The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Anderson Lake – A Local Hike – More Flora

Peter and I checked out a local state park the other day, Anderson Lake.  It is a state park.  The park’s web page does not tell you  the lake is completely closed to fishing, swimming and non-motorized boat use due to a blue-green algae containing toxic cyanobacteria.   Called Anatoxin-a and a neuro-toxin, it’s linked to the deaths of humans and pets.  The level in Anderson lake was almost 1,000 times higher than recreational criteria allows.

The day was grey and a bit muggy.  The lake is 70 acres large and is surrounded by 410 wooded and wetland acres.  It’s a pretty spot. Five acres of trails lace through the park.  We walked around four+ I figure.





This post is about the flora. New to the PNW, I’m hungry for knowledge of my surroundings.  Snapping pics while out and about, I frequently look up plants and such once home.  Mind you, my info is gleaned from several reference books I have at home.  It’s not guaranteed correct. Please don’t go eating large quantities of something or using it for an unverified purpose without doing your homework.  Just have to throw that out there.

My favorite book is called Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar and Mackkinnon.  I find it divided into sections that are easy to navigate. Much info about plants’ cultural significance and practical uses are included.  This interests me.

Pond Lilies:  Most all parts of the plants were used for medicinal purposes by native Americans and First Peoples (of Canada):



The trails varied from well worn paths through thinned forest (the area’s been logged) to tunnels through thick foliage to open and grassy meadows.





Spotted mountain bike obstacles:


On one end of the lake we passed through thickets of blackberries.  Oh they are tasty! BTW, differentiate blackberries from raspberries this way:  If you pull off a berry and there is a divot into the center of the berry it’s a raspberry. If the berry end is flat, it is a blackberry.



I believe this is Nettle (didn’t touch it to find out) tucked into Horsetail.



Robert Geranium” – Sorry…a bit fuzzy.


Here’s a plant I’ve been noting but took awhile to look up.  Oceanspray  is also called Creambush.  They favor dry, open sites such as logged land, thickets, ravine edges and coastal bluffs.  Also know as Ironwood, the wood was once used for harpoon shafts, fishing hooks, and bows and arrows by numerous coastal groups.  The wood was heated to make it even stronger.  Sometimes the wood served as nails.  Come winter, the flowers will turn brown and remain on the plants through the season.



Hardhack (AKA Steeplebush) surprised me. I’ve never seen anything like it. Then again, being new to the PNW means I’ve many of these encounters of wonder.  These plants like damp spots next to lakes, streams, swamps and wet meadows.  It’s in the Spirea family.


Salmonberries:  Color varies from yellow to red.  I’ve noted their flavor to be mild.  Native peoples ate the berries as well as young stem sprouts (peeled and eaten raw or steamed). Quite watery, (almost mushy, I think) the berries weren’t dried but often mixed with other foods such as salmon spawn and grease.  I think the collar-like frill around the berry looks like  a crown. You can really see that on the red berry pic below.



Red Elderberry – Here’s another common sight I finally looked up. The berries are brilliant against the green foliage.  These like steam banks, moist forest clearings and swampy thickets. I note them on road sides a bunch.  An important food source for coastal Natives, the berries must be cooked before consumption or nausea can occur.  The leaves and woody parts of the plant contain cyanide and are toxic.


Nootka Rose:  Pete showed me how to turn the hips into tea once they are ready to be harvested. I’d like to try it.  These (thankfully) grow everywhere up here, especially in disturbed areas.  I just love the pretty pink flowers (these are darker pink than I’ve seen) in masses and grab a nose-full of scent when I can.


Indian Pipe: I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted this one.  This plant is fascinating.  It prefers shady, humus-rich soil in mature forests.  Having no chlorophyll means this plant  cannot make its own food.  Instead, the roots of this plant connect to tree roots via fungi.  Nutrients are taken from the tree.    Other names include Ice Plant, Ghost Flower and Corpse Plant.  Fascinating.  The plant blackens as it ages.


I don’t know mushrooms.  Yet.


Red Huckleberries:  It’s important to note there are other varietiwa of huckleberries.  I’ve come across Evergreen huckleberries on Vancouver Island.  I find the delicate, thin branches, pale green leaves and dainty red berries delightful.  Looking up through the bunch with sun filtering through is even more sweet.  Berries are edible though reportedly sour.  I haven’t tried any.  They like forests, especially ones rich with decaying wood.



Have you noted a trend?  “They like forests” I seem to tap out frequently.  How I’m loving learning about this ecosystem new to me.


