“Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
― Hans Christian Andersen
Entering the Mount Rainier National Park from Hwy 410 you will find two hiking trails, Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak Loop Trail. These trails not only have the most fantastic views of Mt. Rainier, but also will bring you into a wildflower paradise from the end of July through September.
The meadows are dotted with Indian Paintbrush, Red Columbine, Western Pasque flower, Bear Grass, Asters, Pearly Everlasting, Cow Parsnip, Lupine, False Hellebore and many more.
Since fall is beginning many of these flowers have turned to seed. The Western Pasque Flower should still be waving it's feathery seed head.
Don't overlook this spectacular hike in the Autumn months. The Western Larch (Larix occidentalis) and Lyall Larch (Larix lyallii), the deciduous conifers in the area will be turning into their beautiful golden fall color.
Go enjoy the beauty of the Northwest. I'll be posting fall hike colors soon.
“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”

-Dr. Seuss (Oh, The Places You'll Go)
Sheep Lake, Chinook Pass via the Pacific Crest Trail
Do you ever have a moment when an image, song or smell brings you back to childhood. I had this experience while hiking around Chinook Pass Labor Day weekend. The wildflowers were out in full force. They were beautiful, magical and one particular flower stood out all weekend, the Western Pasque Flower (Anemone occidentalis). Its feather-like seed heads sent me back to childhood every time I passed one on the trail. The joyful memory of reading Dr. Seuss books was a vivid flashback seeing these blooms that resemble minature Truffula Trees.
After reading up on this plant I found some interesting meaning and symbolism behind Anemones.
  • The name anemone comes from the Greek word for “windflower, whose root word means "breathes" or "lives". (Secret of Wildflowers by Jack Sanders)
  • According to Greek mythology, the anemone sprang from Aphrodite’s tears as she mourned the death of Adonis, who was her lover.  (Secret of Wildflowers by Jack Sanders) 
  • Anemones are connected to magical fairies, who were believed to sleep under the petals after they closed for sunset. 
Whether you believe in mythology or magical fairies. One thing is true, these wildflowers will bring you back to the land of Dr. Seuss. 
“Catch! calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
It's a Truffula Seed.
It's the last one of all!
You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.”  

-Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
-William Blake

This week my hiking adventure lead me back to Tiger Mountain to Poo Poo Point via the Chirico Trail Head. This was a somewhat busy trail on a weekday afternoon. A switchback path bordered by a variety of native plants. False Solomon Seal, Oregon Grape and Hooker’s Fairybells were all fruiting.

As I approached the first open field a beautiful patch of Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) were in full bloom.  The golden color was a stunning contrast to the green surroundings. As I came closer to admire the flower I was amazed at the amount of life this lovely plant attracted.  Bee’s, butterflies, spider’s and beetles were easily spotted at first glance. It is truly surprising the expansive amount of habitat this wildflower supports. As we look closer into the beauty of the world it is import to understand the power of the wild blooms that delight the earth.

Goldenrod is said to bring good fortune, a good sense of humor and a possible sign of a buried treasure. Incorporate this flower into your yard and bring smiles to your garden.

Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
     The world of the flower, the whole of
     the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower, the truth
     of the blossom;
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.
-Zenkei Shibayama

Every week I make it a practice to spend some time in the forest. This is where I find my inspiration. This week's adventure took me to Cougar Mountain to visit a meadow restoration site.
I started at the Red Town trail head and followed the signs to the Meadow Restoration Project.
A giant smile crossed my face as I cornered the site. I was instantly transcended to a butterfly paradise. As I swiped a nearby bush with my leg at least 6 little butterflies flew off the plant. Almost as if they were saying "hello". Next, something caught my eye. I looked up and three groups of butterflies where dancing together in the sky.
It took me about two seconds to realize this restorative project was a success. There was small wildlife all around. Butterflies, dragonflies, birds, humming birds and bee's were clearly enjoying this meadow. Click on the link to learn more about this meadow restoration project: Seattle Times.
Directly outside the restoration project what a heap of information about meadows. What intrigued me most was a plant list of some of the species they used to populate this meadow: Red Columbine, Bleeding Heart, Cooley's Hedge-nettle, Great Camas, White Fawn Lily, Nodding Onion, Red Flowering Currant, Fringecup, Baldhip Rose, Serviceberry, and Garry Oak.
If you grow it they will come!
Take action and add wildlife loving plants into your garden. Northwest home dwellers can reference the plant list above.
"May your life be like a wildflower growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day"
-Native American proverb
I was hiking at Tiger Mountain  and came across this mysterious plant.
Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
I had no idea what kind of ghost-like flower I stumbled upon. My guess was a flowering fungus. I came to find out it's an herbaceous perennial plant called Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora). It has a white-like translucent color because it doesn't get its energy from direct photosynthesis, it steals its energy from fungi. The plant has a parasitic relationship with fungi known as myco-heterotophy. The connection gets even more complicated because the mycelium of the fungi has a symbiotic relationship with the roots of a tree. Essentially the Indian Pipe pulls its nutrients from the fungi who exchanges energy with the tree.  I found the relationship fascinating.

