I saw many plants I’m familiar with on this tour. Some I knew the names of, others I was like, “Uh… what was your name again?” Fortunately, the plants were labeled or the person whose garden it was could tell you.
These honeysuckle blossoms are pretty but they are on an introduced plant that has been so successful it’s considered invasive in some parts of the country. These tall shrubs are growing along the Deschutes River and they produce a lot of berries later in the summer.
I noticed this crazy quilt of colors along the shores of Little Lava Lake in September. The sedges and rushes varied in their color and had interesting forms. It was almost as if they formed a single living organism.
Is this Mendel’s garden? I think the Gene Jeannie has been at work in my backyard. I planted one purple and white lupine and it has multiplied. Now I have a violet and purple one, two purple and white ones, a violet and white one, and an all white one.
There are certain members of the plant and animal world that I call successful invaders. Some are admired; others are reviled. A few are both liked and despised at the same time.
Where I live, the Western juniper, Juniperus occidentalis, fits into that last category. It is a native species but due to fire suppression and habitat destruction, it has spread like -excuse the reference- wildfire. Juniper has taken advantage of the situation and has significantly expanded its range. I have heard a lot about how much water it can suck out of the landscape – supposedly 30 gallons a day. Its root system taps downwards and outwards to effectively use the available water. Many people don’t like them for that reason and because at times they have a not-so-pleasant scent. I’ll always remember listening to a person that lives in the wealthy part of town saying that she eliminated all 18 junipers on her property as soon as she moved in. Eighteen trees.
However, juniper also has its good side. As it ages it epitomizes the image many people associate with the Wild West. I love to photograph them. The form of the tree generally changes from a pyramid-like shape to a twisted, sprawling irregular one. It can be covered by purplish berries (that are really cones) and these are used in gin production. Wildlife loves it for cover, nesting, and food. Its wood is bi-colored and long lasting.
In late October I visited the Indian Ford Preserve, which is located several miles northeast of Sisters, Oregon, with Deschutes Land Trust (DLT) leader Kelly Madden. This is the flagship property of the group and it was purchased in 1995. Preserves are purchased outright, donated, or are protected through easement agreements with the owners. This property is 63 acres in size and consists of meadow, forest, and stream habitat. Indian Ford Creek meanders through the property. It is on the border of land dominated by Ponderosa pine or Western juniper.
Last week I went on a Metolius Preserve hike with the Deschutes Land Trust (DLT). This 1,240 acre preserve is located about ten miles west of Sisters, OR and was acquired by the DLT in 2003.
Ponderosa pine trees dominate the landscape but there are also Douglas fir, grand fir, incense cedar, and western larch trees. The pine trees near the kiosk are spaced about 30-40 feet apart and bunchgrass forms the dominant ground cover. Though the habitat appears natural, the forest has been restored with the help of Pacific Stewardship. The forest has been thinned and prescribed burns will foster an old-growth type of habitat. They have even created snags so that some of the 13 types of woodpeckers that live here find a good place to feed and nest. DLT also planted bunchgrass.
If you type “John C. Frémont” into a search engine, you will turn up places named after him in over a dozen states in the U.S. So who was this guy and why were so many things named after him? To find out, I visited the Deschutes Historical Museum in Bend, Oregon to see their current exhibit about Frémont. The Museum was lucky to get the exhibit and it will be on display there until the end of December 2015.
This exhibit focuses on Frémont’s Second Exploring Expedition that occurred in 1843-1844. Many consider it to be the apex of his career. The purpose of this trip was to explore the Oregon country. Frémont, together with 27 handpicked men, including the explorer Kit Carson, set out to map the second half of the Oregon Trail.
I had several comments on my Facebook page about how to caption the tree photo I posted here a couple of days ago. If I was guessing what was going on, I might have said, “Tree Hugging 101 class”. Here are captions from Facebook:
“Black Legged Sap Sucker – very rare, and that’s for sure”.
Lady sniffing tree. “Yes Harry, this is the tree that farted”
“Stand back, hide behind a tree and maybe the grizzly bear and the black legged sap sucker won’t notice us”.
“My first boyfriend wrote our initials on one of these trees”.
The thing that was really happening in the photo was that a volunteer naturalist at the High Desert Museum was leading a walk and he had people smelling the Ponderosa pine’s bark. It has a sweet cinnamon-like smell.