Wild Ginger and CA Dutchman’s Pipe

The Aristolochiaceae is a very interesting family. To me the two most well known members of this family are both growing in my back yard right now. Both of them have extremely fascinating flowers. I’ve tried to give you a glimpse of what they look like here. Both are very unique and unusual. I like that a lot about them. And they’re also useful.

The first is the Wild Ginger, or Asarum caudatum. It grows wild in the wet forests of the Pacific Northwest and there’s also a related species called Asarum canadensis that grows in the middle of the country and north into Canada, as the name implies. Dan Riegler at Apothecary’s Garden has some great recipes on how to make wild ginger candy. You can see his recipe for his candied Ginger here: http://apothecarysgarden.com/recipes-2/candied-wild-ginger-a-recipe-from-fresh/.

My patch doesn’t look that great right now at the end of winter and is just starting to put on new growth. The flowers can barely be seen in a couple of these shots and you can see how very weird they look. I love the deep burgundy color and the “wings” it has on the sides of the flowers. I’m not sure what they’re called but they look cool to me.

The other notable plant in this family is the California Dutchman’s Pipe. I showed it earlier when it was just starting to bud out and promised I’d show it in bloom, so here it is. I’ve tried to get shots of the whole vine in one picture with others of a closeup of the flowers themselves. They’re quite interesting and unique aren’t they? They really do look like a pipe don’t they?

They call it insectivorous even tho they don’t actually eat insects. They do entice them to crawl down into the flowers tho and pollinate them and then they release the bugs to go on their way. A very civilized system of pollination I’d say. These grow as tremendous vines in wetlands in California. I’ve seen them there and their swamps are very cool and weird too. They can cover large areas and I saw a particular place in their range where the Forest Service had built a walkway over the water so we could walk among them. Very cool.

So that’s it. A simple post for a change. Just wanted to show these extraordinary plants while they were in bloom and looking good. I don’t have enough ginger to really try Dan’s recipe yet but some day I hope to be able to. It sounds too good to miss out on and having unusual foods in my own garden is really wonderful. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of some unusual plants.

Happy gardening!

Steve

Trees of the Rain Forest

The Quinalt River valley and rain forest is home to some of the world’s largest trees. Some of them are the biggest trees outside of California where the Coast and Giant Sequoias grow. In this one valley are 6 of the largest trees, either in Washington State or in the whole world for some species. These include the Western Red Cedar, the Sitka Spruce, the Yellow Cedar, the Mountain and Western Hemlocks and the Douglas Fir.

In the first picture here you can see the world’s largest spruce tree. It’s a Sitka Spruce, or Picea sitchensis, as the sign tells and is absolutely huge. I tried to get as much of it in the picture as possible but it’s just too tall. It’s located just a short walk from the Ranger Station and the Quinalt Lodge in the heart of the river valley so it’s an easy one to get to and marvel at.

The next picture is of the world’s largest Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata. We didn’t even try to shoot the top of this because the forest was too dense to see it but you can tell it’s a giant from the size of this trunk. It’s so ancient feeling. I’m not sure how old it is but it’s 174 feet tall and has a circumference of 63 feet. It’s on the north side of the lake and took some hard hiking to get to, as it was very wet when we took this shot last year. But it was worth the climb… The shot after that shows a large cedar from the top down. It’s not a record breaker but it’s still large and gives you an idea of how they grow.

The next shot is an unusual one and one we never thought we’d see. It’s in a subdivision near the ocean and is a Dougls Fir trunk that is estimated to have been 1000 years old when it was cut down at the turn of the last century. That’s the 20th century btw… so it was cut in the late 1800′s or early 1900′s. They plan to hollow it out and cover over the inside to make it a tree house and a history lesson for the people who see it. It should be amazing to see when it’s done.

If you look closely at the left side you can see notches cut into the trunk. This is how they cut down these giants. They cut chunks out and hammered in planks which they stood on to saw thru the trunk many feet in the air as the bole of the tree was too wide to cut otherwise and was useless lumber. There are huge stands of these stumps all over the West in forests that have been logged. It’s am ingenious way to cut them down, tho personally I can’t understand the mind of a person who would dare to cut down an ancient being like this tree was. As I said in my last post I’m against logging old growth forests wherever they are. It’s too late for this one but there are many others that need protection.

