My basic protocol was to fill a sterilized 4″ pot with a soil-free mixture of 2 parts coir, 1 part perlite, 1 part vermiculite. I then planted the seeds and put the pots outside under a hardware cloth cover to get scarification over the winter.
Note that you should be able to do scarification in the refrigerator; I’ll be experimenting more with that in the 2023-24 season. For my first attempt, I wanted to keep everything as “natural” as possible.
When I checked my native seed pots in mid February, I had some sprouts starting! At around this time, I brought the pots in and put them under grow lights in the garage (about 50F).
By 3/7 they had 2-4 true leaves, and I split them into multiple 2 and 4″ pots (scooping out small clumps of seedlings with a fork and transferring them as intact as possible), and added native yarrow seeds.
Most paintbrush species are hemiparasitic: they can do their own photosynthesis, but they get a boost from their neighbors. I had encountered a reference indicating that they could be grown with native yarrow, which is convenient because yarrow is an extremely fast sprouter.
The yarrow sprouted in less than a week, and they really started to take off.
I up-potted into 4″ and gallon pots over the next two months. I moved them back outside sometime in April, probably late April.
I got my first bloom at the beginning of June!
This was a lovely surprise, because I had thought that I would have to wait until the next year to get any blooms.
As it turned out, most of the Paintbrush plants wound up blooming, probably because of the boost they got from their time under grow lights through early spring.
Another unexpected and pleasant surprise was how long the flowers lasted. That initial flower was still going strong 3 weeks later. I think it lasted a good month.
The other paintbrush plants started blooming in late July.
Some paintbrush plants are biennial, some are perennial. I think these are perennial, so I will plant them out in a meadow area this autumn, and hope they come back next year.
One more planting note: these are listed as full sun, but we really don’t have full sun available; the best I could do was 6 hours of direct sun, with shade the rest of the day.
That probably wasn’t optimal, but it was enough to get blooming plants!
Let me know if you have questions! If you decide to give them a try, good luck!
It’s a good creek, year-round, but at this time of year it is made up of pools connected by a trickle of water. It’s a good time to put out the game cam, and see who’s around.
We knew we would see raccoons and coyotes; what we did not expect to see was a beaver!
We knew that the creek had beavers — an old map of the creek marks a beaver dam farther upstream, and a couple years ago a beaver came up a seasonal offshoot in March and took out a few aspen seedlings and a bunch of ferns.
That was a thrill (once we got over the aspens), but the creek was running high, and beavers can come quite a ways when there is water.
There is not currently much water… the photo above is taken from the middle of the creek bed.
We’re not sure where the beavers are living, but it can’t be very far. We adjusted the position of the game cam the next night, and got a number of good shots of the beaver hauling salmonberries home for the winter.
Yesterday, we discovered that the beaver had moved on to larger prey.
It took out not one, but two, 10-20 year old Big Leaf Maples.
They were nice trees, but in a somewhat awkward place, so we weren’t broken-hearted, but we’ll be doing a review of other trees close to the creek.
I might also don waders and go down the creek a bit, see whether I can find the den. Given how hard it’s foraging in our backyard, it can’t be coming that far!
The garden is burgeoning with the start of summer.
I spent a couple hours yesterday adding a bunch of stakes to the garden, so that things don’t all flop over in the next few weeks. For a little while it will look a little goofy, until the garden grows into it.
This year I’m going to try keeping the potatoes trimmed a bit shorter, to try to keep them more compatible with the flowers. We grow Makah Ozette potatoes, which are yummy and grow into a glorious jungle… but left to their own devices, that glorious jungle grows 4′ tall and tips over.
The late-spring flowers are still going. Some of the foxgloves are getting rather gawky, but this little cluster is still lovely.
The valerian has been blooming for a couple weeks now. This one is taller than I am, and smells very sweet. The pollinators love it!
I was trying to catch this Tiger Swallowtail, and only noticed the solitary bee after the fact.
The first breadseed poppy opened yesterday. I’m looking forward to the flush of early-summer color!
We’re easing from early spring into mid spring here.
The first Pacific Trilliums opened about a week ago. Over the next month or two they’ll go from pristine white to a gentle, dusky pink, as the blossoms age.
If you ever see a trillium of any sort in the woods, please do not pick it. It’s a bulb, and those three pretty leaves providing a backdrop for the flower are the only leaves it will ever get.
If you pick it, it will either die, or — best case! — grow a tiny little set of leaves next year. There won’t be a flower for several years. Common wisdom says seven years, but I’m not going to do a test on this one.
