Lovely Hydrangeas!

I want to share some lovely images of different types of Hydrangeas I encountered while visiting a local garden—Lakewold Gardens. I love how some Hydrangea petal colors fade toward the end of their life span. It gives them a completely new look. Some even look like they’ve been bleached! Did you know that there are many different varieties of Hydrangeas? Most of us are familiar with the very popular Mophead varieties. Their giant blooms come in hues of reds, blues, and white. But there are many other varieties, such as Lacecap, Panicled, Oak Leaf, Double Flowered, to name a few. Below are some images of different Hydrangea varieties.

All photo images property of Peggy A Thompson

 

 

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Summer Blooms at Point Defiance Park Gardens

Wow! Such spectacular blooms and colors can be viewed right now at the Point Defiance Park floral gardens in Tacoma, Washington. The Rose garden, Fuchsia garden, Dahlia garden, and main gardens are all at their peak bloom. Below you will find images of a sampling of the many varieties of flowers in the gardens.

Snapdragons and Blue Salvia

An assortment of Zinnias

White Snapdragon flower

More Snapdragons

Lacecap Hydrangea

Nicotiana (Tobacco Plant)

Anemones

Lacecap Hydrangea and Variegated Hosta

Acanthus (Bear’s Breech)

Ligularia (Leopard Plant)

Russian Sage and Black Eyed Susans

The Rose garden is just magnificent! I have overheard visitors from all over claim they have never seen such beautiful roses. Here are some examples of what you may see.

It’s definitely worth the drive to Tacoma to visit the gardens! I strongly suggest visiting during a weekday, as the weekends are crowded with private parties and weddings this time of year. Parking is limited and fills quickly. The gardens are free to everyone to visit.

 

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

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Trails, Trains, and a Golf Course

Yesterday I took a hike along the Chambers Bay Loop that circles the Chambers Bay Golf Course, in University Place, Washington. It is a 3.25 trail that involves some serious incline. In the above image, you can see part of the upper trail that runs atop the golf course. On this particular day, I hiked the lower trail that runs along the Puget Sound waterfront. This lower part of the trail is paved. The golf course is of the “Scottish Links” type and was the site of the PGA Masters Tournament in 2015.

Along the south section of the golf course stand remnants of local history that once was the site of a sand and gravel mine company from decades past. Today these concrete structures serve not only as a tribute to the area’s rich history, but, to many, can also be viewed as art.

The lower half of the loop trail runs along the waterfront and the BNSF rail tracks. A great place for rail fans to capture photos of trains! Wait 10 minutes and you will most likely see a freight train go by. Many end up at the Port of Tacoma with their containers to be shipped overseas.

Below are several images of the scenic landscape of the golf course and the blue waters of Puget Sound. Because the lower half of the trail runs through the golf course, one can get a personal view of the fairways and putting greens. Walkers are forewarned with signs that a rare, errant golf ball could hit them. But that doesn’t seem to prevent the many walkers and joggers that use the scenic trail on a daily basis. There are other walking trails on site, away from errant balls, that many choose to use as an alternative.

Toward the northern end of the lower trail, one starts a steep, uphill climb that meanders through a wooded area. This is nice, because it allows you to get out of the hot sun and cool off a bit, but there is still a lot of huffing and puffing as one struggles along the uphill climb.

Once you reach the top of the trail, if starting from the southern end, one is greeted with a panoramic view of the golf course and Puget Sound. Of course, the image below does not capture the entire width of the course, but you get the idea.

Chambers Bay Loop is a great place for family hikes, dog walks, jogging, and bicycling. The generously paved trails accommodate room for everyone. Where else can you get an eyeful of shoreline seascape along with green fairways! Yeah, there are a few freight trains along the way, but I see it as an extra bonus of mixing in a bit of traditional Americana. I love it!

