April and May always leave me gasping for breath. Each year, the onrush of flowers and field trips and plant sales and programs whooshes in and sweeps me along. I hope that you, too, are having a botanically busy bonanza of a time.
Here’s just a sampling of what’s going on in the weeks to come:
Native Plant Appreciation Week is a great time to celebrate Washington’s floristic diversity. With over 3,000 native plant species growing in deserts, rain forests, high mountain meadow, river valleys, and even your backyard—Washington’s ecosystems are vital to sustaining our native wildlife and our own quality of life.
Many Washington Native Plant Society Chapters and other organizations are hosting walks and talks during this annual fest. A few of the activities are listed here:
April 26, Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve (near Blaine)
April 28, Goose Rock in Deception Pass State Park (Whidbey Island)
April 30, Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden (Federal Way)
May 2, Badger Mountain (near Richland).
This hike will explore the Skyline Trail, which climbs gradually through native grasses and some remaining patches of shrub steppe. Hosted by the Central Washington Chapter
May 2, Sugarloaf Wildflowers (near Anacortes)
Billed as “the ultimate wildflower hike of the year,” Sugarloaf offers a climb through forest and meadow, with blue camas (Camassia), red Indian paintbrush (Castilleja), and more. Hosted by the Salal Chapter.
May 2, Ski Hill Scavenger Hike (Leavenworth)
Species from both east and west of the Cascade crest populate this gem of an area. Blooming native shrubs, Washington’s native peony (Paeonia brownii), Oregon anemone (Anemone oregana) and other lovelies may be on view. Hosted by the Wenatchee Valley Chapter.
May 2, Native Plant Potpourri (Black Diamond)
Long-time Washington Native Plant Steward John Neorr will discuss the nature and benefits of native plants and propose several of his “Fan Favorites” for home landscaping. Hosted by the King County Library System.
May 2, Salal Chapter Plant Sale (near Mt. Vernon)
Beyond Native Plant Appreciation Week…
Looking deeper in to May and beyond, the opportunities just keep coming!
May 9: Central Puget Sound Chapter Native Plant Sale & Environmental Festival (Mercerdale Park, Mercer Island)
This big sale offers native ferns, grasses, perennials, shrubs, and trees, along with booths hosted by environmental groups and vendors.
Opening at 10:00 a.m. to the public, it’s worth noting that members of the Washington Native Plant Society can shop early, starting at 9:00 a.m. (That’s a hint: join WNPS today!)
This sale is hosted by the Central Puget Sound Chapter.
May 15, Education Grant applications due
Have a great idea? The Washington Native Plant Society Education Committee encourages educators—formal and informal—throughout our state to develop projects about native plants and plant habitats Education grants are classroom and curriculum projects and for projects linked to gardens, museums, parks and other public displays of or about native plants.
Grants for WNPS members, funded by WNPS member dues, are available for education projects that further the goals of the Society. Education proposals are reviewed by the Education Committee twice annually. Deadlines for submission are May 15 and November 15 each year.
June 5–7, Botany Washington at Ingalls Creek (near Peshastin)
June 17–19, Grasses Workshop with Clay Antieau
Knowing your grasses (that’s plants in the family Poaceae for anyone who might be confused) is critical to many fields of science and practice, including wetland identification and delineation, ecosystem restoration, erosion control, and interpretation of natural history.The Washington Native Plant Society and the University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum are proudly partnering to offer this workshop.
Beautiful and diverse, grasses are globally important in many ways—fundamental to the past and future survival of humans. Clay Antieau is a pro at this stuff: take a look at his blog post on Learning to Speak the Grass Language from when he taught this workshop in 2013.
August 14-16. Washington Native Plant Society Study Weekend: Islands in the Sky
Hosted this year by the Koma Kulshan Chapter in the North Cascades, one of the state’s most dramatic and botanically rich ecoregions. Registration will start in May. Check the WNPS website or your Douglasia (a benefit of membership, ahem) for registration and field trip information.
Hope you’re keeping botanically busy! Have you been out in the field lately? What have you seen, or learned, or done?