Silver Linings

We’re in the late-February slog of a western Washington winter. Personally, I’m done with winter, but it doesn’t seem to be done with me. I’m trying to look for the silver lining (I can really see it today—what is that yellow-white orb in the sky?). Wet, cold weather is an important part of keeping Washington green. And right now, the native seeds we planted last fall are undergoing natural “stratification”; many species need two to three months of cold weather to soften them and prepare them for germination. And the plants know where we are in the calendar; Pretty Shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum) and Great Camas (Cammassia leichtlinii) are fully informed and sprouting above the cold soil. Both grow from bulbs and seed themselves fairly easily.

Pretty Shootingstar is the easiest of the Shootingstars to grow. It does well in partial shade to full sun. It does best in moist, even wet conditions.

The bulb sends up leaves in early spring, then gratifies the gardener with gorgeous magenta flowers. Later, the seed pods drop seed which will readily germinate and thrive IF not out-competed by weeds OR victimized by indiscriminate weeding!

Great Camas does well in soil that holds winter moisture – it can be completely inundated — but dries out in the summer. It is easy to unwittingly weed out the seedlings, which resemble blades of grass.

Pretty Shootingstar-DodecatheonPulchellum IMGP4357CamassiaLeichtlinii at TH

Flower & Garden Show

How about those Seahawks? This is why we won! IMGP4970pom-pom

Tadpole Haven’s natives are ready to parade downtown Wednesday morning to welcome the Seahawks home…OH! AND to strut their stuff at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show!  Our plants will be at the WSNLA’s “Treasure Island Marketplace” (booth 2418).

Are you craving light?  I can’t help thinking about light!  What a relief that days are growing longer!  A week ago, during that glorious stretch of sunny weather, a friend spotted some people sunbathing on a beach towel in the middle of a pasture.  I took time to stand in a patch of sun, sleeves pushed up, eyes closed, face turned to that primeval source of life-giving energy.  I figured here was my drug-and-pill-free chance to naturally absorb Vitamin D and beat back Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Plus it gave me a spiritual boost –almost enough to convert me to paganism!

Plants are doing the same thing –responding to the return of life-giving light.  The most obvious are the bulbs that are coming up in everyone’s gardens; in the nursery, a few Great Camas (Cammassia leichtlinii) have poked above the soil. The buds on Red-Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) and Red Alder (Alnus rubra) are swelling and changing color.  Western Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) buds are fat and fuzzy, and the catkins of the big ones in the woods have been showing for a month or more.  Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) actually has miniature leaves forming on its branchtips.  Of course, wintertime is the best time to see our native mosses in full glory, both in the forest and in pots in the nursery.  Same goes for Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza), which revels in winter light, often high, high in the branches of majestic Big-Leaf Maples (Acer macrophyllum).  The pointed red shoots of Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) are poised at ground level, ready to blast off like a surface-to-air missile.