Oficially Autumn

Oficially Autumn.  Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) leaves clatter down, each leaf disproportionately loud.  After the recent rains, Chanterelle mushrooms popped up along the driveway like storm-scattered gold coins.  The Douglas Squirrels have been busy for weeks cutting down cones and stuffing themselves with the seeds.  They seem unimpressed by the dramatically scarred Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) that was struck by lightning a couple weeks ago.  They are busy collecting its cones, skittering around in the Cascade Oregon Grape (Mahonia nervosa) at its base.  Our healthy slug population is making love by the light of the harvest moon and laying pearly eggs–so sweet!  L  Many of the Pacific Chorus Frog tadpoles have metamorphosed out of the kiddy pools and hopped into the woods for the winter.

This is a good time to plant; cooler weather means new plants need less water and TLC to get a good start.  Shrubs and trees are flying out of the nursery, many headed for city parks and Snoqualmie Valley farm hedgerows.  Get your piece of the action!

Lightning strike!

Last Thursday’s thunderstorm threw some thrills at Tadpole Haven.  But I had no idea until I drove in the following morning and noticed strips of bark strewn on the driveway.  “Hmm, what’s that from?” I briefly wondered through my morning stupor.  I’d been up late, watching Mother Nature’s light show from my front porch.  “Maybe a bear tore up a log…?”  I promptly forgot about it until I walked over that way later and WOW! I saw the tree!  Either an extremely tall bear tore into it (no, dumb idea) or the big Douglas Fir* had been hit by lightning!  A four-inch wide strip of bark was peeled off the 70-year-old tree, virtually from top to bottom (130’+).  The electricity slammed into the ground at the base of the tree, stripping the bark all the way into the dirt, digging a hole and unearthing an ancient TreeTop Apple Juice can (metal!) that my brother had probably littered there in 1967 (I never littered;  I was good).  Pretty Darn Cool!

See a couple of pictures on our Facebook page, or better yet, come take a look when you visit the nursery. Grow your own thrills!**


 *Pseudotsuga menziesii, for inquiring minds


Summer survivors


The nursery plants are heaving a collective sigh of relief:

“Aaaahhh!  No substitute for pure, fine, generous rain!  Especially when our roots are hostage inside a hot black container and the people who are responsible for our unwilling domestication are not noticing our suffering!  But in spite of neglect and the indignity of captivity, we have survived another summer in Tadpole Haven Gulag.  And – Dang! – we look GOOD (well, most of us).”

“The fact is, us natives are MADE to handle the long dry spells we have every summer (though it is a challenge when our roots are hampered by being in a pot).  Free us from our captivity and we’ll really show what we’re made of.  But remember, we each have our niche where we thrive!”

Well, maybe I’m hearing things, but that’s what the plants are saying to me (it’s been a quiet summer — I must be short on human contact).  And though I didn’t like being accused of neglect, I agree with them that they look good, mostly.

It’s a little early for fall color and falling leaves, and right now some of our most dapper prisoners denizens are several evergreen shrubs and groundcovers that thrive in some of the driest conditions known to western Washington gardeners:  the parched, sometimes dark, shade of tall evergreen trees.  We’ve got four especially beautiful natives that thrive where others perish:  Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), Cascade Oregon Grape, (Mahonia nervosa), Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) and Salal (Gaultheria
).  This foursome is an adaptable set, able to handle variety of conditions.  It’s nice to have these evergreens as part of a landscape:  they look good all winter, and provide a good contrast with  the changing hues of native wildflowers and deciduous trees and shrubs.  I got some of these internees residents to pose for a group hug:   IMGP4839evergreens