 

All photos property of Peggy A Thompson

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Exploring Soos Creek Botanical Garden and Heritage Center

I recently visited a botanical garden I had not been to before: Soos Creek Botanical Garden and Heritage Center, located in Auburn, Washington. I must say that I was awe-stricken with the beauty and size of the garden, which is actually made up of several gardens, each with their own particular types of plant species. The main trails are well manicured with gravel, with gentle sloping in some areas. As an alternative, one can walk the long, rolling green area between the two main trails, which actually connect together. Other natural, side trails loop through small forested areas, as well as some rather steep trail steps that lead down to Soos Creek at the far end of the trail. This particular trail section is suitable only for those physically fit and able to climb up and down stairs. I did not negotiate this part of the trail at this time, but plan to in the future. In fact, I had not realized that the garden was so big, and I didn’t have the time to explore all of it on this particular day.

Right now, the usual summer blooms are absolutely gorgeous, especially the Hydrangeas. If you love Hydrangeas, this garden has lots of varieties and colors of Hydrangeas—some of the most beautiful I have ever seen!

Here are some species of Hydrangeas blooming in the garden, to include Mophead, Lacecap, and Panicle.

Here are a few other flowers species I encountered during my stroll through the garden.

Dahlias

Rose of Sharon

Hibiscus

Cosmos

Black Eyed Susans

Globe Thistle (Echinops)

Clematis

Pond Garden

The garden also has over 100 hybrid varieties of Rhododendrons, which I’m sure are absolutely gorgeous in the springtime! There are also many species of flowering trees and shrubs, many of which flower in the spring as well. Also, I’m looking forward to visiting the garden during the autumn season to view the changing leaf color of the many species of deciduous trees in the garden.

Also located on the garden grounds is an aviary that holds doves, peafowl, cockatiels, and parakeets—something you don’t see in most gardens!

As well, there is the Soos Creek Heritage Center, devoted to the history of the early settlers of the area. Here you will find a collection of photos, maps, and artifacts dating back many decades ago.

The garden is open on a limited basis and by donation. Please check their web page for details.

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

 

 

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Hiking in Mount Rainier National Park

It’s wildflower bloom time in Mount Rainier National Park. There are hundreds of species of wildflowers in the park, and the most concentrated areas of them are in the subalpine Paradise Meadows. The image above shows colorful Magenta Paintbrush in the foreground.

This particular hike took me higher in elevation than I’ve ever attempted before, approaching the alpine region where one encounters snowfields to cross. This is where I stopped, as I did not want to risk any slips or falls on the slippery, melting snow. I encountered many groups of hikers, all geared up to trek to the mountain base camp, Camp Muir. Mountain climbers from all over the world come to Mount Rainier to train for other mountainous expeditions. It is a mountain to be taken very seriously. Because it is so tall (14,410 ft). the mountain creates its own weather; conditions can change in the blink of an eye. Every year, many climbers require rescue and some even perish.

So here are a few snapshots I took, looking behind me as I ascended. The first image show part of the Tatoosh Range, which is in the opposite direction. The second image shows the Nisqually River Valley. The headwaters of this river form from the Nisqually Glacier.

Here is a magnificent view of the mountain from the Glacier Vista viewpoint. Hike up a bit further to see equally magnificent views of the Nisqually Glacier.

Along the way I encountered lots of wildlife. Amidst the craggy rocks lives the Hoary Marmot. You can hear them calling to one another with whistling sounds. They don’t seem to be afraid of humans, either.

Another very common sight is the very cute Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel.

Another denizen of the subalpine regions of the park is the Blue Grouse. You have to be keenly observant and have sharp eyes to see these guys, as they blend into their environment. I happened to spot this guy in the distance, milling around in the foliage. What attracted my attention was some sort of quiet, peeping sound I was not familiar with.

One last view of the mountain!

If you want to attempt any high elevation hiking in the park, even if just for one day, please be prepared with the proper gear: hiking boots/shoes, trekking poles, water, energy bars, hat, outer wear, sunscreen, whistle, first-aid kit. And, please check weather conditions before heading out.  Enjoy the summer and your national parks!

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

 

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