
  354 Hits
354 Hits
Apr
17

Goodbye Koz

Seashore Life of the North Pacific Coast by Eugene N. 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 ...
  256 Hits
256 Hits
Dec
04

Twenty ideas for the gift-giving season

Whether you love it or hate it, the gift-giving season is here. And the Washington Native Plant Society is here to help. You can give your sweetheart, pal, family member, friend, co-worker, spouse, in-law, or even yourself, one of these fine WNPS-themed gifts: 1. A WNPS membership and all the stuff that it includes: the quarterly journal, Douglasia , chapter newsletters, programs, field trips, and much more. It's easy to sign up online and there are membership categories for any budget. 2. The W...
  207 Hits
207 Hits
May
13

Maytime

Maytime is… A completely over-the-top movie musical from 1937, starring Jeanette Macdonald and Nelson Eddy A single, deep red Paeonia hybrid with golden stamens A time when plant lovers in the northern hemisphere shift into high gear All of the above And the correct answer is 4–all of the above! Here are several items for your consideration during this blooming busy time: More color Invasive procedures What do you want to learn? More color I hope you enjoyed the Celebrating Wildflowers coloring ...
  235 Hits
235 Hits
Dec
06

Six Gifts for Plant Lovers

Hanukkah is upon us. Christmas and Kwanzaa are coming up. And New Year's will follow. Which means…ample opportunities to give gifts to those we love and to those who do so much for us throughout the year. What gifts will you give this year? Hey, I have a half dozen ideas for you! Native Plants of Fort Townsend Mural by Larry Eifert, all rights reserved. Larry Eifert's mural at Fort Townsend State Park has been turned into a 500-piece jig-saw puzzle . The mural shows flora and fauna of old-growth...
  198 Hits
198 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...
  220 Hits
220 Hits
Mar
05

A note from Dick Olmstead, Professor and Herbarium Curator, University of Washington

Friends and Colleagues, As many of you know, Hitchcock and Cronquist's "Flora of the Pacific Northwest" has been the authoritative guide to the region's flora since its publication in 1973. Generations of students, academic researchers, and field botanists have relied on this work to support their diverse botanical interests. However, the systematics, nomenclature, and distribution of our region's flora has changed over the course of 40 years due to ongoing research, access to more information, ...
  240 Hits
240 Hits
Jan
24

Book Review: Pacific Northwest Foraging

Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts by Douglas Deur, published in 2014 by Timber Press . Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts A good berry book is berry hard to find, and berries have been berry berry good to me, but berry books, not always quite so. In my ongoing "lite...
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195 Hits
Jan
06

Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter

Editor's Note: This Botanical Ramble comes to us from Jim Freed, WSU Extension Forest Products Specialist. It was originally posted on February 17, 2014 on Forest Stewardship Notes, a joint effort by Washington State University Extension and the DNR Small Forest Landowner Office. In the winter, identifying woody plants (trees and shrubs) takes a bit more work. Since there are no leaves on the deciduous plant, you will need to know what the twigs, buds, bud scales, and bark look like. Quick ways ...
  198 Hits
198 Hits
May
20

Hitchcock Springs Eternal—Especially in the Spring

Flora of the Pacific Northwest, aka “Hitchcock” Perhaps you, like me, are panting a bit from all your spring-season activities. A plant sale here, a volunteer activity there, an evening walk in the Mima Mounds, a couple of marathon gardening sessions, and voila! I'm ready to lie down in the shade of a big tree and have a glass of lemonade. So, my hat is off to the stalwarts who participated in Botany Washington 2014 on May 17–18. A capacity crowd signed up to enjoy the floristic splendors of the...
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202 Hits
Jan
28

Top Ten Discussions on Botanical Rambles—2013

Before January splits the scene, I want to thank you for rambling along with me here on the Washington Native Plant Society blog in 2013. I enjoyed curating the blog last year, and I've signed up to continue for 2014. A special thanks to you subscribers out there—over 130 of you!—who receive Botanical Rambles in your inbox. If you'd like to subscribe, click on the link in the right-hand sidebar. What would you like to read about on the blog this year? Would you like to contribute a post? Please ...
  176 Hits
176 Hits
Dec
31

