Autumn Impressions

Autumn is the time of year that I like to wander around gardens, parks, and nature trails to “paint” with my camera. I love to capture nature as it is changing from one season to another, specifically summer to autumn. I don’t necessarily look for startling colors, but more so in textures and variations in color that depict the change in season. Capturing leaves in various stages of decay is beautiful to the eye, if presented properly.

Today I returned to a favorite place of mine—the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, located in Federal Way, Washington. It is an outdoor garden located on acres of a natural wooded area of native Pacific Northwest foliage. It is bursting with color during the spring months. But the fall season offers up its own display of color, albeit a bit more subdued in fanciness. One needs to seek out the jewels of the season and pay close attention to detail. Walk slowly through this garden, paying attention to everything around you, both above and below, and you will find many jewels of nature.

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All images property of Peggy A Thompson

 

 

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Purple, the New Autumn Color!

Colchicum autumnale

Well, not exactly new! But in my area of the world, these lovely, purple flowers are commonly grown in local gardens. They are the Autumn Crocus, also called Meadow Saffron and Naked Lady. The Latin name is Colchicum autumnale. They start to bloom in September and do not last too long. Their long and delicate, translucent green stems bend down to the ground as the flowers begins to wilt. They grow in patches, with many blooms. They are really beautiful, with the blooms being a delicate, pinkish purple color. When photographing them in direct sunlight, the pink comes through predominantly. In the shade, the color will show more towards the purple end of the spectrum.

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

 

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Autumn Splendor in the Mountains

Wow! I can’t believe how fast time flies! It’s already October! Where did September go? Seems like Old Man Winter is getting a head start on us, here in the Pacific Northwest. The snow has already been flying in the higher elevations, with more expected this weekend. We lucked out and had some very nice weather the past several days, with temperatures lurking near 70 degrees. I took advantage of this time to visit Mount Rainier National Park to experience her autumn splendor. The colors are at their peak now. The Vine Maples and Huckleberry leaves have turned brilliant shades of red, orange, burgundy, and magenta. Along the steep escarpments, one can view patches of reds and oranges.

Perhaps the most colorful patch is at the base of Paradise Meadows, where the Huckleberry leaves have turned a magnificent magenta.

Below, bright, red clusters of Sitka Mountain Ash berries hang from branches, adding stunning contrast.

Below is a view of the mountain from across Paradise Valley.

Fiery maple leaves give lovely contrast to the white mountain as seen from the Longmire visitor area.

Every autumn, I make this trip to the national park to view the stunning colors. I’m never disappointed.

 

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

 

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Colorful August Gardens

It’s August! And flower gardens are blooming in delicious colors! One of my favorites is the Black Eyed Susan. They radiant so much warmth and cheer with their golden yellow color! I love how the blue Salvia are mixed in with them. Nice color combo!

Colorful Wax begonias and yellow Marigolds in the image below make lovely garden borders.

This month also sees Asian Lilies in full bloom. These Stargazers steal the show every time with their beautiful, large blooms and heavy fragrance.

Another popular garden flower throughout August is the Coneflower (Echinacea). They come in different colors, such as red, yellow, purple, and white.

The large leafed Ligularia, commonly known as Leopard Plants, shows off it bright, yellow flowers. These do well in shaded areas of a garden.

Here is some blooming Crocosmia I found, still glistening from a morning’s watering.

Another flowering plant just starting to bloom is the Globe Thistle. The heads of these plants burst out into tiny, purple blossoms. They remind me of flowering Allium.

Alongside the Globe Thistle, I found these Globe Artichokes.

A yellow Tiger Swallowtail butterfly resting on Russian Sage.

And last, but not least, the showy Dahlia is now blooming throughout summer gardens and will continue to bloom throughout September.

All photos property of Peggy A Thompson

 

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Adventure on the Olympic Peninsula

It’s been a picture perfect summer so far, here in Western Washington State. No rain for a month and mild temperatures make for perfect vacation weather. I gave myself a mini-vacation over the weekend and decided to head for the Olympic Peninsula and the rain forests. Mind you, there can be drizzle or a few sprinkles along the coast. The Pacific Northwest rain forest area normally receives well over 100 inches of rain per year. This past record, wet winter and spring saw several hundred inches of rain. Pretty amazing!

From whatever direction you travel, you have to navigate Hwy 101 on the peninsula. The highway travels up the Oregon coastline and beyond and just about circumnavigates the peninsula. In between is the Olympic Mountain Range and Olympic National Forest, a vast area. The highway doesn’t exactly follow the Washington coastline as it does in Oregon; it follows primarily an inland route through the coastal forests, with a short stint along the western coastline, at Ruby Beach. Once you reach the top of the peninsula, the highway travels closer to the inland strait, and then proceeds south along the scenic Hood Canal, ending near Olympia, Washington.

Of all the rain forests on the Olympic Peninsula, the Hoh Rain Forest is the largest and most popular. This area has a paid entrance and visitor center in the Olympic National Park system. There are several trails to choose from, some short and some quite long. If you are just visiting for the day, opt for the Hall of Mosses Trail or the Spruce Trail. The Hall of Mosses Trail is probably the most popular, as it is under a mile loop trail. Here you are greeting in the parking area with huge Sitka Spruce trees, as seen below.

I opted for the Hall of Mosses Trail, as I was on a tight schedule. Here you will encounter more of the giant Sitka Spruce along with giant Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, and some Western Redcedar, with the first two being the predominant species in the rain forest. Below is an example of large, Western Hemlocks.

Here, some tourists are checking out a giant Douglas Fir.

Check out this image with these creepy, twisted roots of an old Hemlock tree.

In another section is a grove of old Maple trees that look like something out of a fantasy movie. They are totally covered in mosses and lichens.

The trail is relatively easy, with a few steps and inclines, here and there.

Along the 17 mile, winding road to the park entrance, from the main Hwy 101, glimpses of the Hoh River can be seen.

If you are hungry or looking for rain forest souvenirs, there is one small cafe (Hard Rain Cafe) along the road outside of the park and one outdoor/souvenir shop (Peak 6). I highly recommend the Peak 6 shop for souvenirs. They have an excellent selection of clothing and gifts at reasonable prices.

I hope you enjoyed my little tour of a temperate rain forest. Keep in mind that there is a lot of mileage involved to find these gems in the Pacific Northwest, and it is best to make motel or camp site reservations in advance. There are camp sites in the Hoh Rain Forest. The nearest motels are located in Forks, Washington. There are also rooms and cabins at Lake Crescent Lodge and Kalaloch Lodge. You definitely do not want to rush your stay!

All photos property of Peggy A Thompson

 

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