Next is the trunk of a large Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii. Not a record breaker, still the largest one in the world is located in the park near where we hiked. It was too far to make it to it so here are its stats. It’s 302 feet tall and 40 feet around. Huge isn’t the word for it I guess. It’s massive. It’s a tie with one somewhere else I don’t know where, but it may be in British Columbia which also has some huge trees. I took a picture of the trunk close up and then looking up into this tree. The next shot is of the Fir gracing the lawn at the edge of the lake near the Lodge. It shows how a Fir can grow when it’s not surrounded by other trees. Pretty nice, eh?

Next is a Western Hemlock. The largest one of this in the US is here in the Park too. It’s pretty isolated so we couldn’t see it but I wanted to give an idea of how they grow. The biggest one is 172 feet tall and 27 feet around. Not as big as the firs but still large. The Mountain Hemlock isn’t pictured here, but the largest in the world is in a far away part of the park also. It’s some 152 feet tall and only 6 feet in diameter. They stay skinny, which is why I can grow one in my garden…

The final Big Tree in the famous 6 is a Yellow Cedar, which is neither particularly yellow nor a cedar but that’s what they call it. It’s a Chamaecyparis nootkatnensis and is on the north side of the lake. Too far to hike to. It’s “only” 129 feet tall and 37 feet in circumference. It grows from Oregon up into Alaska and is often called Alaska Cedar tho it’s a False Cypress by botanical name. I understand it’s name is in confusion now tho and may have a new genera name soon. We’ll see…

Here are a few of these trees all growing together in one place. In one you can see 4 of these big trees and in the other who can tell? I sure can’t from the picture tho I could at the site. I should have written it down I guess. These show how dense the forest is in the rain forest. Remember that this area gets around 12 Feet of rain a year on average, which means some years they get more! Amazing….

Here’s a large Red Alder, Alnus rubra. Not a giant at all but still quite nice. These cover huge tracts of land in the West and also fix nitrogen in the soil so they improve the soil where they often are one of the first things to come in after a clear cut or fire. Next is a Vine Maple, Acer circinatum, a large one at the base of a large cedar. These are also all over the rain forest and grow sorta like a Japanese maple. I have one I just planted in my garden too. The next is a simple shot of a Shore pine, Pinus contorta, which covers vast areas of the coastline all along the way from Oregon up to Washington and further north to BC. This is in someone’s garden in Moclips but it was a nice specimen I wanted to show you as its covers so much of the forest.

The last 4 shots are of trees that some human planted back in the day when the Lodge was first built in 1937 or so. I’m not sure just when they planted these there after that but I assume it was soon so figure these are only 75 years old or so and they are huge trees already. The first is of trunks of a few Coast Redwood that are probably 8 feet across and 0ver 100 feet tall, right out front of the Lodge. There are many more in back.

The next shot is of the Cryptomeria japonica that I have many cultivars of in my garden. This is the species and must be 80 feet tall or more. I’m not great at judging heights…  These have large trunks also and this is a clump of 5 trees you’re seeing here. I was surprised to be able to see this particular tree in the park. I didn’t know it was used so long ago in cultivation in such a place, but that just makes it more interesting to me…

The next is a large specimen of a Cryptomeria japonica elegans, which I also have in my yard. I’ve never seen one this big and was amazed that it actually gets this tall and wide. All the books say so but seeing is believing and it’s different in person. This is in someone’s front yard and I was thrilled to see it as we drove by and made Louie turn around so I could get a shot of it. I’m glad I did as it reminds me of mine as it grows.

