Like most of us, I imagine, I’m spending most days in my house. While over the years, I have developed the habit of leaving the blinds on the front window down since they help keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer, now that I’m indoors so much, I often find myself pulling the blinds up during daytime hours.
Still my eyes may not see what’s in front of my face. One morning in May, I gazed towards the front window and really “saw” the view. I had known this rhododendron shrub had buds, but I hadn’t noticed it had come into full bloom. The sight was stunning.
When I was showing a friend around our Greenbelt restoration project on May 25, she saw a red flower in the distance. It was too far away, and too covered by invasive plants, to know what it was. We guessed it was a rhododendron flower. (Mystery in the Making).
At the time, I was in the midst of preparing for Amma’s programs so wasn’t able to make my way to the flower. Last Saturday, I decided to do whatever it took to get close. I gathered my tools and headed for the thicket. I took the photo above just before I began to cut my way through the dead branches, blackberry vines, laurel, ivy, and downed trees.
As I worked, I realized how much I missed the excitement of freeing the trees in the Greenbelt and discovering what was under the mass of invasive plants. Most of our recent work has been to dig out blackberry root balls from areas where blackberry vines have been cut down.
Every so often I looked up to see how close I was to the red flowers.
I progressed much faster than I expected. At one point, I realized that a branch I cut was not laurel, it was a rhododendron branch. Soon I saw more rhododendron branches.
There is a steep slope along the eastern border of the property. For liability reasons, the City of Seattle does not allow us to work on slopes that steep. I noticed that the rhododendron was on the last piece of flat land before the slope began. I continued on my way, getting ever closer to my goal.
Closer and closer.
And then I was there. I knew there was no way I was going to free the whole bush, at least not on that day, but I was able to touch one of the flowers. I wish the photo was clearer but I’m glad that I have it. I realized if I had waited much longer to solve this mystery, all of the petals would have fallen off.
I looked up and saw this sight.
I also enjoyed seeing the rest of the bush.
There were so many branches, going every direction. They reminded me of a pretzel.
When I looked through the thicket, I thought I saw more rhododendron bushes. I wonder what other discoveries await me. I look forward to the time when we focus on clearing that part of the Greenbelt. For now, though, I will go back to digging out blackberry root balls!
This is the week when the rhododendrons in my front yard are in full bloom.
On Thursday, when I was showing a friend the restoration work we are doing in the Greenbelt, she asked me about the red she was seeing through the trees. It was deep into an uncleared and presently unreachable part of the project and I had never seen it before. We walked as close to it as we could get, but still couldn’t identify it. Our guess was that it is a rhododendron bush. If so, it is a first on that property.
The next day, I walked back to that area to see if I could get closer. I could still barely see the blossoms. In taking an enlarged view, this is what I saw.
I walked a different direction to see if I could get a better view. From that vantage point, I could spot a bit of red, but it was very tiny. See if you can see it.
So much of the property has already been cleared of blackberry and ivy vines and other invasive plants. I am enjoying the thought of making new discoveries when we begin working on the remaining areas of “uncharted territory”!
I’ve been working outside. My toes and fingers are ice cold even though I was wearing gloves and boots.
The weather forecasters say to plan for snow for tonight and tomorrow. I don’t think I have seen snow for five years or more, partially because I go to India from the end of November until mid-January.
Maybe I will feel warmer if I think about last summer!
These photos barely give a glimpse of the beauty of this rhododendron. It was stunning.
In 1892, the women of Washington State chose the Coast Rhododendron to be the state flower, but it wasn’t made official until 1959. They are in full bloom now and are so beautiful. Yesterday, I walked around my neighborhood and took photographs of as many colors as I could find.
(Click any photo to see them as a slide show.)