27 April 2017


There are only a few more days to catch the riot of color in the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley for spring of 2017.
      The Tulip Festival folks have a helpful site--here is a link to Bloom Status, the source for this beautiful photo. RoozenGaarde lists they will have tulips blooming until 7 May 2017.

Skagit Valley tulips
RoozenGaarde Farm,
as of 27 April 2017.
Photo from the Bloom Status site.

If you'd rather I stay within the bounds of our garden isle of Shaw, I can do that with one of my favorite tulip photos from the garden of Gwen Yansen, from fifteen years ago. These are Menton Tulips, an attractive blend of three colors.
Menton Tulips ©
A late blooming, single tulip bred in 1971.
As pretty as the grower, Gwen Yansen (1915-2012.)
Gwen's garden, Shaw Island, WA.

01 April 2017

🌿 Swamp Beauty 🌿 "YELLOW ARUM" One April 2017

(Lysichiton americanum)
Most often known in the PNW as "Skunk Cabbage,"
they are more stunning up close and personal; if you are
on the island, it is worth a stop to view this native happy
along a small stream on Ben Nevis Loop Road,
where lives a lot of the March rain.
Shaw Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Anno One April Two Thousand and Seventeen.
"The large tropical-looking swamp plant whose brilliant yellow spathes illuminate the dark swamps as early as February or March [is still out to greet us this day on Shaw Island.] The spathe unfolds to reveal the spadix, a thick stalk bearing hundreds of small greenish flowers. Shortly the fleshy oval leaves emerge from the mud, ultimately to form huge fans. These are the largest of any plant occurring in our area. Some have measured 56" long by 29" wide!
      The whole plant has a smell of spring, of surging growth, that would be objectionable in a closed room but is not unpleasant in its own habitat. For the record, it does not smell at all like the mephitic spray of the skunk. Bears consume the whole plant, including the short thick rootstock, while deer occasionally browse the leaves.
      This huge plant is related to the taro, staple food of the Polynesians. Both plants produce a stinging sensation in the mouth, due to calcium oxalate. Ages ago, the natives of our area discovered, as did those of the South Seas, that roasting and drying the root drove off the substance responsible for the stinging, burning taste, after which it could be ground to an edible flour.
      Look for the yellow torches of the Yellow Arum (Lysichiton americanum) in the mucky ground and swampy areas along the coast from Alaska south, and in the interior of BC south from about the latitude of Prince George to central California."
Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to Northern California. Clark, Lewis. Sidney, BC; Gray's Publishing Limited. 1976.

Nancy J. Turner (Plant Technology of the First Peoples of British Columbia. UBC Press, 2001.)
tells us that the large, flat, water-repellent leaves were used as wax-paper by virtually all coastal aboriginal cultures and even some cultures in the interior. They also made makeshift berry containers by folding and pinning the leaf edges together with sticks.