August – Mt. Rainier in riotous bloom

mt-rainierMy son is almost 14 and I’ve never taken him to Mt Rainier. It’s the dogs’ fault – not the same dog but one dog after another over the years. Every time I’d contemplate going I’d look at whatever hound we had at the time and think about going out and frolicking in the mountains without them (dogs aren’t allowed out of the parking lot at national parks) and would be overcome with guilt and take a nice trip to Carkeek instead. No more.¬† I will not allow the bloody dog to drive my life and so this past Sunday, off we went to Mt. Rainer. After years of delay I wasn’t going to let the projected thunderstorms stop me.

Bog gentian, Mt. Rainier, Paradise 8/24/3014

Bog gentian, Mt. Rainier, Paradise 8/24/3014

I would have thought that August 24 would be past peak for flowers, but if it was, it was a bounteous and floriferous past-peak. Nature at Mt. Rainier follows some excellent design principle, plant in large drifts for impact and repetition of the same elements.

flowersRainierLarge groupings of lupine climbed the slopes of the meadow, scattering the hillside in dusky purple, punctuated by the occasional sock-you-in-the-eye red of Indian paintbrush or bright yellow of some DYC (damn yellow composite). Also in plentiful bloom were pale lavender gatherings of cascade aster (Aster ledophyllus) or maybe some were alpine asters (Aster alpigenus). Some areas were dominated by small white heads of what I think are a bistort (Polygonum). Occasionally, and more isolated, were the flat white flowerheads of yarrow (Achillea), the occasional pink monkeyflower (Mimulus), showy seedheads of Western anemone and in one little area along the road, bog gentians (Gentiana calycosa). Oh, and some spirea and I think some sort of parsley family relative also bloomed here and there. So altogether, not a bad day on the mountain, right until the rain started.gloomyrainier

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PLANT UPDATE – August, Red twig dogwood and others

Red twig dogwood in disguise as boring leafy plant

Red twig dogwood in disguise as boring leafy plant

This idea behind this blog is to look at plants throughout the season – at their best, their worst and the somewhere in between, but boy is it easy to forget about about a plant when it is in its boring stage.

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August – sliding garden gate, a practical solution

metalgateI’m always on the lookout for innovative fences, walls, gates – ones that are functional and aesthetically pleasing. I have to say that the one above was more aesthetically pleasing in person than it is in the photo. I think painting the metal surround could definitely turn this into an eye-catching garden feature. Nevertheless, it is a practical plan for a gate in this somewhat difficult situation.

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August – PLANT UPDATE – Mahonia x media

mahoniaMahonia is a winter into spring plant with its cheery yellow blooms on a sculptural (also pointy and pokey) evergreen plant. What happens in summer? Well, the pointy and pokey continue but instead of blooms there are some fairly showy berries.

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July – Late season garden that is beautiful AND a bee haven

Photo taken 7/25/2014

Photo taken 7/25/2014

I have a dog so when I walk the beast, I look at yards. Lately, with my bee fixation, I also hunt for bees and the plants and gardens that seen to be the most bee friendly. I’ve discovered that some plants, despite prolific flowers, are largely ignored by bees of all sorts. Others are beloved by honey bees but visited by few others.

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