Yakima Area Arboretum Garden Tour

A few more pictures from a thoroughly enjoyable garden tour, sponsored by the Arboretum. A wide range of garden styles, sizes and ages were represented. One garden, in particular, filled a luxurious five acres with beds of full sun to full shade perennials, on slopes and flat areas, two very large ponds, and a unique tree house. Another garden filled almost two acres with roses, clematis, anemone, and “annual” geraniums almost six feet in height (over-wintered in an ample greenhouse).

This garden tour is held yearly in June – missing the past 2 years due to Covid – and is a beloved and well-attended event. We plan to attend again next year, and I hope you will, as well.

Owner-built tree house.

Largest Sambucus nigra, Black lace, I’ve ever seen.

This is the only variegated Ginkgo I’ve seen. Didn’t know this plant existed.

A spectacular tri-color Beech, Fagus sylvatica.

Wishing you good gardening, fine weather, and enjoyment in all you do.

A Treasure of Trees

Yakima, Washington, is home to an exceptional and surprising treasure – the Yakima Area Arboretum. I first learned of this beautiful and educational arboretum in 1976 from a co-worker, with my first visit coming in early 1977. Having only experienced arboretums in Seattle, Oregon and western Canada before this, I admit that I was a little underwhelmed at the small stature of many of the trees. Young trees, to be sure. But over the years as Bill and I have visited the arboretum (and become members), we are continually surprised and impressed with its growth, both in stature and in variety.

Home to a fantastic collection of oaks, nut-bearing trees, and stunning maples, you will find that almost all specimens are labeled, and planted with enough space to fully stretch out their canopy. The arboretum fills 46 acres with maintained lawns, perennial beds of both native and introduced plants, a Japanese-style garden, rose garden, large pond, as well as offering spaces of deep shade and full sun. The Yakima River trail (Yakima Greenway) will take you to the arboretum if you want a long, scenic walk but also offers a good-sized parking lot for those arriving by vehicle. Bill and I took the Greenway trail from our hotel to the arboretum and spent a memorable 3+ hours on a warm Sunday morning visiting as much of the grounds as time allowed. A truly memorable way to start a day.

Below are a few pictures of this quiet, lovely place. I hope you will be inspired to visit this large, welcoming arboretum.

Nice gift shop in the visitor’s center.
Fossilized ginkgo with sedum.
Into the Japanese garden.
Fed by a small waterfall.
In one of the perennial gardens.
Path into the Oak grove.
I love this bark.
Bill examining leaves.
Pinyon Pine! Really!
And its cones.
Proximity to the Yakima River supports this willow.
An expanse of beauty.
And homes for birds.
Ginkgo biloba.

Wishing you sunny days, deep shade, and time enough to enjoy it all.

Canyon Road, Yakima, WA

It’s been a while since I posted an article. Spring is overly busy here – including fighting allergies and building energy – and time to write sometimes needs to be put aside. In addition, recently we took a long weekend to the town where Bill and I met. In Yakima (central Washington) we met many years ago while attending college, and began our careers in healthcare. The hospital I worked in is long closed but the hospital Bill worked in remains, and has expanded in space, facilities, and offerings.

The drive from Seattle to Yakima can be a routine freeway affair with not much out of the ordinary to see. However, there is an 25 mile-long optional route between Ellensburg and Yakima that, in my opinion, offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the state of Washington. The Yakima River Canyon Road (mostly just called Canyon Road) cuts through a basalt landscape that offers cliffs up to 2,000 feet in height, rolling desert hills, magnificent Ponderosa Pines, and a sparse covering of rare native plants. The occasional Philadelphus, Sambucus and lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus, I think) share ample space with sagebrush and grasses. Wildlife includes hawks, eagles, osprey, falcons, beavers, and many other animals. We have taken this road many times and see something new each time. This road does not allow trucks, and those who drive this two-lane, twisting route are free to travel slowly to take in the surroundings or to pull off the road when space allows to take in this breath-taking, unique beauty.

Below are a few pictures that, I hope, will give you an idea of what this immense and ancient landscape offers.

When the clouds part, brilliant blue sky appears.
I walked up a hill a short way. Dry, dry, dry!
Cloud shadows on the hills.

To learn more about the Canyon Road, visit this link: https://www.blm.gov/visit/yakima-river-canyon

Wishing you safe travels, blue skies, and air conditioning!

Who are we?

Who are we? Have we changed since the last mass shooting? Are we different from the last time we heard someone insult, belittle, or mock another? Have we been changed since the last child was murdered – by gun, by neglect, by stranger or parent or relative? Since the last bystander was murdered? Have we grown kinder, colder, more compassionate or more distant? Have our hearts been broken so many times that healing is impossible? Have our hearts grown numb? Or, were they always numb?