Our earliest rhodie just opened. The next two months will be a glorious march of rhododendrons here. We have a native rhodie, and it has been hybridized with a number of Asian varieties to give a glorious range of rhodies that thrive in our climate.
We got a delivery of soil (manure and sand), and have been topping off the garden beds. I’ll be direct-seeding poppies and some other things in the next few days.
I also have way too many seedlings under grow lights right now. Figuring out when to plant them out is always a challenge!
I love this time of spring: more and more flowers blooming; more and more birds singing. The spring chorus has definitely started here, with the Pacific Wren the most melodious virtuoso. There are still a few types of birds we’re waiting on.
I try to get out for a morning walk with Merlin to see who’s in town.
The wood ducks arrived a couple weeks ago. They’re definitely our showiest migrant.
Based on last year’s bird list, we’re still expecting Pacific Slope Flycatchers, warblers of many types, and Western Tanagers.
Because I’m very reliant on song for the flycatchers and warblers, it’s possible that they’re already here, and just haven’t started singing yet. The Pacific Wrens live here year-round, but they barely sing in the winter.
Either way, I’m looking forward to the burgeoning chorus!
Having been both careful and lucky for nearly three years of pandemic, my care and luck ran out at the beginning of the month.
I had a work trip in Louisiana, my third work trip in six months. I had skated through the first two, masking at the airport and on the airplane but taking some risks once there.
I did the same in this case… but this time, one of the other attendees brought the plague, and half of the attendees were sick the following week. Including me.
I got home Friday evening, and felt the first bit off Saturday evening. Sunday morning, 2/5, it was clear that I had something.
I thought it was either a head cold or RSV. Rob suspected otherwise, as witnessed by the label he added to this photo of me napping Sunday afternoon. I had a minor fever (99.7) when I went to bed Sunday night.
I tested positive first thing Monday, although it still mostly felt like a head cold. Still a bit of a fever (99.8, with a high of 100.5). I napped a lot, but didn’t feel too bad.
By Tuesday, I was able to work a part day, but still napped in the afternoon.
Wednesday, I was able to work a part day, and failed to nap in the afternoon — clear sign that I was on the mend. I felt about 80% in terms of brain and energy.
Thursday, I worked a full day, felt about 90%.
Friday, I tested negative, and nudged above 90%.
By the following Monday, I was aaalmost back to normal. Since then (almost another week now), I have battled the notorious lingering cough.
I’ve been taking dextromethorphan to try to prevent my lungs from becoming irritated by gratuitous coughing. I have also been masking a lot — that little pocket of humidity helps a lot. And hydrating, of course.
My chest still feels a bit tight, and I’m not sure what lung imaging would show. I’m definitely being careful not to push myself physically; my big fear is getting Long COVID.
At present, I feel like myself plus a cough. Is my energy a tad low? I think so. Is my brain a little creaky? Possibly.
Overall, I think I’ve fared fairly well, but it isn’t an experiment that I’m keen to repeat. The actual acute phase wasn’t bad for me (fully vaxxed and boosted!), but this lingering impact is worrisome.
Hopefully in a couple more weeks I’ll truly be back to normal. We’re getting on to spring and gardening season, and I want to be feeling my best!
Update: the lingering cough lingered until around March 6th, so a full month from first symptoms. That said, I’m prone to lingering coughs, and it felt like the same general type of lingering coughs that I get from colds.
My sense of smell was impacted for a week, maybe two. It never went away completely, thank goodness.
I’ll try not to do this experiment again for a goodly while.
After an unusually mild January, we just started a bit of a cold snap. That means hair ice (frost flowers)!
Larger sticks can “grow” longer hair ice, but small sticks sometimes have especially pretty formations — especially if it wasn’t especially cold. This was a fairly small stick.
This is a much larger stick — really a branch, maybe 3-4″ diameter. The length of frost grown is comparable in this case, but the result isn’t as spectacular.
However, it shows off the way the frost grows quite nicely!
Sometimes the tiniest sticks produce the prettiest formations — because you can actually see them!
In a big, fluffy formation, it can be hard to see the individual strands of frost.
This formation is on a tiny stick at the side of the driveway.
By contrast, here’s a frost flower that looks like a piece of cotton wool. It’s neat, but also hard to see enough detail to truly appreciate it.
I’ll close out with one that puts the “hair” in “hair ice”. They really do look like powdered ringlets! That’s because as the ice grows, it has a slight curve in one direction, resulting in a curl 🙂