Thursday, December 15, 2016

Let's Go! The Oregon Coast

A million years ago it was summer and we were all feeling warm, soft sand on our tootsies. OK, it was just a few months ago, August to be exact, but the cold of December almost makes me forget. The Oregon coast is a very special place to me, having practically grown up on its sandy beaches. As kids, every weekend we could break away, we would cram into Mom's giant, yellow AMC Matador and just go mindlessly. These days, yes, I pay much more attention to the plants around me.


To the sea!


Our first day at Rockaway Beach, we went for a walk down by the breakwater jetty. I spotted a very pretty but invasive and introduced species, Cakile martima.

It has succulent leaves and pink flowers and comes from Europe. Commonly known as sea rocket, it spreads by seeds in sandy areas. Thankfully, it is not overly invasive.


Sea rocket on the left, but bunch grasses dominate these sandy dunes. The jetty can be seen on the horizon line, across the water.


Continuing on my walk before hitting the beach, I spotted a familiar sight. Here's a plant that I love to see spread. Salal or Gaultheria shallon, a native, evergreen shrub that forms thickets when happy. In the Willamette Valley it is primarily seen in wooded areas. Here at the coast where the weather is mild it forms rather tall thickets.


Here it mixes with grasses, also in full sun with no ill effect. Just beyond the dunes off to the upper left is the ocean.


A native aster, it could be Aster occidentalis, now renamed as Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum. There's a mouthful. It might be Douglas's aster, or Aster subspicatus, now known as Symphyotrichum subspicatum. In either case, it's a pretty, native wildflower. 


Here at the edge of the forested area, salal and grasses begin to dominate.


 Native sword fern or Polystichum munitum seen here in full sun. In the cooler, wetter months this would likely appear much deeper green. Here, although a little sunburned, it is nonetheless thriving in this very mild climate. I believe that Mycrica californica or Californa wax myrtle is the shrub in the center. The take-away for me here is the naturalistic look with mixed grasses, ferns and shrubs. They all blend together even though each one might prefer slightly different conditions, shade for the fern, for example. From left to right the coastal forest meets the scrub lands which transitions into pine trees. Beyond those trees to the left is the sand and ocean.


Same place, different angle.

Along this sunny walk towards the water, I spotted many Myrica californica or California wax myrtle shrubs. This native, evergreen shrub is great for screening or pruned up as a specimen. Its leaves are fragrant and in my experience it's a relatively low-maintenance plant.


With evergreen handsome linear leaves and berries to feed the birds, you can't go wrong with this shrub if you have the space for it.


Along the coast Vaccinium ovatum or evergreen huckleberry could be found in huge thickets, the berries ripe for the picking. Although a bit tart, they would make a delicious pie. With some sugar.


The little evergreen leaves of Vaccinium ovatum. This is a shrub invaluable for shade here in Oregon. It is slow-growing but provides so much to wildlife in the form of flowers for pollinators and food for birds and small animals. It also provides cover for wildlife. Its evergreen nature means it anchors that woodland garden especially during the fall and winter months when perennials have gone dormant.


A typical sight on the coast - pine trees with an under-story of native shrubs such as Vaccinium ovatum in this case, on sandy soils.



Moving along. Walking down the jetty, I spied this work of art.



The view from our hotel room was a treat. Sand dunes and ocean ahead, we took advantage of every minute outside that we could. I think the area ahead is what you would call "coastal prairie" dominated by bunching grasses, lupines and the like.


Here is a lupine in the coastal prairie area mentioned above, likely Lupinus littoralis or seashore lupine.


A dungeness crab shell and seaweed. When I was a child, we used to love to run around and jump on these, smashing them into bits (as kids do). That is until the time my grandmother told me it was bad luck to break a whole crab shell, that it would rain the next day at the beach or some other daunting threat. To this day I leave them alone.



I don't know my seaweeds, but I do know quantity when I see it. Just one of those ocean phenomenons, I'm sure it was washed out to sea the next day. Facilities Manager, in the red, is glad he does not have to load it into a wheelbarrow and then hod it somewhere uphill.


