Through fields, down old railroad tracks and along the edges, where June makes and keeps a million promises.
Bees, wasps, ladybugs – insects are busy everywhere.
Grasses are laden with flowers that few people see, but look closely – there’s another world there. Above us, the Cottonwood trees have gone to seed, launching a heavenly mist of cottonwood snow that collects in everywhere nook and cranny.
The late afternoon sun shines on foxglove flower spikes, and makes shadow play from the stamens and pistils inside each flower – amazing! Horsetails have grown as tall as we are and these primitive plants are radiant in the bright light of a late spring day.
On days like this, it seems the weather changes as often as the road curves.
Animal life is everywhere – rabbits bound into the bushes, mother ducks herd their ducklings (fewer every day, as the eagles take their share), young, curious deer wander about, turtles bask in the sun, and look, there’s even a river otter – or is it a beaver? – munching on marsh plants. Speaking of beavers, that lodge is getting bigger again.
Wildflowers are blooming and going to seed faster than we can track. Sheer heaven it is, sheer heaven!
- Moth mullein (Verbascum blattaria) flowers grow tall and straight along the railroad tracks in Woodinville, Washington.
- This close-up may be a little out of focus, but it captures the spirit as a fat bumblebee heads towards another drink at the foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) fountain.
- a.) A wasp (?) on a daisy b.) Two Pacific forktail (Ischnura cervula) damselflies on Himalayan blackberry.. The Pacific forktail is a common, widespread species here, found from early March through November. The Himalayan blackberry was brought here for fruit years ago and isn’t from the Himalaya, it’s from Armenia and northern Iran – and now it’s a ubiquitous, difficult to control weed in the Pacific northwest. c.) Here’s some “foam” from Spittlebugs, probably the Meadow spittlebug, which overwinters as eggs that hatch into nymphs the spring. Nymphs exude the foam to protect them from predators while they feed. In most cases, not too much damage is done to the plants. d.) Nothing like a ladybug to brighten the day! This one’s an Asian multicolored ladybeetle (Harmonia axyridis), yet another introduction, brought over to control aphids. So far these little guys have not become invasive, as far as I know.
- An unidentified grass in full flower. If you get a chance to peer closely at a blooming grass, do it and you may be amazed!
- a.) Cottonwood seeds have fallen onto a fern frond. Female Cottonwood trees bear the seed catkins. An individual seed, little more than a ball of fluff with a tiny dark center, can travel for miles. I’ve watched young ducklings nibble them off the water’s surface, too. b.) Cottonwood fluff collects in the grass on a city street.
- Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is another common plant here that isn’t native. The beautiful flowers are from Europe. but have naturalized here and are often seen along roadsides and railroad tracks.
- Field horsetails (Equisetum arvense) can be noxious weeds, but their radial symmetry is quite beautiful, and en masse they make pleasing patterns for the photographer – not the gardener though! They are found all over the Northern Hemisphere and have been put to many uses, from polishing tool to medicine and food.
- On the road in the Snoqualmie Valley, an agricultural area just east of Seattle.
- Look up!
- A well-tended horse farm – excuse me, private dressage facility – in the Snoqualmie Valley. Called River Run Ranch, it was on the market for $9.9 million a few years ago. The view here includes snow-capped peaks and rounded blue foothills of the Central Cascade Range, and it’s only about 20 miles from Seattle.
- a.) Two young deer, a doe and a buck, are curious about me, but at the last minute they decide to circle around, leaving about twelve feet between us. b.) River otter or beaver – I’m not sure which. Both live in Lake Washington, where this poor photo was taken by an over-exited person – me. c.) A prosperous looking beaver lodge in the Sammamish River at Marymoor Park.
- There she is, sweet thing, keeping a wary eye out. Heading towards the winery.
- A Great Blue heron watches for morsels at a shallow bay of Lake Washington.
- Nymphaea odorata, the American pond lily, will soon send up flower stems, but I think the leaves are beautiful too. What a striking composition they make with the tall, slender stems of cattails.
- The pretty little Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) is a common sight around here. Apparently this flower is native to Europe AND North America, at least eastern North America. Taken with the Takumar 50mm lens (see #20).
- This fun plant is called Manroot (Marah oreganus). It’s a sprawling, fast-growing, large-leaved wild vine that often bears delicate white flowers and these “cucumbers” (which are not edible) at the same time. A native plant, it has been pout to many medicinal uses.
- The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) needs no introduction to west coast gardeners. The California state flower, this drought-tolerant poppy isn’t what you would expect to see in the rain-soaked Pacific northwest, but we are dry all summer, so the poppy manages pretty well. Taken using an Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro lens.
- This lovely wild shrub rose, the Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana ) grows throughout the west. Bees, butterflies, birds, mammals – many wild beings depend on it as a food and shelter source. For me, the beauty is enough.
- Again, look up! Unless it’s pouring rain, it’s almost always a good thing to do.
- Another native plant, this is probably the Meadow lupine, Lupinus polyphyllus. There are many lupines in the American west, and they’re hard to tell apart, but they’re all wonderful to see in flower. The photo was taken with a vintage lens, the Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f1.4, which requires an adapter to fit my camera. The inexpensive lens has a soft, warm and sometimes ethereal look. A nice way to end a delightful June day of wandering through the unkempt edges of the county, here in the Pacific northwest.