deer.jpgA few weeks ago, my husband and I jetted off to Seattle to visit my parents in their new home base of Sequim, Washington. Since it was early April and the balmy Pacific Northwest, the gardener in me expected lots of bloom! Well….there was not so much bloom yet, but man is it ever green with a capital G.

I was thrilled that it was raining in Seattle when we landed because this was my first time there, and it just would not have felt right if it wasn’t raining. On the bus ride from the airport to downtown (we needed to catch the ferry across Puget Sound from there), we saw plenty of forsythia in bloom – bold, bright, “in your face” yellow forsythia. A few dazzling cherry trees added color to the grey day too. And on the drive from the Bainbridge Island side of the ferry to Sequim, we saw daffodils as well, some naturalized and some in planted landscapes. But it was too early for much else.

forest.jpgI think what impresses me most about the Pacific Northwest area are the conifers. We’re talking Douglas firs that are hundreds of feet tall! They’re so tall that you can’t really get a good look at the needles for ID purposes, but they’re nice about dropping their easily identifiable cones all around. Often the ground around them in the forests is spongy with the debris that is always falling and then breaking down quickly into a nice layer of mulch. We have Douglas firs in Colorado as well, but they stay much smaller and don’t occur in rainforest-like conditions with moss hanging on their branches. The Douglas fir’s scientific name, Pseudotsuga menziesii means “false hemlock.” So I was thrilled to finally lay eyes on my first REAL hemlocks on this trip! If you see them from far away (which suddenly reminds me of Monty Python’s “How to identify trees from quite a long way away” sketch), their tips crook over. Neat!

All of these conifer forests have wonderful ferns around the forest floor too, giving the whole scene a lush, primitive feel. As we walked along the trail at Dungeoness Spit, I half expected a small dinosaur to dash across the path ahead of us.

woodpeckertree.jpgNow the birder in me hoped to see bald eagles and pileated woodpeckers. Sigh. I could cheat and say that maybe some of the birds I saw waaaaay up high near the beaches were eagles, but I wouldn’t feel good about it. And the closest that I got to a pileated woodpecker was seeing a tree with their telltale HUGE holes all over it. But wildlife-wise, I did get to see black-tailed deer in my parents’ front yard, and two harbor seals in the sound on our ferry ride back to Seattle. And while, as many of my fellow gardeners will attest, we DO have plenty of deer in Colorado, we definitely do NOT have harbor seals.