Approaching Ebey's Landing trailhead

Approaching Ebey’s Landing trailhead

“I leave this notice
on my door
For each accustomed
visitor:
I am gone into the fields
To take what this sweet hour yields.”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley

I take most of my out-of-town guests to Whidbey Island for hiking at Ebey’s Landing.  The journey itself is half the fun as it involves a ferry ride and a drive along country roads with old barns.

Old barn, Whidbey Island

Old barn, Whidbey Island

Another old barn

Another old barn

Ferry viewed from the bluff at Ebey's Landing

Ferry viewed from the bluff at Ebey’s Landing

The hike itself is pretty spectacular no matter which season I take guests there. The trail is a pleasant loop, up a bluff, and then along the beach on the way back.  This past weekend the landscape was as green as I’ve ever seen it.

Stairs at the start of the hike

Stairs at the start of the hike

Notice the hikers (like ants) on the bluff and on the shore

Notice the hikers (like ants) on the bluff and on the shore

The initial uphill stretch.  The path soon levels off at the top of the bluff.

The initial uphill stretch. The path soon levels off at the top of the bluff.

View of farmland from the bluff; so green

View of farmland from the bluff; so green

View from Ebey's Landing

View from Ebey’s Landing

Lupine

Lupine

Steep slope

Steep slope

Tree sculpted like bonsai

Tree sculpted like bonsai

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Driftwood along the beach

Driftwood along the beach

The homeward stretch along the shore

The homeward stretch along the shore

Seaweed

Seaweed

Seaweed and rocks

Seaweed and rocks

Beach sculpture

Beach sculpture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laburnum arbor, Bayview Nursery

Laburnum arbor, Bayview Nursery

Spring is proceeding at breathless pace, and one of my favorite places to savor the fresh colors and blooms is Bayview Farm and Garden on Whidbey Island.  I mark my calendar each year so that I remember to make the trip there when the laburnum arbor is in full glory.  The cascading flowers of Golden Chain give the impression that you are sitting under a floral waterfall.  The double arbor alone makes Bayview Farm and Garden a worthy destination, but of course, the rest of the nursery is also full of visual treats.

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A garden Buddha

A garden Buddha

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Clematis

Clematis

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks

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Fuchsias

Fuchsias

“Fuchsias are among my ninety-nine most favourite flowers. . . . I could go on for hours, and probably shall, one day, about their white petticoats and their crimson ruffs and the incredible grace with which they dispose themselves.”
— Beverley Nichols, Sunlight on the Lawn

The Pacific madrone

The Pacific madrone

I have a memory of acid-green tree bark.

Two years ago, while a passenger in a car traveling to Coupeville, Washington, I remember seeing this most unusual color on the trees lining Madrona Way.  So on my recent trip to Whidbey Island, I was determined to find them again so that I could photograph the amazing bark.

I did find the trees, the Pacific madrone or madrona, along the winding Madrona Way, but the trunks exhibited a burnt sienna color — no acid green.  Could I have mis-remembered?  Looking for more information, I came across this Seattle Times article which describes some of the more amazing attributes of this native tree:  it’s a “broadleaf evergreen tree” (we think of evergreen trees as having needles) with “bonsai’d branches.”  It’s a “cliff hugging” tree, so the winding road along Puget Sound was its natural habitat.  And then the article mentioned “pistachio” colored bark.  So it seems I might have I remembered correctly after all.

The Times article also introduced me to the local artist David Harrison, who frequently features the madrona tree in work.  You can see some of this paintings here.

And here are my photos:

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Spring Lambs

March 20, 2013

This past Saturday I went on a farm tour with the PCC Farmland Trust to see the new lambs at Camelot Downs on Whidbey Island.  This was my second visit to this small, organic sheep farm.  (You can see an earlier post from February 2011 here.)  This year there were 22 lambs, a sure sign of Spring.

Spring lambs at Camelot Downs farm

Spring lambs at Camelot Downs farm

Gary and Lois Fisher, owners of Camelot Downs, raise two old breeds of sheep — Romney Marsh and South Down whose heritage strings back to Colonial days.  This was their last weekend in their winter coats.  Shearing would take place this week.

“The new lambs all have the same little bony body, the same strange combination of fragility and resilience, the same jumpy immediacy.  On their suddenly vast green grassy playground, they perform from time to time a startling leap, all four legs in the air, a quiver along the tensed back, a sudden blowing off of the synapses, for no real reason and always followed by a look of bemused horror.  Why did my body do that?  What is this sensory, jerking, stuttering of which I am a part?  Where’s my mother?”
— Adam Nicolson, Sea Room

Spring lambs, Camelot Downs

Spring lambs, Camelot Downs

South Down ewe and her lamb

South Down ewe and her lamb

Sticking close to mother

Sticking close to mother

Romney Marsh ewe

Romney Marsh ewe

Gamboling in its vast green playground

Gamboling in its vast green playground

Sheep farm at Camelot Downs, Whidbey Island

Sheep farm at Camelot Downs, Whidbey Island

Heritage breeds

Heritage breeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking trail up to the bluff at Ebey’s Landing

When I have company from out-of-town, I like to take them to Ebey’s Landing, one of my favorite hikes on Whidbey Island.  This loop trail provides a perfect slice of Pacific Northwest life — a ferry ride to get there, expansive views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, bucolic rural scenery, and a beach walk.  It’s not too strenuous, and a breeze keeps you cool even on a hot, sunny summer day.

We experienced a special treat on this most recent hike — a plein air artist was working on a landscape in oil pastels.  I always love to see artists at work.

Easel and trays of oil pastels at Ebey’s Landing

Steven R. Hill, plein air artist

An artist’s hands

Plein air art at Ebey’s Landing

View from Ebey’s Landing: a rural landscape with Mount Baker on the horizon

View out over Puget Sound

Looking down at the lagoon from the bluff at Ebey’s Landing

View of Olympic Mountains from across Puget Sound

Arbor of golden chain at the Bayview Nursery

While we were on Whidbey Island, we stopped at the Bayview Nursery to see the laburnum in bloom.  They are stunningly displayed in two arbors.  To walk through the golden arches is enchanting.

Double arbors of golden chain, Bayview Nursery

Golden chain remind me of yellow wisteria

Blooms hang like pendulums

A curtain of golden chain

An enchanting spot

Doesn't this resemble an impressionist painting?

Looking back through the other way

Golden arches

Spectacular laburnum at the Bayview Nursery

 

We saw so many wildflowers in bloom on the bluffs at Ebey’s Landing.  (Please comment if you know the names of any of these wildflowers!  Thanks.)

On the bluff at Ebey's Landing overlooking Puget Sound

Wild Nootka roses