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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Stewardship Training Opportunity in Everett

Stewardship Training Opportunity in Everett
Newsflash: New Dates for Training The training has been re-scheduled for November 12 through December 3. Fall is always a great time to learn something new. While the Washington Native Plant Society isn't currently offering its Native Plant Stewardship Program , here's a training opportunity from one of our partners that you might find interesting. National Wildlife Federation Habitat Stewards Training Program The National Wildlife Federation is offering a Habitat Stewards Training in Everett st...
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Plant Adaptations and Fire

Plant Adaptations and Fire
Editor's Note: Massive wildfires in Washington State may cause us to see some plants as "gasoline on a stick" (bitterbrush or Purshia tridentata) or as "grassoline" (cheatgrass or Bromus tectorum). But fire is a natural part of many ecosystems, and some plants have developed characteristics that allow them to survive, even thrive, after a fire. In this Botanical Ramble, Ellen Kuhlmann guides us through some of these adaptations. –S.G. Four Fire-Adaptive Traits in Plants Bark thickness This is on...
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Tansy, I Never Knew Thee

Tansy, I Never Knew Thee
When I first got the idea to write this article, I was going to title it "Bad Tansy, Good Tansy." However, once I studied up on tansy ragwort ( Senecio jacobaea ) and common tansy ( Tanacetum vulgare ), I realized the title should be more like: "Bad Tansy and Not Quite as Bad Tansy." Every year around late summer, I have noticed in local ditches and in open fields, clumps of tall plants with pretty yellow flowers growing in profusion. I gathered from overheard conversations that these flowers we...
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Our House Almost Burned Down

Our House Almost Burned Down
Editor's note: The dry, hot, droughty summer of 2015 has brought heartbreaking deaths of firefighters near Twisp and stubborn wildfires throughout the state. It's timely to hear from someone who lived through a fire last summer. Ken Bevis is a Wildlife Biologist with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. This piece is excerpted from the Small Forest Landowner News of September 3, 2014. On Friday, August 1, 2014 at approximately 1:30 pm, a trailer got a flat tire on Highway 153 ne...
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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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The Invasion of Lake Joy

The Invasion of Lake Joy
Lake Joy Lake Joy is a community of single family homes and summer cabins nestled halfway between the towns of Carnation and Duvall in western Washington State. Bald eagles, great blue herons, kingfishers, river otters, deer, black bears, the occasional cougar, bats, and owls live here. Many migratory waterfowl come through in the fall and spring. Red and orange sunsets make way for starlit nights. The lake calls you to explore its calm, clear waters in kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards, and it i...
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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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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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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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Just Because It’s June, June, June: News and Notes from the Washington Native Plant Society

Just Because It’s June, June, June: News and Notes from the Washington Native Plant Society
Where Have You Been Rambling?  You may be forgiven for wondering if Botanical Rambles had rambled off in to the sunset, considering that the most recent post was May 6 th ! Your humble blog curator has been overly busy with her day job, notably helping to organize the 2015 Salmon Recovery Conference and then (trying) to catch up on many end-of-biennium tasks. It hasn't been all work. I introduced an out-of-town visitor to the pleasures of the loop road at Washington Park in Anacortes . She ...
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