Finally is something I’m assuming is an Atlas Cedar. A true cedar, Cedrus atlantica, not the Western cedar which is actually an arborvitae, or Thuja. This tree must have been planted here too and it’s probably 80 or 90 feet tall. I’m not 100% certain of my identification but I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. It’s native to the Atlas mountains in N. Africa and elsewhere in the mid east. Related to the Deodar and Lebanese Cedars, all Cedrus species.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the Big Trees of the Rain Forest. I’m so amazed that in this one little valley there could be all these huge trees. Obviously the rainfall is something they all love and the deep rich soil of the Olympic mountains feeds them well so they can reach record proportions. I feel lucky to have seen the ones I saw and hope that maybe we’ll hike in to see some of the others some time, tho as I get older that seems less likely. Hiking is hard work… ;)

Lovin’ the Big Trees,

Steve

Quinalt Rain Forest and Lodge

As I mentioned in my last post we just spent a week at the ocean near the Quinalt Indian Reservation. One day we took ourselves into that forest and to the Lodge there for lunch and to tour the area. The first shot is entering the Reservation tho most of the time we were slightly out of it on Park land. The first few shots are of the lodge. It was built in 1937 starting in early June and finished by late August the same year. Teddy was coming and they had to have suitable accommodations.

In 1937 Teddy Roosevelt visited the Olympic Rain Forest and was met by hordes of school children holding signs saying “Please Mr President, we children need your help. Give us our Olympic National Park”. Roosevelt said it was the “most appealingest appeal” he’d ever heard, and in June 1938 he created a 648,000 acre National Park and made it part of the National Park system. It’s now over a million acres. It celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. The lodge is at the southern most tip of the Park at the southern end of Lake Quinalt.

Looking at this structure it’s amazing to imagine them building it in under 3 months back in 1937 without the power tools we rely on today. It’s s a huge place as you can see from the picture that shows it from the back outside on the lawn. The rain gauge on the terrace shows that the highest rainfall they ever had was around 14 feet. Last year is it was 12 1/2 or so. It gets very wet here…

There are a couple of shots of the interior of the Lodge, showing the fireplace that takes 4 foot logs and the entrance to the Roosevelt Restaurant. The picture of all the photos shows the construction of the Lodge from start to finish. It’s hard to read of course but you can see the building going up fast and beautifully. The view from the Terrace shows the Lake as you see it from the dining room windows where we ate lunch. It was amazing and we saw a bald eagle perched in the top of the big Fir at the lawns edge.

Next we start to go on some walks and first encountered this tree covered with Licorice fern which I have growing in my garden. It does this thing where it grows on trunks of trees all over, even here in Seattle, but this was a fine stand of it. Next is a shot of the edge of the woods looking into the depths of the forest. Then we went on a hike on a Nature Trail and took a lot of shots along the way.

Willaby Creek runs under the road here and we can see it as it falls near the bridge and runs under it. It’s a fast flowing stream that gets pretty big in the winter season as it is rushing now. The trail follows its canyon for quite awhile till it turns back to the start of it. There are many fine ferns to see all over. Here are the Deer fern and the Sword fern, two common NW natives that I have in my yard at home. Here they cover the whole area. Quite a sight to see.

Once again we look into the deep woods and see as far as we can into them. It’s not easy as these woods are so dense. I’d never want to bushwhack in them, tho I have. It’s too dangerous and very wet. Lots of water everywhere here. It makes for a lush forest and lots of good growth. Here’s a shot of some kind of weird lichen someone put on a stump so it could be seen well. I dunno what it is but it’s beautiful up close like this.

Next I show a few nurse logs and stumps. These are decaying trees or stumps that serve as homes for new life. In some cases even big trees start out on these logs and create a new forest that way. It’s fascinating. In the middle of them is a picture of a skunk cabbage patch just starting to grow into its fluorescent yellow. Pretty cool, eh?

Next is another picture looking down into the depths of the forest. It’s just so full of life here it’s amazing how it can all fit. But each plant and animal has its role to play and together they all create this incredible ecosystem that ends with a shot of Lake Quinalt from a nice picnic area near the entrance to the Reservation.

It’s a large lake and only is used by the Native fisher folk now because of all the troubles with non-native invasive water creatures being brought in by outside anglers and boaters. Now only the Tribe can use the lake for fishing and I think that’s a good thing. It’ll preserve it from the encroachment of more of the usual development that has already happened here.

