Archive for the ‘Jackson County’ Category

First Flowers at Hobart Bluff

Yellow bells is the perfect name for this cutie.

Yellow bells is the perfect name for this cutie.

With a few more days of dry weather predicted before the return of showers, I made a last minute decision to head down to the Rogue Valley for the annual rock garden plant sale of NARGS member Kathy Allen on Wednesday, April 20th. While it is worth the 3-hour drive just to see her amazing garden and shop for rock garden treasures you can’t find anywhere else, I always try to get in some hiking, especially since the bloom season in southwestern Oregon is always ahead of ours in Lane County. After a delightful shopping trip and an afternoon hike on Medford’s Roxy Ann Peak at Prescott Park, I had a chance to attend a fun meeting of the local NARGS chapter and see a number of my friends from the group as well as the speaker, Malcolm McGregor, a British expert gardener and author of a terrific book on saxifrages. I had taken him out botanizing years ago on a previous trip to the US, so it was great to see him again. Read the rest of this entry »

NARGS Annual Campout Hike to Grizzly Peak

For this year’s annual camping trip, my friend Kelley Leonard, of the Siskiyou Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, planned a great trip in their neck of the woods, near Ashland. We had perfect weather, no mosquitos, and, in spite of the severe drought they are having down south, there were lots of beautiful wildflowers. Since I was up in Portland earlier in the week (speaking to the Columbia-Willamette chapter of NARGS and hiking at Table Rock Wilderness—a trip unfortunately severely curtailed by another flat tire), I wasn’t able to join everyone until Friday afternoon. They got back from Hobart Bluff just as I was arriving, but I was steered toward some meadows just down the road from our campground at Hyatt Lake and had a lovely few hours (being antisocial!) chasing butterflies with my camera and admiring unfamiliar plants, including California stickseed (Hackelia californica), toothed owl-clover (Orthocarpus cuspidatus ssp. cuspidatus), and gorgeous Roezli’s penstemon (Penstemon roezlii), along with lots of buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.).

Toothed owl-clover, Roezl's penstemon, and sulphur buckwheat on near the east side of Hyatt Lake.

Toothed owl-clover, Roezl’s penstemon, and sulphur buckwheat near the east side of Hyatt Lake.

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Spring Comes Exceptionally Early to Grizzly Peak

A few spring whitlow grass (Draba verna) are hardly noticeable, but en masse they are quite pretty.

A few spring whitlow grass (Draba verna) are hardly noticeable, but en masse they are quite pretty.

Last Tuesday (April 15), I went down to southern Oregon for a quick but rewarding trip. Almost every year, I’ve gone down in mid-April to shop at a fantastic rock garden plant sale put on by one of the NARGS members in the area. Sadly, this is going to be her last sale, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to buy some more gems for my rock garden (many to replace those that didn’t make it through the tough winter). I was also in luck that a quilting store in Ashland was just starting their going-out-of-business sale, so I was able to stock up on batik fabric for my new-found creative passion, quilting. I always get in as much botanizing as I can squeeze into two days while I’m in the area, but I never expected I would have the opportunity to get up to Grizzly Peak so early in the year. With the trailhead  at 5200′ and the peak—such as it is—at 5900′, it is usually covered with snow in April, but from what I hear, there has been almost snow in the area, and they’ve missed much of the rain we’ve had farther north in February and March.

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Seed Season at Grizzly Peak

With the summer almost over, earlier this week (September 16), I finally made it down to southern Oregon. After a day of plant shopping and visiting with friends from NARGS, I spent another day up on Grizzly Peak. Most of the flowers are gone, but there are plenty of seeds and other interesting things to see, and I really enjoy any chance I get to see the unusual plants that show up at the southern end of the Western Cascades.

Red baneberry (Actaea rubra) is especially common at the southern end of the Western Cascades. Its showy fruit adds a lot of color to the forest this time of year.

Last year, Kelley Leonard and I were excited to see some double-flowered Delphinium glaucum in one of the large patches near the beginning of the trail (see Double Delphiniums). It appeared they were actually creating seed, and instead of the usual three follicles per flower, there were many more. Double flowers tend to be sterile, so it would be very lucky to find fertile seeds. This time, it didn’t take me long to spot several double-flowered plants, even though there were only a few flowers left at the tops of some of the tall inflorescences. Unfortunately, the doubles are in fact sterile. They had formed clusters of follicles, but they were all shriveled up. In contrast, the normal flowers were setting copious amounts of seeds in their fully formed follicles. Even these, I’ve had trouble growing. Someone, maybe slugs, always eats the tiny seedlings of these and every other Delphinium I’ve tried to grow. But there’s always hope. A plant this beautiful is worth numerous tries to get it established in the garden. Read the rest of this entry »

Double Delphiniums

Delphinium glaucum

Normal type on the left for comparison. The spurs of the doubles were unusual too, practically missing in some and short and twisted in others.

Here is a photo of some fully double Delphinium glaucum that were blooming on Grizzly Peak in Ashland on Monday. My friend Kelley spotted them while I was taking photographs. There were at least 3 plants mixed in with a large regular population near the end of its bloom season. They were forming seed capsules, but we didn’t find any as large as the ones on the regular plants, so maybe they won’t be viable. But then again, there were several plants scattered about, so I don’t know how else they were propagating. Maybe the population is genetically prone to doubles.

They were attracting lots of butterflies and a clearwing (hummingbird) moth. The day before, at Hershberger Mountain, there were oodles of hummingbirds in a large stand of Delphinium glaucum. How I wish I could grow this at home! My seeds germinate, but they always get eaten by slugs or someone. I pressed one stalk for the OSU Herbarium. I don’t see how anyone can press a plant that can be 8 feet tall (I measured one this high!).

Pollinator Party at Grizzly Peak

Great spangled fritillary

Great spangled fritillary on double delphinium (see next post for more on the delphiniums!)

My last trip of the year to Grizzly Peak turned out to be more about insects than plants. I can’t remember ever seeing such a variety of insects in one day. Kelley and I should have realized what a good insect day it was going to be when we met a bee expert in the parking area as soon as we arrived. We had seen some enormous bumble bees on our previous trip in late June, so we were sure he was in the right place for his research.

Along with bees, Grizzly Peak is an excellent site to look for butterflies. We saw quite a few as we passed through the various habitats. The gorgeous and statuesque Delphinium glaucum might not appear to be attractive to butterflies, but large butterflies that can reach their proboscis into the long spurs seemed exceedingly pleased with the stands blooming in openings in the woods near the beginning of the trail. We saw Western tiger swallowtails, anise swallowtails, great spangled fritillaries—both the golden brown males and the striking females with their deep chocolate brown and contrasting cream-bordered wings. There were even a few skippers and a clearwinged bee-like moth.

female blue copper on Eriogonum sphaerocephalum

My favorite of the day were the lovely female blue coppers. Their caterpillar host plant is Eriogonum, no shortage of sustenance for them there with four different species. The most unusual is Eriogonum sphaerocephalum, an East side plant. It is found in the burned western end of the summit. The female coppers were nectaring on these buckwheats. I love the subtle beauty of both of their gold-tinged colors and how they work so well together. The female, like many coppers, is brown on top, while the upperside of the stunning male is vibrant blue. You can tell the male blue copper from true blues by the prominent black veins across the blue.

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