Revisiting Resolutions, 2014 edition

Well, 2014 has launched. How about those resolutions I made so publicly last year? Last January I noted some blooming resolutions for 2013. I had typical results on my general resolutions. Eat fewer sweets (Fail! If anything, I ate more sweets in 2013, since I discovered dark chocolate M&Ms.) Get more exercise (Actually, I did pretty well on this one.) Be an all-round better person (Probably not for me to say. I don't think I became a worse person. Let's call this one a draw.) I definitely d...
  188 Hits
188 Hits
Sep
24

Weighing in on Northwest Plant Books

In early July I was hiking on Sauk Mountain near Rockport in a meadow full of wildflowers and was dismayed to find that I couldn't remember the names of some common plants. I wasn't carrying a plant list or a book. Once home I rummaged through my book collection trying to figure out which I should put on the top of my "must take" hiking pile. My bookcase yielded roughly 14 "general" Pacific Northwest plant books, excluding ethnobotany books and hiking guides that comment on wildflowers but aren'...
  198 Hits
198 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...
  203 Hits
203 Hits
Aug
28

Botanico-Literary Question Marks III: Three Minor Botherations

Groombridge Place One: The Kiss In Anton Chekov's short story "The Kiss" he describes the scene at a manor house in the country: "Everyone was conscious of the fragrance of roses, of lilac, and of the young leaves of the poplar." And: "Here, as in the drawing room, the windows were open wide and the smell of poplars, lilacs, and roses flooded the air." Phenologically speaking, I was troubled by the idea of poplar leaves (April?) unfurling at the same time as blooming lilacs (May?) and flowering ...
  150 Hits
150 Hits
Aug
07

Botanico-Literary Question Mark II: Ivy on the Islands?

My nephew recently graduated from high school, and the speaker at his commencement was the novelist David Guterson. He gave what I thought was a fascinating, intricately reasoned speech on how to live a happy life in the face of the existential dilemma we all face. It didn't go over very well with some members of the audience (see the articles about it in the Seattle Times and Crosscut . The text of the talk is on the blog of The Stranger ). But the high school students were mostly very polite, ...
  240 Hits
240 Hits
Jul
24

Botanico-Literary Question Marks I: Oaks in Peshastin?

Does this ever happen to you? You're reading along, and something botanical leaps out at you as Not-Quite-Right. It stays there, worrying you like a raspberry seed nestled up to a molar. Here is a literary botanical muddle that created a twinge during an otherwise enjoyable read. I recently read the best-selling novel The Orchardist , by Amanda Coplin. It tells the story of William Talmadge, who grows apples and apricots at the turn of the twentieth century near Peshastin and Cashmere, in the up...
  154 Hits
154 Hits
Jul
17

Watch Out for Watchable Wildflowers

Here's some good news. An excellent, but out-of-print, guide to wildflowers in the Columbia Basin is now available online as a pdf, thanks to the Bureau of Land Management. Watchable Wildflowers — A Columbia Basin Guide features great writing and great photos. Here's how it opens: Eastern Washington—Flat, Drab, & Dry, Right? Wrong! From the freeway, the eastern half of the state may appear an endless open space to speed through without stopping, rather than a destination. As you look out the...
  216 Hits
216 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...
  661 Hits
661 Hits
Jun
19

Anticipating the David Douglas Exhibit

Scottish Botanist and NW explorer, David Douglas. Curtis’ Botanical Magazine. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. I was looking for something in the Summer 2013 edition of Douglasia , the quarterly journal of the Washington Native Plant Society, and I found something else. On page 2, I saw a quarter page ad for David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work , a museum exhibit at MAC, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture , in Spokane. The museum website teased my interest with this paragraph: Naturalis...
  180 Hits
180 Hits
Dec
25

Four Things the Washington Natural Heritage Program Does for You

How much do you know about the Washington Natural Heritage Program? I'm always interested in learning more about the good work being done by plant-oriented folks. The Washington Native Plant Society partners with and benefits from key work carried out by the Washington Natural Heritage Program, housed in the Department of Natural Resources. Joe Arnett, Rare Plant Botanist for the Washington Natural Heritage Program, explains four of the top functions of the program. The Washington Natural Herita...
  194 Hits
194 Hits

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