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.