Lots of controversy is brewing out here to keep the Olympics wild, tho some locals want it kept for themselves to log and cut down the forest. You can probably tell where my sympathies lie. I sympathize with the local folks but this is a National, even a World Class, Treasure, and it needs to be protected. I think the Tribe will do a much better job of that and maintaining more of the land will only make more trees safe from the chainsaw.

I hope it happens well for all concerned and that some sort of compromise can be worked out to save this forest and keep people’s jobs as well. It’s not am easy task. There are signs all over the area saying to “Stop the Wild Olympics” and let them log it. I personally feel that Old Growth trees should Never be logged, ever again. We won’t have more of them in our lifetimes and even our great grandchildren won’t have them if we don’t save this incredible Sanctuary now. It’s the right thing to do for the generations to come and for the earth itself.

From the Rainforest,

Steve

A Week At the Ocean

Louie and I continued our third year of tradition by going to the Ocean for a week last week. We got to a little town called Moclips on the Olympic Peninsula near the Quinalt Indian Reservation land. In fact we wandered on the edge of the Res. in our hikes around the territory. It was a peaceful and wonderful week at the Sea, just being with the tides and the woods and the sun, which amazingly shown the whole time we were there. Wow!

We left Seattle on Monday with plans to stay thru Friday and saw a bit of rain on the way but it wasn’t bad, and by the time we arrived it was sunny and bright out. I immediately took the first picture here from the porch outside our window. This is the view we had the whole time we were there on the ocean. It was magnificent and so close it felt you could just touch it.

You can see how old this motel is, and how funky. It’s about a 1/2 a star rating I have to say but we like it OK and it’s so close to the beach you can’t beat it for the price and ease of access. And being so close to the Res. is wonderful all by itself. We spent a whole day on the Res. at the Quinalt Lake and I’ll post a couple posts on that later on. This is about our time at the sea.

You can just make out the bald eagle in the shot here. It’s right in the middle of the picture, which I blew up so it’d seem closer to us. This was the first day we were there and it’s a real treat to see it dancing in the wind. We have them in Seattle too of course but there’s something that’s really cool about seeing one in the wild like this. Such a magnificent bird.

There’s a lot of trails into the rain forest and I’ve tried to capture a feel of what it’s like to walk along the beach and into all the forest itself. The wind does a really cool job of sculpting the plants and trees at the waters edge. It gets pretty high sometimes but when we were there we had a big beach to wander on. But in winter’s high tide time it gets pretty high and all the beach is under water. I’d not want to be there then I think…

We just wandered all over in the rainforest. The area gets over 100 inches of rain a year and it shows with all the mossy growth on the trees. I shot a picture with a huckleberry and a salal just growing in the top of an old piling. This is called a nurse tree and I’ll show more in another post. Many plants start out on rotting timber. It’s a handy spot to be in I guess.

Many of the rest of these shots show what it’s like to be inside the forest, and some of the cool things we found in it, like the treefort some kids probably put together to hang out in. It’s perfect for that and only a short walk from town, tho it feels miles away. I can just imagine the parties they hold there in the summer… ;)

It’s almost eerie inside the forest, it’s so green with the sunlight filtering down thru the plants. The trees are mostly Sitka Spruce which usually get huge but here they’re almost dwarf but still large in the trunk. They make the forest so interesting and the ways they’ve found to grow is just amazing.

We wandered along the edge of the Res. every day we were there, taking pictures and just being amazed at the scenery. There’s something very magical about being in a rain forest with all its colors and the constant dampness and rot. It’s very primeval seeing it in its growth and decay.  It makes you feel like you’re all alone in the world and no one can touch you. An amazing feeling to have.

I’ll write more on visiting the Quinalt Reservation later on and show you some big trees we saw. I’ll do that in a few days or so. We’re still recovering from all the walking we did on the trip. I’m not used to so much and it got me pretty good, but it’s OK because it was so healthy to do and made us feel so good to be there. We’re lucky to have been able to take this trip and I hope we can make it a 4 year tradition next year.

