Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Carkeek Park’s Snowdrops: Signs of Spring

Last weekend while walking along the Piper’s Creek Trail, I happened to glance left as I crossed the small bridge just north of the orchard. Voila! Strewn among the brown, downed leaves from last fall were masses of slender green shoots and sweet, lily-like flowers.

They’re late, but the snowdrops in north Seattle’s Carkeek Park are in full bloom this week. [February 2014 update, the snowdrops are in full bloom as of February 13 this year!] But hurry, they’ve peaked and likely won’t be so abundant and vivid by next week. With our numerous snowfalls and cold snaps this past winter, the snowdrops (Galanthus nivalus) that usually come up in February are a March treat this year.

This “secret garden” of hundreds, perhaps thousands of delicate little white flowers grows just north of the old orchard above Piper’s Creek. These are remnant bulbs that were probably planted when the site was an old farmstead over 100 years ago (although I’m not sure bulbs survive that long). Since then, the plants have multiplied and spread into several patches growing along and above the small stream that flows into Piper’s Creek next to Piper’s Orchard.

Tread carefully if you decide to get a closer look. Park naturalists want you to stay on the main trails to prevent erosion. Welcome to spring!

When You Go
Click here for a map of Carkeek Park.To get to Carkeek from I-5,
get off on Northgate Way (Exit 173) and head west. Northgate Way becomes NW 105th Street and crosses Aurora Boulevard (SR 99). Turn right on Greenwood Avenue N to NW 110th Street and turn left. Continue about six blocks,the street becomes NW Carkeek Park Road and descends to the main park entrance. Park on the left at the bottom of the hill, before the road splits. Head up (away from Puget Sound) past the water treatment plant and look for the snowdrops on the left just before you get to the orchard.


Barry said...

It is amazing to think of bulbs lasting 100 years. These might be second, third, or eighth generation . . . maybe?

I remember driving in the backwoods of southern Arkansas with an old uncle in the 1990s and seeing daffodils growing in the pine woods. I remarked on them and my uncle said that they were all that remained of an old homestead that once stood on that spot. The house and outbuildings had completely rotted away.

Our lives are like this, as well. Long after our bodies have wandered onto wherever they will go, bits and pieces of beauty (and trash) will still linger, to remind others of our short presence.

Springtime is like this - containing reminders of former times.

Just yesterday, Susann and I noted that anemones were blooming - carpetbaggers from our former house, having hitched a ride along with the daylilies we transplanted. Life flows along...!

Thanks, Jill!

Anne said...

Spring in the Northwest can be maddening with the mercurical weather, but one constant is the happiness I feel when the first bulbs shoot their tender leaves up. Reminds me to start the vigil against slugs too!

Anonymous said...

I love to visit Piper's Orchard, but get really annoyed that the owners of the property bordering the back of the orchard let their pit bull run unleashed and unsupervised through there. It would be nice if the parks department or the police could do something about that, but I'm sure nothing will happen till that dog bites some kid (and knowing Seattle, even then, there will be an outpouring of concern over the dog's welfare).