Rhododendrons in Bloom

It’s the middle of March and I am thrilled to see that so many flowers are blooming right now: Cherry Blossoms, Flowering Plums, Daffodils, Camellias—the usual early bloomers, AND the Rhododendrons! We had a spat of very mild temps recently and that really helped in the blooming department! I made another trip to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. I’m keeping my eyes on the Magnolias, but they haven’t made their announcement to the world, yet. Shouldn’t be too much longer now. But this week’s post is primarily about rhododendrons. They are really making a showing now!

I found this pink Drumstick Primula blooming as well.

Here are some blue Primulas in bloom.

And, of course, we can’t forget the lovely Camellia!

Let’s take a peek inside the Rutherford Conservatory. Here are some of the tropical/subtropical Rhododendron species that are in bloom.

And last, but not least, the spring Pleione Orchids are in bloom.

The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind in the world. It is located in a native Pacific Northwest wooded setting, located in Federal Way, Washington, just off Hwy 18. Also on site is the Rutherford Conservatory that hosts the tropical species. The garden will be bursting with blooms now through May, and not just with rhododendrons, although that is the primary species. In May, a Blue Poppy Day is held, with many festive activities and arts. There is an $8 entry fee to the garden, with a discount for seniors. A yearly membership is also available. Oh, did I forget to mention? The garden is open Tuesday-Sunday and closed on Mondays.

All photo property of Peggy A Thompson

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February’s Early Blooms

Signs of an early spring abound with a few flowers peeping out here and there. I visited my favorite botanical garden, the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, located in Federal Way, Washington. I was surprised to see so many rhododendrons already in bloom! Here are a few images of what you can find right now in the main garden.

I came across some lovely, pink, double-petaled Hellebore.

These white blooms are Ypsilandra thibetica, an evergreen perennial native to China.

I just love these yellow Mahonia flowers! They will later be replaced by dark berries.

One of my favorite spots in the garden is the Stumpery. Here you can experience a real woodsy, earthy setting. Many species of ferns abound here along with other woodland plant species, as well as rhododendrons.

In the Rutherford Conservatory, where the tropical rhododendron species are housed, are many beautiful blooms right now. Here are a few sample images.

The botanical garden is open daily except for Mondays. Visit their webpage above for more info.

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

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Winter Blooms

It’s been so long since my last post, and I am sorry to say that I had completely forgotten about my blog over the holidays! I did have a few opportunities to visit some botanical conservatories in the area in December and January, and so that is what I will be highlighting. All of the photos below were taken in the Rutherford Conservatory, at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. All are of tropical Rhododendron species, with the exception of the last image.

This last image is of a Gordonia bloom, which is related to the Camellia. It is sometimes informally referred to the “Fried Egg Flower” due to it’s yellow and white colors.

All photos property of Peggy A Thompson

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The Leaves are Falling Down

Prime, autumn leaf color has come and gone. There are still some leaves hanging on the trees, but many species have already dropped theirs, although in some areas where sunlight is sparse, color changes are still happening. I fear this may be my last blog post with colorful leaf images. The weather will be turning bad quickly, with lots of rain and wind in the forecast. What leaves are left hanging will probably be blown off.

I visited Point Defiance Park this week and walked through the Japanese garden area, my favorite spot in the park during the autumn season. The Japanese Maples were all but bare, with mostly withered leaves hanging on, as you can see below.

Other Maple varieties still had some showing power, while others were still green.

What I really was interested in was to see if the Ginkgo leaves had turned their golden yellow. I was not disappointed in the least.

It’s always fun to look down at the ground and find all kinds of colorful leaf species mixed together. I like to just randomly take pictures of them.

Here’s a shot I couldn’t resist: two, red Maple leaves hanging at the end of a bare branch.

Also in the garden I came across this large, leafy plant that had just started blooming. I don’t know the name of it, but the blooms are very interesting looking, almost like little starbursts.

Post script: The name of this plant species is Fatsia japonica.

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All images property of Peggy A Thompson



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Autumn Leaves and Gnarly Branches

Late October is this year’s best time to view autumn’s peak performance in the color department in my area. Some foliage has already dropped their leaves, leaving branches bare, while others have not quite fully morphed into their deepest autumn colors. This is Mother Nature’s way of extending her color performance for us as long as possible.

One of the best places to capture colors of the autumn season is in a Japanese garden. If your local area has one, take the time to visit. These gardens are magnificent in color this time of year, and are prime material for the nature photographer. A modest sized garden usually has various species of Japanese Maples that exhibit the best samples of autumn color, anywhere. Not only color, but form and structure, as the images below will tell.


All images property of Peggy A Thompson

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