Skip navigation

Tag Archives: balsamroot

We have been away for two weeks on a road trip to California. There are many, many photos from that trip to edit and I have yet to get started. Lots of images of dogs playing in the surf. Prepare yourself. But for the moment I thought I’d share a few flower photos.

When we left, most of the ground on our hillside was covered with snow. Now it’s all gone. The ash-covered dirt is ready for spring and in some places it is already covered with a fresh blush of new green grasses. And if I look closely I can find tiny wildflowers. Some of them seem to be flourishing after last year’s fire. It’s a relief to see color on our landscape again.

Balsamroot sunflowers are in full bloom this week. Their sunny color paints the hillsides of the Methow valley with vivid pigments that invite you to get up and go outdoors. If you’re not out in the hills this week, you are making a mistake. MA and I took the dogs to Patterson Mountain, a popular and easily accessible hiking trail near here.  There were several cars at the trailhead so we knew others were out ahead of us and we did see them but mostly they were leaving as we were arriving so on top of the mountain we had it mostly to ourselves, except for a talkative raven.

The contrast of green hills crowned with yellow and the snow-covered mountains and blue skies surely make this the prettiest time of the year. There were other flowers – rock cress, shooting stars, blue bells, serviceberry, even a late twin flower. The bitterroot were not yet blooming. That surprised me. But the star of the day was the Balsamroot.

It seems like the snow just recently melted and yet, already everything is dusty so this morning it was lovely to wake to the smell of petrichor – the pleasant smell that comes with rain after a dry spell. Thanks to Mary Ann for sharing this word with me. It’s just a very light rain so things will not be moist for long. I’ll be watering tiny garden plants again tomorrow or the next day.

The dogs and I had a nice slow walk around our hillside. I am still nursing a sore back so I don’t do anything quickly. It was a good opportunity to study the small plants growing in our normally arid landscape.

Someone else coined the term ‘cardio Wednesdays’ and I’ve taken it to heart. Three weeks in a row Luna and I have joined other dogs and women for a brisk uphill hike to someplace with a great view and wonderful wildflowers. This week we went down-valley to hike with Lindsey and her three canine companions in a canyon pretty much in her backyard. We walked an abandoned road up, up, up til we came to a tremendous viewpoint of the snow-covered Sawtooth Mountains underlined with banks of yellow balsamroot sunflowers. Then we followed the ridge to a flat spot, the site of an old hunters’ camp, where we rested before heading down the other side of the ridge. It was a great morning hike.

Ponderosa pines have a wonderful scent when the sun hits the bark


A puffball emerges from the forest duff


The Sawtooth’s lie between the Methow Valley and Lake Chelan


Evidence of old logging activity


Luna catches her breath





and more balsamroot



and still more


Moose is an old dog who still loves his walks


A relic, possibly from an old hunting camp


Arnica lines this forest floor. I missed getting photos of the blooming patches.


A tremendous wildlife tree



and another one


Down through fields of balsamroot


Lindsey points out another trail we could have taken




Shiny beetle on lupine buds


Looking back up


This is the height of the wildflower season on our hill. The elevation of our house is about 1850′ and the colors of spring can be fleeting in this arid climate. Yesterday, before the wind came up, I was particularly struck with the beauty and diversity of this dry site’s wildflowers. Last week’s warm weather has been replaced with the more expected breezy and cool weather of spring.


Balsamroot, Balsamorhiza sagittata – the signature spring flower of for this valley



Thompson’s paintbrush (I think), Castilleja thompsonii






Calochortus sp (sometimes referred to as Cat’s ear)



Agoseris sp., again I am not sure



I am pretty sure this is bastard toadflax (not a pretty name for a delicate flower), however where I have seen it before it was more of a salmon color. Comandra umbellata






Columbia puccoon, Lithospermum ruderale



Bitterbrush, Purshia tridentata



Lupine, Lupinus sp



And another view of balsamroot, looking down-valley to Balky Hill and beyond


%d bloggers like this: