Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rain and Smiles

"Don't rain on my parade!" We all know the expression, but the clouds chose not to listen. The Memorial Day Parade went through downtown Coupeville on Saturday and despite the rain, many smiling spectators lined up along Main Street and Front Street to show their support for the community. The parade opened with the Northwest Junior Pipe Band and included veterans, local businesses, candidates, schools and many community groups. Memorial Day on Whidbey Island would not be complete without this long-standing tradition.

After several rainy days here at the Reserve, the sky now looks brighter and the rain has stopped. Silvery droplets still cling to the leaves of the wild roses and the bees fly among the fragrant pink flowers, stopping frequently to drink nectar from the yellow centers.

The rain hasn't stopped me from smiling and I can only imagine it has been good for the fields with their rich, chocolaty brown soil and neat rows of recently-sprouted squash leaves. In other fields, the bright yellow of the cabbage plants is already beginning to fade, reminding me that whatever the weather, the season keeps changing and summer really is on its way. Finally, the sun found a hole in the clouds and shines through the window, warm on my face, to keep me smiling for awhile longer.

Photos and post by Sierra Young

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cabbage Seeds

I arrived in Coupeville on Monday to work at Ebey’s Landing as a summer ranger. I was struck by the large field across from the Sunnyside Cemetery where huge sprigs of bright yellow make even a foggy, rainy day seem bright. The yellow flowers are so dense I barely see the green of their stems and leaves. Cabbage plants, I learn, are grown here on Whidbey Island for their seeds, which are sold to markets all over the world. In fact, Washington State supplies 75% of U.S. production and 50% of the world production of cabbage seed.

At the end of one of the rows stands a stack of boxes painted white. Bees fly (somewhat slowly on a cool day like today)in and out of these hives. They share an important relationship with the cabbage plants. The bees fly through the field of flowers and get nectar which they use to make honey while pollinating the cabbage plants, thus allowing them to grow their valuable seeds.

When I travel to Germany and eat sauerkraut, I will remember the bright yellow field at Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve and consider how plants, though seemingly immobile, can connect places and people over thousands of miles.

Note: No cabbage was damaged in the taking of these photographs.

Photos by John Chao and Steve Olson
Post by Sierra Young

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Painting a prairie spring portrait

All over Washington, the earth is reawakening. Can you see it?

In a period of only a few weeks, spring has come, a monumental paintbrush caressing the landscape, stirring it back to consciousness. Dabs of bright white, pink and yellow compliment deeper streaks of lavender, red and orange, all placed upon a backdrop of fresh green. Buds change to blooms on wildflowers and the hardier of the tree species sport new-growth fuzz.

As part of the 17,500-acre Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, the 3.5-mile Ebey's Bluff trail provides a vivid representation of western Washington shoreline plants in spring. Located on central Whidbey Island, this trail is one of many that provides an opportunity to see both the natural and agricultural communities come alive this new season.

I have created a photographic guide to some of the spring wildflowers just now blooming on Ebey's Bluff and Ebey's Prairie. I have created this guide based on the plants' family common names, followed by the plant common name and latin name, in order for easier identification to those who enjoy field guide identification. Enjoy this spring on Ebey's Prairie and see how many of these beautiful colors you can find in your own backyards, as well as new spring additions.

ASTER FAMILY – Asteraceae

Common dandelion Taraxacum officinale

FERN FAMILY – Polypodiacea

Bracken fernPteridium aquilinum

LILY FAMILY – Liliaceae

Common camasCamassia quamash

Death camasZygadenus venenosus

PEA FAMILY – Fabaceae

Seashore lupine - Lupinus littoralis

PINE FAMILY – Pinaceae

Douglas fir - Pseudotsuga menziesii ssp. menziesii

PINK FAMILY – Caryophyllaceae

Field chickweed - Cerastium arvense


Brittle prickly pear cactus - Opuntia fragilis


Alaska violet Viola langsdorfii

This post provided by Kelsi Franzen. All photos courtesy by and copyright 2010, Kelsi Franzen. They may not be printed or used without permission.