From Moclips on the Sea,

Steve

How Gardening Heals Me

steven1111:

I wrote this well over a year ago in my other blog, Naked Nerves, which is about Living with Invisible Illness. Some comments I’ve gotten recently have made me feel that it’s perhaps relevant to post it again here now. The picture is a Ghost Fern underneath an Ukigumo Japanese maple.

Originally posted on Naked Nerves:

Well I suppose it was only a matter of time before my 2 blogs conjoined but I didn’t think it would happen in the same week I started them both. I’m writing here about my health and in the other about gardening and here they come together in a post about how my gardening is good for my health. It makes sense I suppose since it’s so much of my life. Perhaps the two most crucial factors in my existence except for my partner and our relationship. My relations with Gardening go back to my childhood tho so do my illnesses, some of the most significant ones that is. I’ve had Asthma since I was born. Literally. They put me in an incubator at birth so I could breathe and gave me medicine from the get go. And I can look back and see how the Bipolar Disorder has affected…

View original 1,038 more words

Fry ‘Em!

I got a new toy yesterday and I’m so happy. I’ve wanted one of these since I saw one in a gardening catalog a few months ago, and I finally found one in a local nursery on the 10% off Senior’s Day so we got a deal on it. It’s a Mini Dragon Weed Eater and it uses flame to kill weeds. It’s amazing! What used to take hours of backbreaking labor now takes a few minutes of hot fire. Wow!

I really do try to keep up with the weeds in our garden. I’m always pulling them out when they’re small so they don’t get too big as to be too much work. But one side of the yard is infested with serious grass and I just can’t get in to pull it out. So I’ve gone in a few times a year trying to get to them. I can only do this in the late spring or fall when the trees are bare so I can get at them. That time is now folks!

We first tried using a regular propane torch like you use for soldering and it work OK but it had such a small area of fire that it would have taken ages to do it. Plus it’s too hard to get back inside of the plants at the back of the bed. So we decided it was time to go for the real thing.

Off we went to the nursery and got the Weed Dragon Mini version. There’s a larger one that has a tank on a cart with 10 feet or so of hose so you can do big jobs. But for our little garden this mini one is just perfect. It has a super hot fire and a large outlet and just wilts the leaves in place immediately. Just a few passes and it’s over.

They say that you just need to flash over the weeds with a flame and it kills them but I was more intense and actually burned  them to the ground where I could. The wand makes it easy to get in behind the Pine and other plants that are too dense to really garden under so far back in the bed against the fence. I had to be careful so as not to burn the fence and we kept a jug of water handy all the time just in case, as you can see in the picture.

I showed the whole Weed Dragon as it first came from the box, and then with the tank on. It’s just one of the little 1 pound ones you see for propane stoves and such. It’s lightweight and easy to balance in your hand and you have to hold it at a 6:00 to 8:00 position or it’ll flame out so you have to use some care with it. Don’t want to lose the flame or start a fire!

I’ve shown some photos of what it looks like to actually use it and how far the flame will reach and spread out or how it will pin point and get really hot in a certain place. I shot several photos of the weeds after I burned them out and you can still see some green but it’s fading fast. I did these all yesterday and this morning you can see the weeds still sticking out from the edge of the filler, but they’re dying you can tell.

After I killed all the grasses we got some special driveway mix filler rock. It’s crushed 5/8″ inch gravel with a binder in it just for drives but it’s perfect for foundations for fountains or for decks and it works great to seal up areas like this where you don’t want anything to grow. The last few shots show what it looks like with the filler in place. It’s the end for weeds growing there now. I hope…

So all we have to do is go back a couple times a year with the Weed Dragon and top off the area near the fence and the filler. Anything that tries to come up again will be fried and won’t bother us again, and if it does we’ll fry it again. No mercy for these grasses I’m afraid.

Just using it right now in the back of the bed has been a tricky job but I think once I get more used to the Weed Dragon I’ll be able to use it closer to some of the plants and kill more weeds that way. But I’m being cautious at first. Don’t wanna catch any pine needles on fire!

