Washington Park, a 400 acre, undeveloped city park of the city of Anacortes, Washington, is one of our favorite places for wildflowers. It is on Fidalgo Island, on the west side of the city and overlooks the Straits of San Juan de Fuca. Its cliffs, especially on the west side, are full of granite balds that support a unique and wonderful plant population.
We have already been there several times this spring and the last visit found the Fairy Slippers and the other spring wildflowers already blooming. They are blooming almost two weeks earlier than normal, probably on account of the very mild winter we had. The Fairy Slippers were at their peak and the earliest date I have for them starting to bloom is April 20th.
The Fairy Slippers are Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, the Western Fairy Slipper, distinguished from var. americana, the Eastern Fairy Slipper by the lack of yellow color and brown markings on the lip. This variety is found only in the far west and is not quite as showy as the eastern variety. It is a tiny plant only 8 inches (20 cm) tall at its tallest.
The other wildflowers we found blooming (shown in that order) were Blue-eyed Mary, Meadow Death Camas, Seep-spring Monkey Flower, Field Chickweed, Spring Gold, Prairie Star, Sea Blush, and in the rocks at Green Point, the Few-flowered Shooting Star. Some were just starting to bloom, but all were earlier than usual.
One other favorite wildflower blooming on the southwest side of the park was the Oregon Fawn Lily. They were in abundance above the cliffs where the cliffs drop down to Green Point and we caught them at the peak of their blooming season. They are certainly one of our mo9st delicate wildflwoers, but difficult to photograph if there is any breeze.