For some reason along this particular beach there were about 20 of these amazing driftwood forts. This was the best of them in my opinion and I was a little obsessed with it. I spent a lot of time wandering around looking for the best angle and just enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by driftwood. This one even has a little corral.





Did I mention that plants grow very well here? 


I believe this is Dracaena Cordyline australis. In any case this plant would be tender where I live in zone 7b - 8a. Here, as I've mentioned, the very mild climate is ideal for growing a wide range of plants.


Sunset just beginning. When you see this golden color you know the show is almost over for the day.


 A little more golden...


A little more orange...


Bravo.


Toes in the sand is a very good feeling, one I will not experience for several months until our next visit to the coast.

Here in Oregon, we have a surprising variety of climates. Most well-known for our "Oregon sunshine" (rain) that runs north to south in the Willamette Valley, we also have vast regions of high desert, prairie, dry arid lands, deep forests, swamps, sand dunes, wetlands and of course, coastal regions. Each one is uniquely beautiful in my mind. I hope you have enjoyed a very very abbreviated look at one near and dear to my heart, the Oregon coast. I thought it might be a little real sunshine for such a cold December day.

A special thanks goes out to my Chickadee Gardens Mom who made this wonderful family trip possible this summer. Mom, you rock and we all LOVED it.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Until next time, thank you for reading and happy gardening!


19 comments :

  1. Thanks for the vicarious beach visit. It's nice looking at these photos, with everything covered in snow outside. You know I love the coast, too. Rockaway Beach is the only place I've ever seen mole crabs, though on the last few trips my family made there we didn't see any. The "dracaeana" is Cordyline australis.

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    1. Aaah, thank you for the i.d., Evan! I appreciate it. Yes, it seemed a nice escape to vicariously visit a sunny beach...how much snow do you have this morning?

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  2. Remember sunshine? Nice work, Sweetie, on this cold, snow-piled day!

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    1. Sunshine...what's that? I cannot recall the feel of sunshine on my face. Maybe if I stand on the heater all day like Hobbes does it will spark a memory.

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  3. I can't wait to explore more of the coast. Great photos!

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    1. Oh, we can't wait for you to explore more of the coast too via your great blog!! :)

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  4. Oregon coast is on my list of spots to visit someday soon. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. I hope you get a chance, Alan. There is so much to see, it's really a special place. Plus, the beaches are all public.

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  5. Those late-day shots at the end are magical. I am transported.

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  6. Even here in SoCal, where today the skies are gray and it's cold (our version of cold), this post warmed me up. You have a beautiful coastline! Too much of ours is obscured with giant houses.

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    1. Great! I'm glad you were were warmed up a bit. Yes, the houses thing...that's a tricky one. As I mentioned above, the beaches here are all public, so there is plenty of access and scenic photo opportunities.

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  7. This post was a lovely diversion on a cold winter day. That's a great shot of the sunset over the sand.

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    1. Diversion good! Glad it worked :)

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  8. Very inspiring. One of my favorite stretches of beach, quiet and unassuming, been going here so many years. I was once one of those dedicated builders of forts. (Nice picture of that one--I'm glad you were obsessed!) Cordyline australis (thanks Evan!)--I never noticed they grew here, and so old! Perhaps I was preoccupied with other things :)

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    1. That's so cool, Alyse! I LOVED them...it was really cool one morning when I did not have my camera and the fog was lifting to a blue sky day. The fog hung around in this fort making it look like something out of a Medieval tale. Really moving.

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  9. Oh it looks like you had a wonderful time! We're headed to Rockaway Beach for Christmas weekend, would you mind sharing where you stayed and what you thought of it? (Email me) we researched, but in the end just found a place via the Internet, I'm a bit worried.

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    1. Lucky you! I will send info to you now. For the recommendation, it was the Ocean Rogue Inn which was super inexpensive, clean and fab. I'll regret posting this as it's such a steal of a place, now everyone will want to go, right? But they deserve the business.

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  10. You have captured all the beauties and scene around them so nicely. Loved the way you have captured the golden color of sunset. Pacific beaches have much beauty unlike the Atlantic beaches (perhaps except Florida). What a wonderful place. Now I am longing to go there.

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