early spring at Clark’s Creek

Clark’s Creek Park in Puyallup, Washington, to be precise.  I discovered this park last August, and at the time I wondered what it would look like in other seasons.  I meant to get back there in the fall when the big leaf maples turn school bus yellow, but somehow it didn’t happen.  Ah, well.  There’s always next year.

But we’ve been having the first 60+dF days so far this year this week, and I decided I needed to go for a walk.

This is what I saw:

Robin and worm
Robin and worm        

When I first got there, a light shower had just ended, and the robins were out full force on the park’s baseball field, worm-hunting.  This fellow was quite successful.

Pieris
Pieris

The landscaping around the parking lot is rather pretty.  This shrub is a pink-tinged Pieris japonica, one of the prettiest early spring bloomers around.

A huge pink heather
A huge pink heather

The heather’s been blooming for almost a month now, but it’s still gorgeous.

Clark's Creek with alder catkins
Clark’s Creek with alder catkins

This is Clark’s Creek.  The bits dangling from the tree are alder catkins.  Pretty in the wild, but I used to have an alder tree in my yard, and if it wasn’t dripping catkins it was dripping twigs and leaves.  I was glad when the condo association decided it didn’t need its roots in our septic system and cut it down.

Maple? flowers?
Maple? flowers?

I’m not sure what these are, except that they’re some sort of very stamen-y blossom.  They may well be the blossoms of big leaf maples.  The tree was certainly big enough.

Mallard and friend
Mallard and friend

Your standard mallard, and a very similar but brownheaded version.  Clark’s Creek attracts lots of waterfowl, ducks and geese and coots among them.

Pussy willows
Pussy willows

The pussy willows have gone past the fuzzy stage and are very stamen-y now, too.  Still awfully pretty, though.

Boy and heron
Boy and heron

The land across the creek is private property, mostly people’s back yards.  These two sculptures were alongside the permanently-sandbagged creek bank.

Oregon grape, Oregon's state flower
Oregon grape, Oregon’s state flower

This is what Oregon grape (mahonia) looks like in full bloom.  Isn’t it lovely?

Golden shrub
Golden shrub

I’m not sure what this little shrub is, or whether the color is new spring growth or the color it’ll be all year.

Wetlands buffer
Wetlands buffer

The city’s been doing some wetlands restoration and protecting their work with a new split rail fence.

Telling us about ripaprian [sic] restoration
Telling us about ripaprian [sic] restoration
This is the explanatory sign about what they’ve been doing.  Note the creative spelling of ‘riparian.’ [g]

Wet tennis courts
Wet tennis courts

The tennis courts after a spring rain.  When I was at the park a couple of days ago, in the warm sunshine, the courts were buzzing with people.

Indian plum
Indian plum

This is Indian plum (Oemleria).  It’s a native early blooming shrub.

Salmonberry blossom
Salmonberry blossom

This is salmonberry, Rubus sp., which means it’s closely related to blackberries, only the berries themselves are peachy-orange when ripe, and mealy rather than juicy.  It’s another native.

Skunk cabbage spathes
Skunk cabbage spathes

This is skunk cabbage (Lysichiton), and there’s a reason it’s called that.  A big patch of it will make you want to hold your nose.  But the big blossoms (technically they’re spathes — the tiny flowers cluster on the stalk in the center) pop up early early, and, as long as I don’t get close enough to smell them, they’re a glad sight in the spring.

Early azalea
Early azalea

And back to the landscaping around the parking lot, just before I left to go home.  Some rhododendrons and azaleas bloom really early (most bloom in May).  There used to be one in the yard of a duplex I once rented that bloomed in January.  This azalea isn’t quite that early, but it’s still awfully pretty.

And that was my walk through Clark’s Creek Park today, on a damp early spring afternoon.