I ran into a similar situation on a hike off of Highway 410. This plant below has a partial myco-heterotroph relationship.
Western Prince's Pride (Chimaphila umbellata)
Western Prince's Pride keeps its green leaves year around. It is able to photosynthesize, but uses it's parasitic relationship with the fungi as a supplemental food supply.
This little pink flower has numerous medicinal and edible uses check out this link  www.pfaf.org to learn more. I was intrigued that this plant can be used to flavor root beer or in the preparation of a Mexican alcoholic drink called 'Navaitai'.
Cheers to all the plants that assist us in our celebratory needs...and to micro-heterotrophy!

"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness."
-   John Muir

Last week as I was hiking though the trails of Tiger Mountain
…..the pink bell shaped flowers of the Salal plant (Gaultheria shallon) continued to greet me with delight. The little fuzzy pink flowers brought a smile to my face. I traveled up to sunnier locations where the berries were beginning to appear and some even ready to eat.
If you are unfamiliar with this plant you should get to know it on your next hike. It’s very versatile and popular with the forest wildlife. Bee’s and butterflies flock to the flower. Bears and birds love the ripe berries. Enjoy the Salal berries yourself on your next adventure in the woods. They are ripe when the color has turned dark blue and taste similar to blueberries. Consider growing them in your garden.  It will bring urban wildlife to your yard and with its abundant fruit you might bake a salal berry pie.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
~Albert Einstein
I went on two great hikes this weekend. I headed over to Tiger Mountain Tradition Plateau. Tiger Mountain has numerous trials and it’s close to the city, only 35 minutes from my doorstep to trail head, AWESOME! First I checked out the Tradition Lake loop trail. This is a flat scenic 1.5 hike, great for kids! Along the way I snacked on a colorful variety of fresh berries: Salmonberries, Red Huckleberries and Salal Berries
At the end of the Traditional Lake Loop there's a trail head to Tiger West 3. A viewpoint trail overlooking Squak Mountain, the town of Issaquah, and Lake Sammamish.  The highlight, of course, was the wildflowers I found along the way: Cooley's Hedge-Nettle, Salal, and Self-heal.
Not to mention the small wildlife.
Get outside and let nature inspire!!
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing
Gardening puts a smile on my face each and every day.  When a butterfly crosses my path while I putter in the yard it brings me a tremendous sense of joy. I don’t tend to see as many butterflies in Seattle as I do when hiking east of the mountains. Most commonly I see Cabbage White butterflies and no, I am not a butterfly expert. I just found this great resource: Common Butterflies of the Puget Sound Region and Their Food Plants.  Click on the link and check it out.  This is where I found the name of the white butterflies I see fluttering around my vegetable garden. I am always trying to bring more wildflowers and wildlife to my yard. Here are a few white flowering plants that butterflies love:
Daisies, Yarrow, and Mock Orange.

For more info on starting a Butterfly Garden go the National Wildlife Federation Website
To find butterflies and nectar plants in your location check out: Gardens with Wings
You belong among the wildflowers,
You belong somewhere close to me.
Far away from your trouble and worries
You belong somewhere you feel free.
- Tom Petty, Wildflowers
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Definition of wild
1. (of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated.
  • (of people) not civilized; barbarous: the wild tribes from the north
2.  uncontrolled or unrestrained, especially in pursuit of pleasure.
Oxford Dictionary
Common Red Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)
Definition of flower
1.  the seed-bearing part of a plant, consisting of reproductive organs (stamens and carpels) that are typically surrounded by a brightly colored corolla (petals) and a green calyx (sepals).
Oxford Dictionary
Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon dubius)
Definition of wildflower
1.  a flower of an uncultivated variety or a flower growing freely without human intervention.
Oxford Dictionary
Red Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
Consider bringing your inner wild to the garden. Create an inviting space where bees and butterflies feel free!
Bring on the wildflowers!
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur  of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time."   -   John Lubbock

Today is a short post on the simple beauty a grass meadow can bring to the landscape.
Next time you find yourself walking upon an open field of grass take a moment........ Listen to the movement and pay close attention to the textures. Now it's time to lie in the sun.....and dream.