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Penstemon Davidoniii Var. Davidsonii at Crane Mt. Oregon photo by Ned Lowry
Shrubby Beardtongues with Woolly Anthers (Dasanthera Penstemons)

Myrna Jewett


No, shrubby beardtongues with woolly anthers are not unpleasant, bristly characters, but are a group of western alpine flowers - memorable in the wild and good choices for rock gardens. "Beardtongue" is the common name sometimes used for Penstemon, a North American genus with about 270 species, mostly inhabitants of western and plains states.


With close to 300 species, how does one figure out which ones to grow? Help comes from our own late...

The Beautiful and the Unobtainable: Growing Alaska Alpines Outside

James H. Fox


Before showing slides of Alaska alpine plants to groups of rock gardeners I tell them to look at the pictures carefully - this will be the best they'll ever see an Alaska alpine outside of Alaska!  Moving a plant, whether by seed, cutting, or rooted plant from a latitude of 62 or 70 degrees north to one below 45 degrees north is nothing short of a serious shock to a set of genes evolved over thousands of years to endure short, cool summers of intense, near continuous sunlight, and long, dark, debilitatingly cold winters.

Kelly Butte - Trip Report

Alexander Wright

Four of us hearty NWNARGS folk gathered this on July 9, 2016, to hike up Kelly Butte, in far southeastern King County. Kelly Butte is an old volcanic plug, which likely erupted about 20 million years ago. It's a short hike, 1.5 miles one direction, usually with fantastic views of Mount Rainier and the Stuart Range... That is, unless the peak is stuck in the middle of a cloud, as it was for us. So, bundled against the soaking mist and with eyes bent downwards for optimum flower finding, we leapt from the truck and proceeded to explore.

Autumn Tapestry

Alexander Wright


I am infamous in some circles for choosing hikes not by reading recommendations or researching trails, but by spending hours poring over maps, finding an interesting topographic or geologic or vegetation feature, then exclaiming "Let's go there!" It doesn't matter if there's a trail or not. It was bad enough when I was younger and using mainly USGS topographic maps, but the advent of Google Earth has truly unleashed the monster within. Now I can not only analyze the vegetation in surprising detail, but I can often find scraps of hunter/fisher/deer trails to add to my rhetorical armament. "I promise, there's a trail" seems to be more convincing than "those shrubs are way too tall and close together for that latitude and elevation" or "there might be a slightly odd form of a common marsh plant in the depths of that bog". The nature of the trail, you may imagine, I keep to myself. 

Rock Gardening is not just for Dinosaurs

Mark B.


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Rock Gardening Calling



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It Wasn't A Rock!



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Some Plants Are Bigger Than Others



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