March 25 and I awake to the ground covered in frost. Yesterday a hail storm covered the ground in white. Despite the recent weather, early March had enough nice enough weather to convince the early blooming season that it was in deed time to show their colors. In fact, the first species bloomed back on February 10, blue-eyed Mary. This pretty little annual started slowly but now in late March covers the rocks across the top of the west half of the island.
Next up were the red flowering currant on February 16. The first currant plants to bloom are the ones along the trail to the outhouse. Why here is a mystery but it’s been pretty consistent over the years. Late March and this is already the peak for this shrub that only one rufous hummingbird has discovered this year, and that was just one day two weeks ago. What's also nice about currant is that it does well in the shaded understory of Yellow's small forested area so adds a nice splotch off red to the varied greens of the oceanspray, snowberry and Douglas firs.
|Red flowering currant|
March 10 buttercup had its first bloom but two weeks later there are still just individual plants scattered around the island, certainly not enough to name the island Yellow in their honor.
March 13 paintbrush started blooming and similar to the the first two species, it has its own favorite area to start. The south side of Hummingbird Hill nearly always shows the first reds of paintbrush. It’s only been blooming a couple weeks so still just scattered plants here and there. Paintbrush blooms well into May and some years June so the best is definitely yet to come.
Shooting star, prairie saxifrage, and Pacific sanicle all bloomed on March 18. These species that have only been blooming a week all have just a dozen plus or minus specimens in bloom. Unlike paintbrush, shooting star and the saxifrage have relatively short flowering seasons of about a month.
Small-flowered prairie star (3/18) and chocolate lily (3/24) are the only other native species currently in bloom. I’ve only seen three prairie stars and two chocolate lilies and both species suffered in yesterday’s hail storm and last night’s frost.
Given these are the best photos I could get this year, it is clearly not a time of year people race out to see the flowers. But I did have two intrepid kayakers today out to check out the early bloom, and they weren't disappointed.