Who are we? So many words spoken that say, ultimately, the same thing. Over and over, again and again – the same thing. Who are we to allow children to be murdered? To allow innocent people to be murdered? In a school. In a church. In a grocery store. In a parking lot. On a playground. Who are we?

Who are we to allow anyone who wants one – anyone! – to own an assault rifle? Why? Who are we to allow this country to have more guns than people? A country with more guns than people. More guns than human beings.

Maybe a better question is this: what are we?

South Sound Prairies, Western Washington Grasslands

A small area in Thurston County, western Washington, contains a treasure – a native grassland prairie. This region, maintained by many volunteers and the Center for Natural Lands Management, is being meticulously restored through prescribed burnings, planting native plants, weeding, and careful soil management. And, it is open to visitors one day each year. (A short distance away is the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve – another beautiful prairie landscape, open year-round.)

This year all things came together for us to visit this unique part of Washington state. The following pictures will give you an idea of the immense natural beauty – and importance – of a prairie landscape. To learn more about this area and the work being done to restore prairie lands, use this site: http://www.prairieappreciationday.org

Castilleja levisecta, Golden Paintbrush. A very rare prairie plant that we were lucky to see.
Camassia quamash as far as the eye can see. The landscape consists of mounds.
Desert parsley, Lomatium utriculatum

Correction: this is Collinsia parviflora
Balsam root or Arrowleaf, Balsamorhiza sagittata
A very blurry Fritillaria affinis, Chocolate lily. And a very windy day!
Cladina mitia, Costal reindeer lichen
Camas.
The cause of the mounds is unknown, but at this time scientists are certain that the mounds were not caused by glacial action – or giant, prehistoric gophers.
Viola sempervirens
The last of Dodecatheon pulchellum for the season. This bulb blooms early in spring. We were lucky to see it.
The prairie in all its beauty.

I hope that these pictures spike your interest in learning about our vanishing, rare, and valuable American prairies. Be sure to click on the link I provided above for additional information, and a short video provided by the Center for Natural Lands Management.

And, as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Walking Towards

So this is what it means: no time like the present – do it now before you change your mind – if you stand still you’ll freeze – no time to waste. There is wisdom in each saying far beyond the obvious; available to anyone willing to think for more than a moment. Of course we know that “everything changes”; after all, change defines life on this planet, and I assume it defines all life no matter where it is found. Change for good or ill, for progress or regress, enjoyable or unpleasant. Walk towards change and savor all it brings – no matter how difficult.

These thoughts came to me as I ventured out for a long walk the other day. A beautiful (though chilly) spring morning was a good time for considering options. Very few people out, although I did encounter a friend/fellow walker and we talked for a few minutes; otherwise, a quiet time good for thinking.

And this is what I saw:

Magnolia – M. soulangeana, I think.
New tulips coming on as the old fade.
Aubrieta, Rock Cress. I love this blast of color.
Cornus florida
Magnolia grandiflora – one of the most beautiful trees on my walking route.
A young little Pinus mugo
Coming out of hibernation – the dinosaurs of summer are waking up!

No matter what comes your way, keep moving forward. After all, there is something beautiful in every moment – sometimes it just takes time to find it.

Peace.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Bill and I recently returned from a few days at one of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the west coast – Cannon Beach in Oregon. I’ve been coming to this charming little town since 1998 when a close friend recommended the town to me. Her family has a summer cabin here (built in the 1940’s by her father) – and we have managed to take several short vacations here since my son was 4 years old. I’ve watched the town change from a quiet, low-key, family oriented town to a high-end, expensive destination with many absurdly-priced accommodations. But, just a few blocks away from the main street (Hemlock) you will find old, weathered treasures – houses built around the time of my friends’ family vacation home – and rented in the off-season for very reasonable prices. These are the types of places we stay in while visiting.

While we spend most of our time on the beach, we always take at least half a day to walk through the surrounding forest and Cannon Beach’s interesting Nature Walk Trail, which ends at Ecola Creek Park. I never pass up an opportunity to spend time in a forest, even when filled with the “fragrance” of western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), especially pungent when blended with blooming Salix, Sambucus, and the fiddleheads of Polystichum.

The following are just a few examples of the beauty of this area. If you haven’t visited Cannon Beach, don’t be put-off by the expense and “must-see destination” ambience of the town. Instead, search out the old, weathered, authentic treasures this place has to offer – you will be amazed at its beauty. (And, as always, many pictures are taken while on-the-move so they may be a little blurry. I appreciate your patience with my lack of photography skills!)

