I lucked out on my plans for the weekend. I was thinking now is a good time for the Eastern Washington early blooms. The Pass report mentioning snow, traction tires and even snow in Wenatchee put the damper on that bit of enthusiasm. I decided to focus closer to home and pretty much everyone can guess I went up to Washington Park, my favorite Spring venue.
You will be proud of me for strictly obeying the speed limit on Hwy 20 from I-5 to Anacortes.
A few weeks ago we visited without a hint of Spring on the grounds. Only a few Red Currents waiting for Hummingbirds. Saturday was a different story. The best part is that it didn't rain a lick and I actually got a bit too warm in my hike around the loop. Now flowers are starting.
I encountered a camera club having their first meeting and getting to know their cameras. I encouraged them to visit the park often and clued them in on some of the best spots for nature study.
Along the south face of the park the path to the Serpentine slope holds a treasure trove of mosses and ferns. It is here that Fawn Lily grows in abundance. This day there were two flowers already up and dozens of buds just breaking through the moss carpet. It is interesting to see that these flower buds are already quite white when they are erupting from the ground and not encased in a greenish cover, like so many lilies. All over the mottled leaves give promise of the bounty that will cover this path. It is here that I also find Calypso Orchids, but they are still quite tucked in underground.
Other early blooms include the impossibly small Blue-eyed Mary. These love the open slopes along the south face and happily tuck themselves into every rocky foothold. If moss grows on the surface, the Blue-eyed Mary appears nearby.
Paths along the south face are a little misleading. Many of them are blazed by deer and can take you to spots you do not recognize. There is always the potential to see something from a new perspective. The deer trails certainly show you where the more sturdy footing is. The superficial soil, characteristic of the south rock face, can be plenty treacherous. This Pacific Juniper makes a fantastic sculpture. On the slope the Juniper and the Madrone are the dominant species.
Yellow Monkey flower was up an blooming. They love the steep rocky walls and seem to have the longest bloom period of the showy flowers.
I followed some deer tracks and came upon a secluded break in the trees. Here I found a nice population on Satin-flower ( Douglas' Blue-eyed Grass). These flowers have an early and short blooming life. They time with the Blue-eyed Mary and Spring Gold. The "satin" in its name comes from the sheen the petals have.
Field Chickweed grows in abundance. I think it is a pretty little backdrop for the more showy, less common flowers.
I am glad I followed the little deer trail. It led me out onto a trail into the woods. "I know this trail" I thought and I looked down to my right. And there it was, exactly where one was last year. The first blooming Calypso Orchid of the year. Last year I spotted one here , very early in March. It was my first wild orchid spotting of the year then as well.