Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog

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

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

Starting the Year with Nature

Starting the Year with Nature
I have to admit I was anxious. Although, really, what better way to start a new year than in the woods with a bunch of friendly plant lovers? The New Year's Day walk in Evans Creek Preserve would be followed by lunch at a Mexican restaurant. It sounded like a perfect combination of nature and civilization for a newcomer to the world of native plants. My anxiety stemmed from the fact that this walk would be my first of any length since Thanksgiving. What if there were hills? What if I lagged help...
Continue reading

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

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

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

Send Those Cards and Letters

Send Those Cards and Letters
Long-time readers of Botanical Rambles know how I feel about snail mail . And December is a great month for sending and receiving actual, real, bona fide cards and letters. As my sister Annie says, "Just say yes to the U.S.P.S." Luckily for all of us, the Washington Native Plant Society offers stunning holiday cards that share the magic of Pacific Northwest winters. Each set features 7 images donated by photographer Mark Turner. Note that the images on this page include Mark's colophon, but the ...
Continue reading

Time to Look Ahead: Get Your 2017 WNPS Calendar

Time to Look Ahead: Get Your 2017 WNPS Calendar
The 2017 Washington Native Plant Society calendar, featuring all of this year's photo contest winners, is now available . Be sure to get one—or several! They make great gifts and supplies are limited. Entertaining and educational prose from Ellen Kuhlmann, of the Koma Kulshan chapter, accompanies the lovely photos. The images are generously contributed by Washington Native Plant Society members like you. In fact, the contest for next year's calendar is now open ! The deadline is February 1, 2017...
Continue reading

Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap
​It's November. Days are short, nights are long, and leaves are down. A friend of mine inelegantly calls November "the armpit of the year." And nationally, we have just finished an inelegant presidential campaign. We face the future with a federal administration and Congress that are not likely to support environmental issues or scientific evidence. I've found some relief by taking a virtual hike at Wallula Gap, with a slide show now anchoring the Washington Native Plant Society page at Network ...
Continue reading

Pond Weeds and Their Cousins: A Report from the Aquatic Plants Workshop

Pond Weeds and Their Cousins: A Report from the Aquatic Plants Workshop
By the time I found room 246 in Hitchcock Hall, hidden behind construction barriers on the University of Washington campus, class had already begun. I crossed the room quickly to take a seat on a squeaky metal chair stationed behind a microscope. Peter Zika, a botanist specializing in the obscure, was halfway through a lecture on local aquatic plants. Before I aimed my attention at his slides on the screen, I glanced around at the dozens of plants standing in water-filled jars around the lab. I'...
Continue reading

Twenty ideas for the gift-giving season

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...
Continue reading

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,...
Continue reading

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

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...
Continue reading

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...
Continue reading

Tussling with Tussilago

Tussling with Tussilago
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 EDRR Citizen Scientists . That mouthful stands f...
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