Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog
Apr
25

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. Poster for 2016 Native Plant Appreciation Week. Photo by Ted Alway Klickitat Canyon Lomatium spp. April 2016Photo by Sarah Gage Take a trip I'v...
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Mar
30

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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Mar
14

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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Feb
24

Plant Profile: Red-Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

White cultivar of red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum). Photo by Sarah Gage. 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 dis...
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Jan
25

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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Jan
01

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. Specimen of Viburnum edule from the University of Washington Herba...
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Dec
29

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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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...
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Nov
22

2016 Washington Native Plant Calendar Now Available

Cover of the 2016 Washington Native Plant Society Calendar: Western Larch (Larix occidentalis) and Alpine Larch (Larix lyallii) at Mount StuartPhoto by Ray Izumi 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 bu...
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Nov
08

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! Unpruned vine maple beginning to show fall color. Photo by John Neorr General Characteristics Before talking about the differences, let's describe the characteristics...
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Oct
21

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 Community stewardship at Interlaken Park, Seattle. Photographer: Rick Thompson, all ri...
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Oct
13

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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Aug
29

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." Tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)“Petals are Poison”Photo by John Neorr 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 p...
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Aug
21

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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Aug
12

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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