Big-leaf maples (Acer macrophyllum)
Summer is marked by long days. On the first day of summer, we had over 16 hours between sunrise and sunset. The high angle of the summer sun clears the tall cedars on our southern property line and shines on my front yard where my raised garden beds lay. But, down in the woods, the deciduous maple and alder trees have leafed out and closed up most of the breaks in the evergreen canopy. Even in this relatively dry season, the morning (or all day) fog often rolls in and softens whatever sunlight makes it through the trees. So, there is still a lot of shade.
Red alder leaves (Alnus rubra)
Walking through the woods, we find that the evergreen Sword ferns that cover most of the forest floor have been joined by some deciduous Bracken fern along the edges of the bluff.
Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
On this particular walk at the end of June, there was a pair of Wilson's warblers following me and fussing for quite a ways along the trail.
The real changes are on the edge of the forest. The early summer flowers are now turning into fruit.
Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana) in June
Nootka rose hip in August
There are berries in late June and early July. The Salmonberry plants have lovely pink flowers and orange berries. The plants were first identified for western science by Meriwether Lewis on the banks of the Columbia in 1806, but of course they were already well-known by all northwestern coastal tribes. Interesting trivia: the ripening of Salmonberries has been associated with the song of the Swainson's thrush which was called the "Salmonberry bird."
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)
Elderberry bushes grow quickly. A single year's new growth on stems can be 4 ft or more. For human consumption, the berries need to be cooked, although good luck getting to them before the birds finish them off.
Elderberries (Sambucus racemosa)
Then, there are the berries of August. Many of the Red huckleberry bushes I've found are growing out of nurse stumps or soils with lots of decaying wood.
Red huckleberries (Vaccinium parvifolium)
This huckleberry specimen is sharing the top of its nurse stump with Salal. Salal can form impenetrable thickets in the understory of the forest. The "berries" (actually fleshy sepals) were important food for native peoples. The evergreen leaves are now gathered for florists. Salal was taken to Britain in 1828 by David Douglas for use as an ornamental in English gardens.
Salal fruit (Gaultheria shallon)
And that's not to mention OceanDiver's blackberries
of which we have a few too. I was particularly delighted to discover a patch of Blackcap raspberries (Rubus leucodermis
). Between my picking and the Robins, I didn't manage to get any photos of these berries on the vines (I don't like to use my camera with juicy purple fingers).
Now, it's your turn! What's happening in your backyard or wherever else you are out and about on these last days of summer? I be around to respond to comments as soon as morning arrives on the west coast (which is getting later every day).
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