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Spring Yard Flowers

Delayed but oh-so-pretty pics for your enjoyment—–

Spring turned my yard into a scented paradise with flora both new to me and familiar from past times.

The garden’s looking awfully pretty.   It’s raining now.  Pics to come later.


Two varieties of lilac perfumed the yard.  I’d come home from work at night and walk into a wall of scent.  I kept the house full of bouquets while I could.  Lilacs I associate with growing up in MN – esp. my maternal grandma’s yard.




Roses, on a huge bush (dwarfs my car, can it really be called a bush?) probably planted in the thirties when the house was put up.   The neighbor labeled it as BELLE of PORTUGAL in variety.  I could not pass without stopping for a sniff.  Oh they are lovely and thankfully not finished for the year.   A few buds linger, promising more.



Rhododendrons dot the yard.  This red one is huge.



A quince, tangled up in Himalayan Blackberry canes, sits behind the shed.  This yard has plenty of established flora.  Much love is needed to make up for several years of renters’ neglect.



The mysterious flowering tree was identified by my landlord as a pear tree.  The blooms were beautiful.  I’ve noted apples on local trees.  Already!  Today I’ll check for wee pear fruits.


One huge cherry tree now has fruit.  The birds are having a hay-day. Yesterday I watched with amusement as a chipmunk worked  away at a cherry.

Look up into the blooms:



They smelled fantastic.



Other long-term flora greeted me this summer including:  thimbleberries, foxglove, creeping buttercup, English Daisies and Poppies.  What a treat to potter about and tend a real yard. It’s been years.  The work is therapeutic.


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The Fledgling Garden



A Tale of a Fledgling Garden

First, start with a good looking guy, with a passion for gardening, who loves to work hard preparing soil.

The rental property I’m at has a couple terraces, once gardened, that were begging for rejuvenation.



Pete and I try our American Gothic pose:




Stern looks aren’t my thing.  Couldn’t hold this for long.



Peter being a skilled craftsman, a removable deer fence (which I call the “compound,”) was in the works.  You just can’t garden here without one.  Situated on a wooded ravine, this property is scenic and lush.  It also makes us stop number one on the deer-buffet circuit.  A beautiful arbor is now in place.



In went some seeds;  peas, favas, some lettuce and kale.




Potatoes went in (not fenced, they are left alone.)



I started some squash and pickling cucumber seeds indoors.  Can’t find the pic I took of the wee, sprouted plants.


My usual patient self was getting antsy for signs of life.  The first potato plant reassured me we were on to something.


Time lapsed, heres a peek at the garden a week or so ago.

The fence is up, we’ve added chives, dill, basil, peppers, onions, tomatoes (though they’re looking tough), various annuals (pansies, I’m a total sucker for them), nasturtiums, the cuke starts fed the slugs, pumpkin, herbs, bush beans, and more I’m forgetting.

I’ll snap some new pics for you all today.



I haven’t enjoyed a garden of this sort in 20 years.  Getting out and tending it is so therapeutic.

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Deer/Slugs/and stink that’s totally worth it

My gosh I haven’t posted in almost a month.

Posts delayed:  a piece on barnacles with fascinating photos, a few hikes with much new flora to learn of, a trip to see family in MN, a road trip to the south west corner of Vancouver Island, a couple knitting projects (one a Christmas gift so no spoiler pics of that), and my fledgling garden.

I haven’t had a real veggie garden since I was in college.  The first time.  20 years ago.  I’ve dabbled in potted flowers and herbs. This is the real thing folks.  My beau (he’s new too, and what a trajectory we are on) built the compound and a lovely arbor.  I call the fenced enclosure a compound because the deer are eating my yard to pieces.  Nothing’s safe.  Even “deer-proof” plants are nibbled on.  I’m running out of new expletives.  There’s a test to a new relationship, eh?  How well does a guy handle sudden shouts of agony from my finding another mowed-down pansy or marigold?  Tonight I thumbed my nose at em’ all.  My arsenal includes: deer spray (a sulfur-based potion), slug-luring pellets (minerals, magnesium?) and beer in cat food cans in the garden (works well).    I also applied worm tea tonight to the plants.   I caught a whiff of myself before changing out of my grubby clothes. Ew!

But it’s a good ew.

A couple weeks from solstice, it’s light until almost 9:30 PM. Incredible.  Was it light so late when I grew up in MN?  I don’t remember that.  Weather’s been absolutely lovely.  Some nights I stagger in after nine famished, tired, realizing I forgot to eat.

Blogging’s still on the to-do list.  I hope to share some photos with you this week.


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