A blurry Mt. Rainier as seen from I-5, at 65 mph.
From the street to the beach!
Haystack Rock in the distance.
Home to countless birds, and the occasional eagle who comes by to raid nests.
Tide pools are finally closed to walkers.
More seastacks.
Due to intense wave-action, a very clean beach.
On the Nature Trail – equisteum as far as the eye can see. I love this plant!
Skunk Cabbage in full bloom.
Native wild ginger and a fiddle-head.
Beach grass – sunlight on raindrops on a windy day.
Rain one minute – clearing the next.
Beautiful ending to beautiful days.

Our drive home runs through small towns in the southwest region of Washington – South Bend, Raymond, Pe Ell, and other tiny settlements. As always, a stop at our favorite cafĂ© in South Bend is a must.

Good tea and coffee served here.
So they say. . .
From the car – Willapa Hills lowlands on the way home. Highway 6 is a welcome change from I-5.

This shot embodies all that Cannon Beach means to me and my family. A visit to this lovely town – any time of year – will become a favorite travel memory.

Here’s to good weather, fun hiking, and great coffee to fuel the road!

“I’m not dead yet!”

It’s been a long, trying few weeks but the worst is over (referring to post of March 21). All test results were either negative or low-normal, and that’s a pretty good sign. Although I’m not seeing much improvement yet, I anticipate it coming soon. And, as Monty Python succinctly stated, “I’m not dead yet!”

In the meantime, I’ve been walking and gardening as much as energy allows. This is the season of voluptous cherry blossoms, magnificent magnolias, and cheerful daffodils. Brilliant colors stand out on early spring days and make a timid blue sky bold and bright. Surrounded with gaudy color – yellows, purples, pinks – it’s difficult to look away. But one color, in particular, brings us down to earth with a forcefully quiet presence. White flowering plants – the color of many straight species’ flowers – brings a boisterous spring garden down-to-earth. It is the perfect backdrop for an intense spring display.

Two of my favorite white-blooming trees are Amelanchier and Magnolia stellata. Along my walking routes, the city of Seattle has planted many Serviceberry trees (Amelanchier species) and they are in full, glorious bloom right now. The flowers don’t last long, but the bud and early leaf stages are almost as beautiful. I’ve eaten the berries when I can get to them before birds and they are almost tasty. But the reason I grow this gorgeous, small tree is for the flowers.

Amelanchier in full, glorious bloom.
Its canopy is open and graceful.
Outshining pink and blue. Amelanchier’s early leaves have a copper-reddish tint that creates a perfect back-drop for the flowers.

The other tree I mentioned, Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) is my favorite magnolia. Much smaller than M. grandiflora or other huge magnolias and a perfect addition to smaller gardens, its flowers are gracefully shaped and classically beautiful.

Gorgeous little tree!

Either tree – or both! – are elegant, easy-care plants that enhance a landscape as well as any flowering cherry or plum tree.

I wish you good health, clear skies, and easy gardening.

No Variations on this Theme

I was thinking about my dad’s phrase – “Don’t worry, it always gets better” while listening to my doctor last week. I’ve held that phrase, and dad’s tone of voice, in my mind for most of my life. In fact, I can’t remember any difficult times when his voice and that phrase were absent. But as I was saying, I was listening to my doctor explain why she needed to refer me to a specialist for more testing. For the past six months, I’ve been dealing with unusual fatigue, slight headaches and intermittent upset stomach throughout each day, and a few unusual bruises here and there in places I don’t remember bumping (although gardening creates lots of forgettable accidents). Swollen glands in my neck have been present, as well. So, my dad’s voice came to mind immediately when she mentioned a few cancers that these symptoms may indicate. “Nope, not that”, I thought to myself. I was hoping to hear something like “It’s probably a long-lived, undefined virus that will fade as mysteriously as it appeared”. I’m still hoping to hear that because, if for no other reason, it will prove my dad right – again!

The weekend that just ended was beautiful. Our son and his traveling companion, Beems the Cat, spent the weekend with us and we had good visits around his work schedule. Feeling refreshed and optimistic this morning after their visit, I went out for a long walk. The calendar finally agrees with meteorological spring and we see some beautiful colors. With such beauty around me, and such beautiful people in my life, there is no way I can feel anything other than hopeful.

I will take some time off from writing because I need to rest up (and get rid of this damn headache!). I anticipate hearing good news but if not, I will face the demon head-on, push my glasses up with my middle finger, and say “Nope, not yet. I have too much to do.”

In the meantime, here are a few variations on spring pink I encountered this morning.

Magnolia stellata, pink form of Star Magnolia.
Rhododendron PJM
Ribes sanguineum, Red Flowering currant.
A gorgeous Prunus, flowering cherry.
Erica carnea, probably ‘Springwood Pink’, with Mahonia in the background.
And at home, another favorite plant: Kalmiopsis leachiana, Umpqua Form. I’m proud to say that all four of my Kalmiopsis are finally thriving!

I wish you a spring full of beauty, fun, and good days.