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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Discoveries Big and Little

I spent the morning with the Nisqually Land Trust at their Salmon Creek property. I had never been to this property before but had driven past it many, many times. It borders I-5 right before you enter the Nisqually NWR, at the Mounts Road exit.

One would never guess that this magic little place is tucked in this spot. It was a wonderful day to discover it. Bright blue skies, lovely clouds that hold no threat of rain. Today was different from the usual work parties. Instead of lovingly, peacfully planting trees and shrubs...

Today we armed ourselves with Weapons of Invasive Destruction...

and pulled out English and Climbing ivy from a woodlands.

Non native ivy "runs" and will readily climb trees. Some trees can become so choked with ivy that they are brought down. The ivy robs the trees of their water and on the ground they compete with native plants.

It was tricky work. In areas where the ivy climbs trees it was easy to spot and pull the ivy. The ivy must be rolled into bundles as you work . Runners dropped or left will simply re-root and start running again. In spots where the ivy is not so dense you start losing the eye for spotting the leaf. There was a lot of native trailing blackberry and other lovely native plants. I tried very hard to spare our good plants while hunting for the bad.

The road to the property cut through a golf course and then made its way back towards the NWR. as the road turned and headed down to the property I saw a treasure, a sweet little cottage, just my style.

At the end of the road I was stunned to find another house. Raw wood plank sides and everywhere ceramic art.

Two artists who had lived here for many years greeted us. Both in their 80's they shared a little information about the property. They pointed to a lush green area and cautioned us to not get our cars in it. The soil was clay. They said that they use to harvest the soil for their ceramics. They pointed out their old clay processor still standing by a shed.

We grabbed our tools and set out for the woods. I instantly saw what the gentlemen meant. The surface of the pasture was like walking on wet mashed potatoes.

As we made our way to the woods I noticed many roses with thick mats of lichen. The hips were noticeable small. One of the managers mentioned that the clay soil dries out so severely in the summer and that the roses are somewhat stunted. There were so many, it must smell wonderful in bloom.

In the woods there were times when you really had to search hard for ivy. Ferns needed to be lifted and looked under and leaves gently sifted through.

Naturally I found many delights.

Every ones favorite, Banana Slug , Ariolimax columbianus. School mascot of the University of California , Santa Cruz

Haplotrema vancouverenses, a pretty native snail. This shell is empty.

Mushrooms in a hole protected by a log.

Indian Plum is starting to burst into bloom

An elk spent the night here

Snowdrops, a non native garden flower that has escaped from one of the houses.

Violets, also a non-native type, found all about the property.

The artists house overlooks the clay field and new plantings.

A grove of oak trees. Native oaks have become quite rare here. The Fort Lewis reservation and the areas around them hold some of the last Oak woodlands in western Washington.


  1. I love that cottage, with the moss on the roof. The banana slug, not so much.

  2. LOL. I'm with Louise on the slug. I love the pottery decorating the artists place. What a treasure.

  3. You two..

    not Northwest Girls

    (shaking head sadly)

  4. Great photos! Hey, I found your blog because I'm setting a mystery in PT, and needed to know more about slugs. Do you have plenty in PT? Are they most active at night?

  5. I assume you mean Port Townsend.

    Yes slugs are everywhere, the native bananas like mostly woodlands but will enjoy the garden. The dark brown Acer slugs are typical garden pests ( intoduced from Europe I believe) and are everywhere

    Slugs and snails, as a rule are more active at night and in the early morning / late afternoon evening when the sun is less intense ( drying) and there is more moisture in the environment ( dew) drying out is an issue. They love rainfall of course and a well watered garden will attract them at most anytime.

    I more likely find Banana Slugs in the woodlands at any hour when moisture is plentiful. In the heat of the summer, you are right, they like cool shade and damp.

    Good luck with your writing. I hope you return and visit here just for fun