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Empire of Mud - Northwest Meadowscapes

Empire of Mud

In the long dark season we find ourselves with no shortage of tasks still to be done. There’s piles of dry seed and chaff still to be sorted through and mechanically cleaned. There are transplant trays to be sown with wonderous things that we hope to make available someday. And there are wet arduous days, draped in heavy rubber rain suits, spent in muddy fields: planting bulbs of camas, brodiaea, triteleia, and various wild onions.

Mud is everywhere. In the truck. In the house. It sloughs off boots in the hardware store while digging through small bins looking for an elusive bearing to fix some odd piece of farm machinery. It weighs down the feet and makes walking a bother. At the end of every field day, we walk over to the beach as a family, swish our boots around in the shell beds and shallow water, trying to wash off as much mud as we can. We’ve seen whales, and overwintering loons in these moments. We watched the fall spawning chum come into the creek. Listened in silence to the monotonous “ding!” of the bell buoy while the cold evening wind pelts our faces with rain. We sorted through countless pebbles looking for something amazing.

The fact is, it’s all amazing.

We are as much creatures of these places as we are creatures of dumpy strip malls and asphalt and industrial boat yards and weedy roadsides strewn with garbage.

Somehow the earth is big enough and mysterious enough to hold the human world and the natural world together as one.

All of this is to say, we have a few new uncommon and sort of rare things in stock:

*Checker lily (Fritillaria affinis) a divine brownish, purplish, mottle flowered lily with an edible bulb, that can possibly live for centuries;

*Threadleaf phacelia (Phacelia linearis), a graceful annual oceanside cliff dweller for us that attracts uncommon pollen-feeding wasps;

*Henderson’s checkermallow (Sidalcia hendersonii) a brilliantly magenta flowered coastal wetland plant that is probably on the verge of extinction in the wild, but which grows happily in most home garden conditions;

*Common yampah (Perideridia gairdneri), possibly one of the most famed native food plants in North America; and

*Western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis), a mountain meadow plant that also grows well in typical home garden conditions where it makes a strangely striking cut flower and choice bee plant.

Along with these new additions, we have yet to be sorted through or packed species that are in the pipeline to watch for, including Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca), Garry oak (Quercus garryana), Menzie’s fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii), and a lot more. We’ll get to those when the mud dries. Until then, thanks for the good work you do inhabiting this world with us, planting seeds.

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