Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Dragonfly on Friday

Not a very creative title, but it seems like everyone else has been posting pictures of dragonflies lately and I finally had the opportunity to snag one of my own. The 'Lucifer' crocosmia, which are flowering at least two to three weeks earlier than usual, make a more photogenic perch than the fence around the former vegetable garden turned pot ghetto.

Thus concludes my week of lazy, short posts. Next week I'll probably be returning to my usual long-winded ramblings. Thanks for reading both!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What's missing?

This might be easier if I took more wide shots of the garden. I may start doing that more often now that a certain feature has been removed. Can you guess what it is?

I'm so glad I weeded the space between those steps and the gravel path before I took this picture! That would have been so embarrassing!

No more deer cages! While the black wire fencing we used to protect trees and shrubs never showed up too badly in photos, they were an eyesore to look at in person. While I still wish I had more "garden" and less "yard", taking down the individual cages was a satisfying improvement. Now there's just one big cage, and we're in it. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday Vignette

Another quick post. Mondays and Tuesdays are so busy for me, but I can find a few minutes to post a quick vignette. This meme is hosted by Anna of Flutter and Hum. Thanks, Anna!

I caught my Cotinus 'Grace' looking quite lovely with the morning light shining through it. The pattern of light and shadow captured my gaze as I surveyed the yard, now without deer cages around the plants (to be celebrated in a later post).

By the time this post is published, my mother and I will be on our way to visit family friends in the Okanogan. Pre-scheduled posts are a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Just a quick teaser shot of the new water lines. Those are the ditches I referred to yesterday that I was helping to fill in.

Ooh, shiny new faucet...

Watering just became significantly easier.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sneak Peek of My Lewis River Hike

Since I'll be spending most of the week in eastern Washington in the Okanagan area, I had planned to write and schedule posts ahead of time for the whole week. I guess I should have started a day or two earlier, since events (and laziness) conspired to keep me from writing. Watering, filling in ditches, watering, weeding, and various other plant-related tasks filled up much of my time. Did I mention watering? If last summer didn't convince me to start shifting towards drought tolerant plants, this spring certainly has. The cold I got over more than a week ago is still showing some effect through my messed up sleeping pattern, so I've been trying (and mostly failing) to get that back in order. I envy those for whom sleep comes easily. But that's getting off topic. Would I do that? Ramble on about nothing? Me? No need to share your opinions on that point. We all know the answer. Between the heat discouraging further planting and my messed up sleeping pattern, I've been rather lazy the last couple weeks, even when it hasn't been that hot because I know the heat is going to return.

That's why it's good to get away from the garden for a day of hiking, after making sure everything is watered, of course. Here's a quick preview of yesterday's hike along the Lewis River, from the upper end of Swift Reservoir to the lower Lewis River Falls. Well, quick for me, at least. Lots of pictures with few words. Please forgive this lazy tour guide. He's currently nursing a headache, but will be more than happy to answer any questions about the pictures below. I've numbered them for easier reference.



































Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hiking to Loowit Falls

The other weekend, a friend of mine came down from Tacoma and we, together in loose company with my mother and some of her teacher friends, drove up to Mt. St. Helens to hike out to Loowit Falls, one of the waterfalls that comes out of the crater of the volcano. This was the closest I've ever been to the mountain, despite having grown up within an hour drive of it.

However, I have hiked the surrounding area many times and taken numerous pictures of the peak and the returning flora, so I wasn't as shutter happy as I usually am. It allowed me to relax a bit more and enjoy the sites with my own eyes instead of on a camera screen. I did snap a few photos, though.

This lupine was draped elegantly over the rock face along the trail, with it's roots sunk into a narrow cleft filled with gritty soil. So lush and beautiful for such a harsh local.

The famous and much-photographed Mt. St. Helens. See that moonscape in front of the mountain? That's where we're going.

We lucked out by hiking this area at pretty much peak bloom time for Penstemon cardwellii and indian paint brush (Castilleja spp.).

Some of the paintbrush had gorgeous dark leaves to contrast with the red flowers.

Down off the ridge and onto the plains in front of the mountain. It looks a little greener than it did up on the ridge. In fact, it's covered in lichens and lots of various little plants and tree seedlings. If you look at the highest point on the right side of the rim and look down to the dark shadow directly below that, that's our destination.

Here's a closer view. You can see Loowit Falls tumbling down out of the base of the mountain.

The most numerous plant by far on the landscape in front of the mountain was dwarf alpine lupine (Lupinus lepidus). It carpeted the ground in silvery grey, punctuated by over-sized purple flowers. The bits of red in the photo below are sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella). A terrible weed in the lowlands, it actually looks like it belongs up here and is kind of pretty. It's still an invasive weed, though.

Here's a few of those over-sized lupine flowers. They glow with the silver leaves.

As we get closer to the mountain, the plants are fewer and farther between and the landscape begins to look truly barren. One can hardly believe this is in western Washington.

But even in this desolate landscape, certain plants have colonized the rock and ash and are thriving. Here a particularly beautiful Penstemon cardwellii shows the tenacity of living organisms.

Looking back, you can see Spirit Lake. When the mountain blew, the lake bed was raised 200 feet by pyroclastic flows and the water in the lake was pushed up over the ridges behind it to form several new lakes. If we had been a little higher up, like on the ridge to the left of the lake, we would have seen Mt. Rainier. We did get glimpses of it, but not in this picture.

Turning back toward the mountain, we're so close to it we can hardly see it. Ironic, isn't it? Wispy clouds fanned out above the crater like an echo of flame. Of course, there was very little lava or fire when St. Helens blew, but it makes for nice imagery, doesn't it?

Lupinus lepidus grows onto the very base of the mountain. Pity it's one of those alpine plants that just doesn't make the conversion to garden growing.

No ridges stood between us and Mt. Adams, allowing us a great view.

Almost to the falls now.

And here it is! This is likely the youngest and fastest-changing canyon in North America. The loose rock results in frequent slides, altering the canyon with each collapse. I found a source claiming that in 2011 the falls were 186 feet tall. I'm not sure how much they've changed since then, but the photo below is quite deceptive as to scale. Those falls are much taller than they look.

 We sat near the falls and ate lunch before heading back. On the return trip I looked back and was struck by this hillside absolutely covered in Lupinus lepidus.

When we reached the parking lot we made a beeline for the visitor center to refill our waterbottles. Even on a cool, breezy day like that day, hiking across that open landscape is thirsty work. Just before we left, a hawk landed in a nearby tree, probably waiting to snag one of the chipmunks or ground squirrels that grow fat and lazy off of handouts from tourists.

The unrelenting sun, compounded by the reflective rock, left me rather lobsterish, even where I had applied sunscreen. My legs were definitely tired, and no wonder. On the map at the trail-head, the route we took looks about 16 miles long. The section of trail that goes across the flats doesn't have a distance on the map, and it's a far more winding in the walking than it looks on the map. So the total distance was probably closer to 18 miles, but it was definitely worth it. It was so good to get out hiking again. Time to plan another trip.
Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I love hearing what readers think and answering questions. I also welcome suggestions for improvement!