Botanical Rambles

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In the field with Art Kruckeberg

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. The faithful and the newly converted gathered to hear the gospel of serpentine from one of th...
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Our Stinging Nettles

Our Stinging Nettles
Nettles are in a very small family Nettles are in a very small family, Urticaceae, most of whose members have stings. Washington's native nettle is Urtica dioica . Nettle leaves' stinging is accomplished with hollow hairs, like microscopic hypodermic needles, which exude formic acid when brushed against. An irritating rash may appear on one's skin, its severity depending on the sensitivity of the "victim." Some people have red, burning sores for days. Some people say they don't feel a thing! And...
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Maytime

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 ...
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A Cavalcade of Coloring

A Cavalcade of Coloring
In bookstores these days, I see masses of coloring books marketed to adults. People are snapping them up, I understand, for stress relief, for mindfulness, for a creative outlet. This brought to mind a treasure trove of coloring book pages prepared by the late Karl Urban (1943-1999), who was a botanist on the Umatilla National Forest in Oregon. Karl Urban prepared these northwestern United States wildflower illustrations for Celebrating Wildflowers and other educational activities (Celebrating W...
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Big Trees, Big Hearts, and GiveBIG

Big Trees, Big Hearts, and GiveBIG
Give BIG Let's start with GiveBIG . Tuesday, May 3– and now extended through Wednesday, May 4 –is the Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG event. The Foundation sponsors this online giving event to inspire you and others to give generously to nonprofits in our region—and the Foundation stretches your donation by adding money of its own. Make an impact—your spring contribution to the Washington Native Plant Society will be made even more valuable by stre-e-e-tch dollars available from the Seattle Foundat...
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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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The Poetry of Botanical Foolishness

The Poetry of Botanical Foolishness
By a lucky coincidence, April Fools Day always kicks off National Poetry Month . And Botanical Rambles is celebrating this year with a small collection of botanical foolishness. Spring has sprung, and we're getting down to the serious business of the enjoying and learning about Washington's flora during the growing season. Two recent Rambles ( here and here ) provide information on numerous opportunities. But this post celebrates three writers whose botanical foolishness has delighted generation...
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Dates to Remember: Botanical Activities Abound!

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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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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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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Tick Tock

Tick Tock
Just a few more days to finish your end-of-the-year "to do" list! That includes giving native plants a voice by making a tax-deductible gift to the Washington Native Plant Society before the close of 2015. Since 1976 (40 years!) WNPS has been gathering people in community to connect and learn about Washington's flora through study, education, and advocacy. What are your favorite native plant activities? Growing native plants in your garden? Visiting beloved wildflower meadows? Working on hands-o...
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Six Gifts for Plant Lovers

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! 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 forest. The longer you look at it, the more you see! This education projec...
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2016 Washington Native Plant Calendar Now Available

2016 Washington Native Plant Calendar Now Available
Over 3,000 native plants contribute to the biodiversity of Washington. They provide habitat and food for critters of all sizes, including us humans. While you won't find all 3,000-plus in the 2016 Washington Native Plant Calendar , there's an excellent array of images for you to enjoy, for the bargain price of $10 each. Every year, I buy two calendars–one for home and one for my office. At home, the calendar graces our refrigerator and gets marked up with reminders for special and mundane events...
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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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