Playing among giants at Redwood National Park and a hike in Fern Canyon


Want to feel ant-sized and incredibly young? Any number of national parks will have you marveling over nature’s immensity and your own small place in it. But Redwood National Park, located along the northern coast of California near Oregon, shrinks you right down to bug size as soon as you walk among these ancient, gigantic trees.


We drove through the park on a family road trip along the Pacific Coast in mid-August. It’s hard to comprehend how big these trees are, even when you’re standing among them. They’re so tall you can’t see the tops of many of them. Their soldier-straight trunks soar skyward up to 360 feet — the length of a football field — and disappear among the branches.


Fallen trees give you a better perspective.


But you need to see people next to them for scale.


The trees here are coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), and they’re the tallest living things on earth. They normally live for 500 to 1,100 years, although some may exceed 2,000 years of age. What was happening in the world in 17 A.D.? Some redwoods alive today were just growing from seed then!


Nearly all have been lost to logging, sadly. Ninety-six percent of the original old-growth coast redwoods have been logged, according to the park’s website. The park contains 45% of the remaining protected old-growth redwoods in California.


I’d read about nearby Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, located 50 miles north of Eureka, and was keen to explore it. The cool, narrow canyon feels primeval. Steven Spielberg thought so too. He filmed a scene from Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World here.


The canyon’s 30- to 50-foot high walls, carved by Home Creek over thousands of years, are wallpapered with shaggy green ferns. The creek meanders along the canyon floor, which is littered with the broken trunks of redwoods, knocked over in storms or washed downstream in floods.


Despite a rugged 4-mile drive on unpaved roads and across several shallow streams to reach the parking area for it, we were far from the only ones with the same idea on this Thursday morning. The 1/2-mile trail is flat and, aside from a risk of wet feet and having to clamber over and under some fallen trees, easy for hikers of all ages.


We were all dwarfed by the scenery.


The canyon walls drip with moisture and rivulets of water from the clifftop, and several species of fern and other native plants thrive in a vertical garden created by Mother Nature.


It was like being inside an emerald jewel box.


That’s how small we felt all day among the redwoods.


On our way into the park we saw a few cars pulled over and people taking pictures, so naturally we stopped too. Some Roosevelt elk were enjoying a mid-morning lie-down, just their brown faces visible in the tawny grass.


Just north of Klamath on Highway 101, I spotted a gigantic Paul Bunyan looming over a kitschy roadside attraction called Trees of Mystery. Like every traveler before me, I whipped our car into the parking lot to get a better look. Once again, we were ant sized.


Of course Babe the Blue Ox was there too, and well endowed.


A few more goofy photo ops later…


…including with Bigfoot…


…and we were on our way again, heading northeast toward Crater Lake, wildfires be damned.

Up next: Our visit to breathtaking Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. For a look back at part 2 of my visit to Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, including their Succulents, Ocean Trail, and Dahlia Gardens, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Datura’s morning glow


The datura (Datura wrightii) I planted in the front garden a few years ago has petered out and needs replacing. But this volunteer that self-seeded in the back garden is growing beautifully. Moreover, it asks nothing from me except an occasional pinching back of stems that threaten to overpower nearby plants.


Almost every evening it unfurls white, fragrant trumpets that glow all night and into the next morning.


Such a heady fragrance! And aren’t the spurs on the folded-linen flowers interesting?


A beauty, but all parts are deadly if ingested, so be cautious about planting it if you have pets or children that like to graze.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Plant This: Paleleaf yucca shines in dry shade


Like a woman who’s grown tired of covering up the gray, I’m letting my silver self shine — in the garden, that is. Instead of bemoaning the dominant silver-green to olive-green palette that comes so naturally to Austin’s hot, often droughty climate, I’m letting it rip.

And I couldn’t be happier. Arranged en masse, our native paleleaf yucca (Yucca pallida), paired here with a silver carpet of woolly stemodia (Stemodia lanata), is visually cooling during a hot summer and needs little water and no pruning or fussing to look its best.


The dusty blue, sword-like leaves have a pale stripe along the leaf margins, giving them a little extra “shine” in dry dappled shade. Like most yuccas, it thrives in sun too. I often see it growing wild along rocky trails around Austin, so you know it won’t be begging for TLC in your garden, provided it has good drainage.


While it does tend to offset (produce new plants that cluster alongside the mother plant), rather than remaining in star-shaped, solitary form, it doesn’t grow so large as to overpower smaller spaces. Individual plants grow to about 1 to 1-1/2 feet tall and wide. Bloom stalks bearing bell-shaped white flowers shoot up in spring, but the deer mow these down in my garden. No matter. I’m growing these silver belles for their foliage.

It’s hardy to zone 6 or 7, according to online sources, which probably depends on having sharp drainage to avoid the dreaded cold-and-wet that so many xeric (dry-loving) plants dislike.

Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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