The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

In Search of Rhododendrons – Fort Townsend

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The wild Pacific Rhododendron are in bloom down low. I hear they’re getting close above 3000′.  Liking filtered sunlight, they are especially happy along roadsides and forest margins.   Spindly arms dressed in pink blooms and fresh, pale green new leaves punctuate dark green woods and brighten up a gray day.   Our state flower, they can reach up to 8 meters tall.

I just love them!


We chose Fort Townsend State Park for our evening walk the other night knowing there’d be plenty. I’ve been on this particular trail, aptly named the Rhododendron Trail, minus the blooms.  Giddy with anticipation we set out.

From my estimate about 25% of the shrubs were in bloom with much more to come.

From emerging buds to partial blooms to full blossoms, all stages we enjoyed.

Wild honeysuckle is also in bloom. It smells so sweet. This is also called Western Trumpet Honeysuckle, I believe.

It’s such a privilege to live somewhere so beautiful.  Here, new Elderberry foliage fans out under a dark green background. Every value of green known to man must exist in PNW forests.

Out of focus elderberries, not yet ripe, and likely the red variety. These guys prefer moisture via stream banks, swampy areas and damp clearings. The berries are only palatable when cooked and may cause nausea when raw. Some make wine from the berries. The stems, roots, leaves and bark are toxic.

Thimbleberry blossoms symbol the seedy berries to come.  Some like them. Some don’t. I find them rather bland. Full of moisture, the berries tend to fall apart when picked. Native Americans apparently dried them and mixed them with other berries.

We’ve had great rain this spring, promoting a profusion of blooms. I’ll keep sharing them with you.


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