Photos courtesy of Dennis Plank
The last couple of days of March were quite tempestuous on the South Sound Prairies with lots of rain showers, and some hail and both of them blowing sideways. The winds gusted enough to blow over a few trees in the area. However, the plants are apparently loving it.
I had reason for going out the last couple of days (Blood Donation on Monday-hint) and a quick hardware store run Tuesday for repair materials for wind damage) and I was stunned by the difference in appearance of the landscape between the two days. It’s like everything green decided to suddenly show off
On our little five acres of prairie, the latest additions are the Shootingstars (Dodocatheon hendersonii).
I first noticed these on Sunday and took some pictures, most of which didn’t come out to my liking. This one was taken with flash attachment and a diffuser to even the light source out. The water is left over from the overnight rains Monday night.
The Spring Gold is popping out all over. Where there were one or two plants blooming a week ago, there are now ten or twenty and the Buttercups, while slightly slower are still multiplying nicely.
It’s interesting that Deb Naslund’s visit to Scatter Creek a week ago produced the same species and they actually appear several days further along (judging by the Chocolate Lily) than we are today. Scatter creek is about 4 ½ miles SSW of us as the crow flies. This demonstrates the differences a change in microclimate can make. We are just down slope from the Black Hills and in the Black River valley. For some reason, this results in colder and wetter winters and hotter and drier summers than those just a few miles away on the I-5 corridor.
Many of the prairie plants that can survive mowing do seem to bloom first in the yard, though there are a great many of these popping up in our unmowed prairie area. For example this little patch comprising Spring Gold and a Shootingstar was found just off the path to my bird feeding station/photography blind.
While out looking for a patch of spring gold to photograph, I happened to run across the first Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) bloom right in the middle of our “orchard” (two apple trees and two Garry Oaks).
There are a couple of more buds visible behind this bloom, so it won’t be long until the patches of this plant will be covered in white and gold.
The Camas here has gone from about 2 inches last week to about 4 inches this week, though it still has a long ways to go. It is nonetheless reassuring that it will come again, just as this pandemic will pass.