Four Favorite Native Plant Fragrances

Four Favorite Native Plant Fragrances
Several native plant fragrances help me mark the seasons each year. I'm sure you have favorites of your own. Here are four that I like to sniff out: Black cottonwood ( Populus trichocarpa ) This tall deciduous tree leafs out stickily in the spring, its buds and new leaves covered with a yellowish gum. I learned from Pojar and Mackinnon* that bees use the aromatic resin to protect and seal their hives. Certainly it can be a gummy mess if you get it on your hands, in your hair, or on your hiking g...
Continue reading

Spring at Washington Park, Anacortes

Spring at Washington Park, Anacortes
Susan Alaynick, chairperson of the Salal Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, offers this personal look at spring flowers in Washington Park, Anacortes . The Salal Chapter serves Skagit, Island, and Northern Snohomish counties. Washington Park is an Anacortes city park lying on the west edge of Fidalgo Island. If you keep heading west past the San Juan Islands ferry terminal, you'll get there. And here's a trail map for when you do. This walk was my first exposure to the Native Plant ...
Continue reading

Getting Acquainted with Lichens

Getting Acquainted with Lichens
Learning about lichens is fun and adds a new dimension to your time outdoors. But what is a lichen? And how is it different from a moss? To a biologist, the answer is simple: a moss is a plant and a lichen is a partnership between a fungus and algae or cyanobacteria (formerly known as blue-green algae). But that may not help you, since you won't see the algae or cyanobacteria with your naked eye. So here is a general rule of thumb: Mosses are often grass green and lichens are every other shade o...
Continue reading

Botany in the Movies, 2012

Botany in the Movies, 2012
February is movie month, as we count down to the Oscars on Sunday, February 24 th . While this topic is only tangentially related to Washington's native plants, please indulge me. After Chris Cooper won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as orchid hunter John Larroche in Adaptation in 2002, I was hopeful that we were on the cusp of a time of botanical greatness in film. However, it's been a slow couple of years for botany and botanists in the movies. I didn't see 2011's Unknown , with Liam Nees...
Continue reading

For Sale: Bare Roots and Live Stakes

For Sale: Bare Roots and Live Stakes
While it's still too early in the year for most native plant sales , there's one type of sale that is already underway. And that is the conservation district bare root plant sale. As a lifelong city girl, I never really knew what a conservation district was until I worked for the late Washington Biodiversity Council . Then I learned that conservation districts grew out of the Depression-era dust bowl troubles, as a way for the government to help farmers and others manage their land better. Nowad...
Continue reading

Plant Profile: Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta var. californica)

Plant Profile: Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta var. californica)
I don't know about you, but this is the time of year I start getting antsy for hints that spring is on the way. Which brings us to one of my favorite plants, beaked hazelnut. As Art Kruckeberg notes: "Hazel initiates the rites of spring hereabouts and will be a special omen for those who watch for signs of yearly rebirth." Why it's choice: Two seasons of gold pour forth from the humble hazelnut. In gray mid-winter, yellow male catkins dangle from bare stems and illuminate the landscape. If you l...
Continue reading

Ten Ways to Connect Kids with Native Plants

Ten Ways to Connect Kids with Native Plants
What are your earliest childhood memories of native habitats, plants, and animals? I loved a secret hideout behind a cluster of evergreens in our backyard in New York, where I dug in the dirt and collected prickly chestnut burs. My husband Dave remembers long hours of wandering the woods behind his house in Illinois. My botanist friend Julie walked with her grandmother, who taught her many of western Oregon's natives. Most of us have a unique experience that stands out in our memory. I suspect t...
Continue reading

Destinations: Cowiche Canyon, Yakima Area

Destinations: Cowiche Canyon, Yakima Area
Brenda Senturia encourages us to look ahead to the flowering time of the year in Cowiche Canyon near Yakima. The Washington Trails Association website offers additional information on hiking Cowiche Canyon , including recent trip reports. It's not too soon to think about spring wildflowers, especially in the lower elevations in eastern Washington. A well-known location for a remarkable variety of spring blooms is Cowiche Canyon. This canyon has been preserved by the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy . ...
Continue reading

Blooming Resolutions

Blooming Resolutions
It's the New Year. Resolution time, yet again. What do you do about resolutions? Make 'em, keep 'em, love 'em, hate 'em, break 'em, or ignore the whole thing? I like making resolutions so much that I do it several times a year: New Year's Day, Chinese New Year (it's February 10 in 2013), April Fool's Day, my birthday, Rosh Hashanah i.e., Jewish New Year (it's September 4 in 2013). Sometimes I even re-up my good intentions on the spring and autumn equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices. So...
Continue reading

Four Things the Washington Natural Heritage Program Does for You

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...
Continue reading

My weed odyssey

My weed odyssey
For the past few years, I've been battling English ivy (Hedera helix) in my yard, where it was planted along fences and in rockeries many decades ago . It is so massive that I use a pruning saw to cut through roots but even so, sadly, I am losing the war. Ivy has also taken over the forest understory on community land where my husband and I have a cabin in northeast SnohomishCounty. My ivy skirmishes have made me worry about the inadvertent introduction of other invasive plants that crowd out ou...
Continue reading

Mountain Hemlock for Lowland Gardens

Mountain Hemlock for Lowland Gardens
In December, it's traditional to appreciate the evergreen conifers around us—their green needles, fragrance, and decorative cones. Many of us bring them into our homes as trees and boughs, or hang swags and wreathes on the door. Out in the garden, this is a good time to take stock of how they are faring, without the distractions of all the other foliage. Here is an appreciation of the Mountain Hemlock in the garden, written by Cindy Spurgeon for the Seattle Times (where you can still see it here...
Continue reading

Destinations: Winter Walks at McCormick Forest Park, Gig Harbor

Destinations: Winter Walks at McCormick Forest Park, Gig Harbor
This week we begin a frequent feature of Botanical Rambles: interesting destinations for the botanically inclined. Please welcome Cyndy Dillon, chair of the South Sound Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, who has written this post. I get to appreciate the seasonal cycle of change in the lush native flora since I live within a few miles of McCormick Forest Park in Gig Harbor, and I can return often to visit. Last winter, 2011, was particularly illuminating. The season started with mil...
Continue reading

The Washington Native Plant Stewardship Program: Growing Our Success

The Washington Native Plant Stewardship Program: Growing Our Success
One of WNPS's key programs in the Puget Sound area is the Native Plant Stewardship Program. Gary Smith, chair of the Stewardship Program, tells us about what's happening, and what might be next. Native Plant Stewardship Program—by the numbers Year the program started: 1996 Counties served: 3 (King, Snohomish, Pierce) Number of stewards trained: 512 Number of steward volunteer hours: 118,000 What do these numbers mean? Since 1996, the Central Puget Sound Chapter's Native Plant Stewardship Program...
Continue reading

Plant Profile: Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)

Plant Profile: Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)
Thanks to everyone who read last week's blog post, and a special thanks to those of you who commented on your own experiences with Washington's fall color and especially for sharing some great photos! 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. We're having a great show of fall color in 2012, but vine maple steps up with bright-tinted leaves even in the dullest autumn. Wh...
Continue reading

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