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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Washington's State Flower is Mildew!

Or so said Frasier Crane on an episode of "Fraiser."  Turns out, he's not the only one and a quick web search will yeild quite a few others saying this.  Truth is, Rhododendron macrophyllum is Washington's state flower but it only blooms once a year while the mildew and it's cousins moss and lichens stay interesting year round.  While I'm not a huge fan of mildew, I do quite enjoy moss and lichens. 
 

I don't know the name of this beautiful moss but I sure enjoy seeing it covering branches!

It's not quite as dramatic as the beautiful Spanish Moss hanging from Live Oaks in the Southeast  but it's still lovely!
On those gray winter days, this bright color glows against  the brooding evergreens.

There is a grove of our native oak, quercus garryana, beside a road that I used to travel on my daily commute.  This area  was once an oak prarie.  I always admired this lovely stand of trees in the winter but never photographed it.   
 

A recent drive took me back to this area and fortunately, I had my camera and a little time.

My pictures don't do justice to the glow of the moss.  I'll definitely go back on a day when the sky is blue to see if that helps.

Unfortunately,  much of this grove will be cut down to make way for a new highway.  The highway will be a good thing  but I'll miss these beautiful old moss-covered oaks which seem to bloom all winter long. There is a similar stand of these close to Interstate 5 in the southern part of the state. If you've ever traveled from Washington to Oregon on I 5, you've probably seen them.








 
 
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree. 


 
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;


A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;



 A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.


Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
 
"Trees" by Joyce Kilmer (1886 - 1910)



 


 

I feel fortunate to have beheld and enjoyed this grove. 









23 comments:

  1. I have never seen a moss covered tree before and now I know I have missed something special. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous, this is as beautiful, although quite different, from ice covered branches. Yours have a haunted, ethereal quality to them, stunning!

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary(oh photographically gifted one) The pictures are lovely but the almost flourescent glow of the light moss must be seen in person or photographed by someone with more skill than I to really shine through. The whisps of fog at dawn on this morning sure helped with the ethereal quality.

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  2. Oh My Goodness! So pretty! I understand your worrying that the picture doesn't do them justice, but you come close. As a local, I know how interesting all our wonderful moss and lichen covered trees are in person! They're actually (to me) so much more beautiful than frost-covered or snow-covered anything. What a tremendous loss that they will be cut down. That makes me sad.

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    1. There located on 176th at the end of Spanaway Loop Road. (Where the future cross base highway will go) If you're ever out that way, check them out! There is a huge one closer to Parkland (still on SLR) that dwarfs the house over which it towers, covered with dark moss with the light stuff on the outer branches like these and with ferns growing from the moss. I'm thinking that there's some sort of microclimate there that favors this sort of thing.

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  3. Wow, they are beautiful and mysterious oaks. The texture and color in your photos shows through quite well.

    It's sad to see such beautiful stands of trees go away, hope they have saved some in a park.

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    1. There ae probably more around as most of this land is currently part of the Fort Lewis military reservation. It is sad to see them go as this is our only native oak in Washington. They're not the kind of tree that you'd want in a nice neat suburban setting with their rather wild looks but they make spooky silhouettes against the autumn and winter sky.

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  4. The mossy/lichen covered trees are the only good thing about that drive up I-5 (well maybe along with a stop at Tsugawa nursery and seeing what that right-wing wacko has on his big sign).

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    1. Not such a big a fan of the factory outlet stores in Centrailia? I love this drive as I'm usually sharing it with someone fun, I always pack snacks for the road so we don't waste nursery time stopping for lunch, and the anticipation of great discoveries at the highway 30 trifecta puts me in a giddy state. On the way back, there's the satisfaction of having a vehicle full of plants and planning where to put them. If it's June, there's always a flat of fresh picked strawberries from Sauvie island to enjoy. Don't forget that funky roadside artwork that includes Alaska's Flag. Still don't know why that's there but I notice it every time.

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  5. This moss is nice, but not for trees:(( I think they are dieing.

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    1. That would be sad but what a beautiful way to go.

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  6. A lot of lichens! We have a lot of lichens here in Finland as well.

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    1. Lichens are wonderful and don't seem to mind the cold. We had them in Alaska too.

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  7. Wonderful shots...beautiful subjects.

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  8. Such a lovely poem. Wonderful shots of the moss on branches. When something catches our eye.
    Isn't it funny how many photos we take of the same thing in different positions and different aspects.
    Best Wishes
    Karen.

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    1. Thanks Karen. It's great to hear from you again. I took so many pictures of these trees that I got tired of wading through them and finally just grabbed a bunch and decided that they'd do.

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  9. Beautiful... Very sad that they will be cut down!

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    1. We've all gotta go sometime. They are beautiful, though.

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  10. You have made mildew look so beautiful! Wonderful photos of these trees.

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    1. Thanks Michelle. You should see what I can do with dryer lint and fungus.

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  11. Do you prefer the straight species of mildew or the cultivars?
    Very beautiful pictures.

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  12. thanks for share..

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.