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Dear Gardeners,

Can you believe August is already here? I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy while enjoying the beautiful weather. I will outline some program updates below, plus share some of this season’s favorite wildflowers.

While SOREC has moved into Phase II as of late June and is open on a limited basis to the public, we have decided to continue with Virtual Plant Clinic, and not open the Plant Clinic in person until there is a significant drop in cases. The health and safety of you, our volunteers, is of utmost importance.

We reopened the demonstration gardens to work on a limited basis in June, and that has been going really well. Thanks to all the GEMs and volunteers who are coming out – you got the gardens back into shape in no time! Thank you all also for following the protocols set out, and respecting the schedule and participant limit we have in place.

I hope that others have found joy in this year’s truly remarkable wildflower season, amidst the turmoil the world has been facing these last several months. Here are some favorites I have encountered on recent hikes, mostly in the Ashland Watershed and near the Siskiyou Crest (of course while following physical distancing and trail closure guidelines!).

I encountered vast meadows of blooming monument plant (Frasera speciosa) on a hike near Wagner Butte in mid-June. Monument plant is a fascinating member of the Gentian family; it is a monocarpic perennial, meaning that it grows for years, but only flowers once in its lifetime. Monument plants will grow for 22-80 years, flower once, and then die (Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory). This is a mast flowering species, which means there are significant bloom events every 2-7 years, typically following an unusually wet summer 4 years preceding the bloom event (Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory). “Mast seeding, also known as masting, mast flowering, masting behaviour or mast fruiting, is synchronous and highly variable seed production among years by a population of perennial plants (Ims, 1990; Kelly, 1994; Kelly et al ., 2008)” (Pearse et al., 2016).

While mountain biking on a more remote trail in the Ashland watershed, I was lucky enough to come across both phantom orchid (Cephalanthera austiniae) and striped coralroot (Corallorhiza striata) in one day. These are both members of the orchid family, and are myco-heterotrophic, meaning they obtain nutrients from the mycorrhizzal fungi which they parasitize, instead of photosynthesizing.

 Both plants lack chlorophyll, which makes for a truly unique and sometimes ethereal appearance.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and stay safe!

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