This is a secluded little alcove at the top of our Japanese garden. The embankment curves around the sitting area, blocking the view of the houses above. Trees have been planted to further seclude the Adirondack setee. The top of our stream and waterfall is tucked in behind and flows alongside the chair. From this view point, we can overlook our Japanese garden and stream as well as look beyond to the lower property. From here we can gaze above to view the Selah Bluffs and then beyond to see the Selah-Yakima gap.
It is a private and peaceful place to view the surrounding landscape, listen to the rushing water, and watch the birds flutter about. It is a wonderful place to start the day with a cup of coffee, end the afternoon with a glass of wine, or to just sit and be grateful for all that surrounds us.
Remember back in a previous post (March 22) I presented a viburnum that was just getting ready to bloom? I thought it would burst open the next day. I kept going out every day checking for its progress. Leaves started to come out, but nothing seemed to be happening with the blossom buds. Then last week, all of a sudden the whole plant burst open in bloom. Well it took almost 4 weeks for the viburnum to reach its full bloom. Patience pays off! One week later, most of the blooms have been blown off the plant. Oh well … It was beautiful!
Walking around the Yakima Arboretum’s crabapple collection is a real treat. I made three trips there this Spring. One day I noticed a young lady walking around and taking closeup images of the crabapple blooms with her i-Pad. Her partner was patiently sitting on a bench waiting for her to finish. The next day I came back again and saw the same lady taking more photos with her i-Pad. And, her partner was sitting on the bench again. Beauty attracts photographers. If it weren’t for “social distancing” I would have asked her if she was just enjoying the beauty of the garden like I was, or was she doing some special project.
The beauty of the majestic ancient crabapples in the Yakima Arboretum has inspired me over the years. It is one of the largest crabapple collections in the country. Almost all of the trees are very old. Some are on their last leg. Over the years the Arboretum has not added new trees to take place of the ones which are past their healthy prime. This will be one of the challenges that the Arboretum will address in the new Master Plan. Anyway, the grove still inspires me to the point that I have decided to create a small crabapple grove of my own in the “lower 40” of Heatherwood. One dark pink crabapple was planted in the garden by the previous owner. It anchors the northeast corner of our house. This spring we will plant a white weeping cherry to complement it. On the “lower 40” we are planting a mini-collection of seven different crabapples to frame in our meadow area. Some are blooming now, so we can get a glimpse of what is to come in the years ahead.
Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) have always been one of my favorite spring flowers. It was one of Dad’s as well. I can remember when I was just a little tyke, Dad would grab me and take me out to see the first blooms. I can remember him planting the Bleeding Heart in our small garden at the “little house” up at the ranch. When we moved into the “City” (Selah, WA), we built a rock garden in the back yard by our patio. A Bleeding Heart was one of the first plants Dad and Mom planted.
After I was out on my own, it was many years before I planted my own Bleeding Heart. I planted one in our first house in Seattle. our house in Bothell, our house in Fairfax VA, our house in Kent, our house in Woodinville, and our house in Fountainville PA. We were in Fountainville for 17 years where our Bleeding Heart grew into a rather large plant. It provided a beautiful contrast among a bed of pachysandra under a blue atlas cedar. It was the highlight of the spring bloom in its own corner for Karen and me.
The first plant I planted when I moved back to Selah was the Bleeding Heart. I did not have a good shade location to plant it, so I planted it next to the house in a little corner between rhododendrons and sword ferns. It is making its home there, but it is a little hidden. As we finish our Japanese garden, I will find a place for it where it can shine.
Over the years, I have photographed our Bleeding Heart from many different perspectives. I have made several greeting cards using it as the subject. They always come in handy for that special greeting to someone that means very much to me.
I casually walked home through cherry orchard, taking my time and looking all around me. I looked up and saw this protrusion of Selah Ridge overlooking the orchard. I felt like it was a sentinel watching over the rows of trees getting ready to bloom. Blossoms should be emerging very soon. I will keep my eyes open so I can take another adventure through the blooming orchard.
During my walk to the top of the cherry orchard I found a new way to get up to the top of Selah Ridge that overlooks the hillside where we live. There are so many places around our neighborhood to explore. The trek to the top of the ridge from here will be one that I plan to wander and explore.
Looking at this line of basalt rock, I ask myself how this remnant of a lava flow got way up here. Beneath this level of basalt lay strata of limestone-type sediments from an ancient sea bed. How did a sea bed get up here? Piecing the little that I know of the geologic history of the area, the following is what I think happened: First, this area at one time was under the Pacific Ocean. Then the volcanic Cascade Mountains were formed which separated Eastern Washington from the coastal plain. Later, the Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho basalt flows covered what is now the Columbia Basin. Then the moving continental plates slowly forced up the Yakima Folds creating a line of ridges across south central Washington. We live at the base of one of these ridges.
This Easter is quite a bit different than any that I have experienced. I will be with my family in spirit and thought instead of physically being close to them. I will miss watching the little ones scurry around hunting for Easter eggs in our yard and the wonderful conversations between the generations. Our spirits, love, and prayers will transcend the physical distances between us. Mary and I will make the most of the day as we give thanks to our Lord who gave so much to free us from our sins. We will take the time to sit back and appreciate the wonderful world surrounding us. Our prayers will be with the many others around the world as we all fight this pandemic.
As I take my walks, my eyes are wandering constantly. This branch on a cherry tree caught my attention. What kind of insect or disease could have caused this? Or could it have been artistically created by someone who was talented with a knife and a small carving chisel?
Looking down on this row of smudgepots from the old cherry orchard brought back many memories of my childhood. Sixty years ago, I can remember waking up to skies covered with smoke. A thin film of soot covered anything that was open. The soot could even seep in through cracks into our house. Walking outside I remember feeling the smoke in my lungs. These pots were used to produce heat to protect the spring flowering buds from frost. The oil-burning smudgepots were placed between the rows of trees to produce a warm bed of heat. Cherry trees were the most susceptible to the frost because they typically were the first to bloom in the Spring.
Smudgepot lighting was always a special time when I was old enough to work in the orchards. I can remember hanging out in Grandpa Brown’s bunk house with several other school buddies in an evening when a frost was expected. We were suppose to do homework, but that never happened. We would “horse around” and then try to catch a little sleep. When the temperature stated to drop, we would rush out and light the oil in the pots. We would then monitor the temperature until it rose above freezing. We would then rush back out and turn the pots off. After shutting down the pots we would go home and get ready for school. I left my oily and smoky clothes in the garage. I would shower and get dressed, then head down to school. Most of my school pants were white denims. It didn’t take long to get them covered with the soot left by a previous night’s smudging. After school, we would go back out to the orchards and refill the smudgepots to prepare for the next freeze.
Living out in the country is a wonderful opportunity to get out and explore. I have no excuse to feel “cooped up” inside the house. A 20 minute walk and I am above it all, overlooking an old cherry orchard, the valley below, and the gap to Yakima. How peaceful it is to just stand up on the hillside and observe the wonderful area where we live. In a short time, this orchard will be covered with white and pink blossoms. It is one of the few “old stands” of cherry trees around. Each year they remove a section and plant new trees. Hopefully this section will remain for several years to come.