Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spring Is On Its Way

by Lynnda

Hybrid Rhododendron near gatehouse - SJG 2/18/12
After I saw the email from Rachel stating that the Seattle Japanese Garden is open, I was anxious to see how it looks in the middle of February, especially since we've had such a mild winter.  Spring is truly on its way, although it definitely did not feel like spring today.  I arrived around 3, and the wind was blowing, a mist was falling, and the parking lot was empty.  There was only one other person walking through the garden, checking on the progress of the recent clean-up.

I was pleasantly surprised by so many harbingers of spring.  I didn't see the flowering rhody near the gatehouse on the way in, but I was glad to have seen it as I was leaving. It's tucked behind other plants and stands right next to the eastern fence.
Japanese Maple - SJG2/18/12

Before the leaves arrive, interesting tree structures are clearly visible.  This Japanese maple swirls and twists; possibly more interesting in the winter than in full foliage.

 While walking past the paper bark maple, it dawned on me that the music of the streams and waterfalls was louder than last year.  What a lovely discovery!  I also noticed the water flow was stronger than last year, causing a few small but noisy splashes where none existed before.
Every where I looked, there were signs that spring is on its way.  Camellia trees throughout the garden were loaded with plump buds.  The forsythia was beginning to flower, but was in a very early stage.  When looking SE across the inland sea towards the waterfalls, I could see the small whirly seed pods on various maples.  The cherry trees showed no color, but the tips of the branches showed bulging promise.

Forsythia - SJG 2/18/12
Camellia bud - SJG 2/18/12

Kingfisher - SJG 2/18/12
 A Belted Kingfisher was carrying on quite a conversation while flying back and forth from the north end to a tree branch near the suhama.  A great blue heron was watching the kingfisher while keeping an eye open for passing koi.  I think he was cold as he was hunched over and he looked as though he had no neck!  The koi were visible, and seemed to be swimming in slow motion. None gathered near the moon viewing platform as they do throughout the summer, looking for a handout.   There had been a lot of maintenance done in the garden this winter.  Some of the bridges were repaired or rebuilt, the paths have new gravel, everything looks so ready for the First Viewing on March 4th.
Great Blue Heron - SJG 2/18/12

It was a most pleasant reintroduction for me to see the garden in its most pregnant state.  That's what is so compelling about this garden. There are new discoveries on each visit as it changes from week to week.  I encourage you to visit it often and watch the spring unfold.  You will not be disappointed!


  1. hey, Lyndda - BIG THANK YOU for posting this: i was there a few hours before you today, but haven't had a chance to blog about it yet - and what a great writing and pics you shared with the rest of us!!! KISSS!!

    the 'Dirty Harry' heron was already planted on the rock when i was there, kind of not very happy with the wind and rain. i see that he moved a bit up-land by the time you got an audience with him today.

    the camellia bud pic you posted is of rather rare 'japonica daikagura' type in area C - has red and white petals, i got the full bloom pic, maybe will post it in a day or two.

    i missed the kingfisher, drat! and your pic of japanese maple is splendid: showing its wonderful structure.

    about that lavender-colored rhodie by the fence: bold fellow, isn't he? shamelessly blooming in the middle of february just like that! i saw another one of his relatives while driving through Arboretum. and he is a hybrid? i poured through the plant book, hoping to read that he is some himalayan adventurer, brave through the snow, or something, but there was no info on this guy there:(...

  2. Aleks - I think this rhododendron is in the plant book, with no size description, but in the plant description, it says "corolla pink (like Xmas Cheer)". My picture didn't do justice to the color - it was definitely pink, not lavender. Did you see this one? Not noticeable on way into the garden, and I almost missed it on my way out.

  3. hm, Lynnda, i might be looking at different plant book? the only corolla pink is the rh. fargesii. my camera didn't catch the color well either, but i thought it was on the cool end of pink towards violet-ish, but then the names of the colors can be tricky, or who knows what my eyes see - just flunked vision test at the driver's license place:(.

    anyway, i'll try to research more and sent pics to Kathy L. for ID, too. once we decide what it is we can add 'blooms in february' to description - not that many rhodies do that!

  4. Aleks - I found it on page 4 of the on-line plant book. Sorry about your vision test. What a bummer! We might have to go back and take a photo at closer range.

  5. Lynnda,
    Thank you for your "not-so-sneak" preview of the garden. I felt like I was walking around with you.

    I look forward to listen to the sound of the waterfall with "a few small but noisy splashes where none existed before." I am fascinated by your keen sense of sound and the expression of it.