The timing for this is pretty remarkable for me personally. On Monday my back went into spasm and I couldn’t walk that night. So I got some acupuncture on Tuesday and yesterday I felt OK enough to do the work, but it got me in the end and last night I went into spasm again. Sigh. This hasn’t happened in years and I’m a bit worried about it.

Sometimes I get totally crippled by the back spasms and I hope that doesn’t happen now. Even using the weed dragon when I feel like this would be too much for me. So I”ll be careful today and when I can use it again thsi tool will save me from hurting myself again in the future. Just no more rock for awhile, thank you…

So one more pass and we’re done with the weeding in this area for the year I hope. We have another bad patch in the back that we want to try it on too and it’ll save us untold hours of hard work that will now be easy to do. The Weed Dragon is advertised as being organic and doesn’t use herbicides and will still kill the grasses. It seems like a win – win to me.

These cost around 60 bucks, which is a lot, but I think it’ll be worth it for the saving on our bodies over time. I’m sure we’ll find other uses for it too as time goes on. They work to defrost driveways or walks and it can be used for that too. It’s a very versatile tool. I hope it does work as well as advertised and as it seems to do so far. If so we’ll have cut our weeding time back a lot. Yay for appropriate technology!

Happily Frying the Weeds! ;)

Steve

Seattle Home Show

We didn’t make it to the Flower and Garden Show this year so we decided to go to the Seattle Home Show instead. It’s mostly focused on home improvement, but they have several nice landscape features that I tried to capture a bit with a few photos. None of these gardens are really spectacular but they’re still pretty and show some of what folks around here are doing with landscapes these days.

We went to look at some things for the house, like new tubs for walking into, and new carpets and greenhouse windows and other stuff, and we got a lot of good information. It was a fun, easy day of wandering thru the show seeing all the new things people are using this year. I was amazed at all the spas that are for sale now, and the little saunas are cool too. But not for us…

Many of these shots are surrounding model homes of various sorts tho there are also shots of the wine and beer garden in the large open areas. I took these photos to show some of the particular plants that they have displayed. Some of them are ones I have in this garden here but many are not. You can tell how popular the coral bark maple is in how often it’s used here. Same with the Pieris and some others. And lots of grasses. I especially love the Yuletide camellias with their bright red blooms with yellow stamens.

Some folks bring in large trees to create a feeling of the forest in this huge convention center. It’s part of the CenturyLink Field where they hold football games, I think. I’m not a sports fan. This is in the exhibition hall and it’s one of the largest home shows in the country. I can believe it. We covered it in about 3 or 4 hours of solid walking with a break to learn about earthquake safety, something we have to worry about here in the PNW with its fault lines.  They expect a Big One sometime in the next 50 years. I hope I don’t live to see it… ;)

I also included some shots of a statuary place that had very interesting creations that the owner designs himself. We talked to him awhile about how he uses rubber molds and cement to make these beauties, and his prices are really nice. We plan to go to his showroom near us in the future to add a few more art pieces to the garden. They add a really nice feeling to it.

I can’t claim to have gotten any new gardening ideas from this show but I still appreciated seeing the designs that folks do. Of course none of them would grow in the real world as they’re display gardens meant to look good now and not in 5 years. They’d all be overgrown like crazy. But that’s OK and just the way it has to be. It’s nice to see things that look good from the get go and provide a sense of completion when they’re created.

So that’s it. I hope to make it to the Flower and Garden Show next year and will try to do a post on it when that happens. They do have some really nice gardens there and I’ve gotten some good ideas attending it. It’ll be cool to see it again, but for now I’m glad to have had the chance to see the gardens here at this Home Show and to have seen all the ways people are remodeling their homes and building new ones. It’s all fascinating to me looking thru my gardener’s lens…

Happy remodeling,

Steve

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Helping people to awaken into the fullness of who we really are- in love and peace...

Life Full of Adventure

Life's an adventure, to experience, to live, to die

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