Wednesday Vignette – fields of blue

A few weeks ago, my 17-year-old mentioned that he would like to have seen what Oregon looked like before the settlers came and uglified it. You know, before roads were cut into hillsides, without cell phone towers breaking the horizon line, and sagging cables running overhead. On Monday night – thanks to my friend Tamara – I got a glimpse of what at least one piece of this beautiful state looks like in April – today, as well as thousands of years ago. I had seen her photos of it before, on her blog, and now I was going to get to see it in person.

It was just as stunning as I had imagined! She took me to the camas fields of Liberty Hill near St Helens, just west of Portland. We parked the cars (you know, it’s a social distancing thing) just off the road, and made the short trek up the hill, along a vernal stream that flowed from above. It was flanked on both sides by thousands of little pink flowers.


I learned that the abundant pink flowers are called Plectritis.


As we reached the top of the bluff, this carpet of blue unfolded. An unbelievable sight, surrounded by white oak trees and alder.


A detail of all this beauty…


… and an even closer look.


I’m so grateful I got to experience this place! 


But not all is well… I learned from Alyse, another blogger friend, that this breathtaking site is slated for development. Basalt mining, to be exact. Permit applications have been filed. You can read more about that here, on the website of Friends of Liberty Hill. The blue plastic ribbons tied to this tree raised some flags for me. It made me wonder if marking that tree have anything to do with the on-going permitting process – it made me uneasy to see it. 


On our way up the bluff, I saw a can some asshat had left behind. I picked it up on my way down, and brought it home for recycling (wiped both it and my hands clean after touching it, of course). Blatant evidence of  humanity’s lazy, entitled, careless stupidity is always so disappointing – no matter where you see it, but particularly in a place as serene as this. In this moment, I thought of my teenager’s words. We humans are so destructive, harmful  and full of greed.

I wish the Friends of Liberty Hill all luck in their quest to preserve this unique piece of nature. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and as I mentioned in last week’s Vignette, gardening seems to have gotten a huge upswing. I’m sure there are many causes for this, but surely, one of those reasons has to be our innate human need to connect with nature. This assertion might be a stretch of both hope and my imagination, but I’m thinking that maybe the expected extension of this Covid thing might help shift our collective psyche somewhat, toward a more gentler, and sensible treatment of our world. I hope our bedraggled selves, in rediscovering the mesmerizing art of gardening, we will also develop the sense to feel justified indignation toward those imposing irreversible harm to make a quick buck. I hope we can extend some of our newfound love and energy for nurturing plants and gardens to get behind the idea of preserving our natural heritage sites as well. Once more of us start developing and strengthening those Biophilia bonds, proposals of these kinds of outrageous assaults on natural treasures, should awaken a much broader public outrage. This is my way of spreading the word about this looming atrocity. If you agree, and feel so inclined, please alert your people to it, too. Maybe there is a way to stop this. Just maybe…

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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31 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – fields of blue

  1. A really beautiful place (spoiled by an asshat).

  2. Thank you Anna for spreading the word about this magic place. It is a treasure and if lost, nothing like it will exist.

    • annamadeit says:

      I just had to… I don’t even want to think of it disappearing – just because it’s a “convenient” place to mine basalt from. The quest for ‘convenience’ can be such a killer…

  3. Misti says:

    What a beautiful place! And I’m sorry it is going to be developed. Having the same issues around here.

    • annamadeit says:

      I’m obviously late to it, but I’m now trying to spread the word about it, in the hopes of preventing it, and instead help spread some public resistance to its demise. Best of luck on your end too, and thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • annamadeit says:

      I know… crazy. Basalt is EVERYWHERE, and camassia fields are… well, NOWHERE. I know I’m late to learning about this, but better late than never. I’m going to post this wherever I can, to alert people to this looming tragedy. It would be devastating to lose it…

  4. bergstromskan says:

    Go for it Anna!

  5. Pingback: These Two! | My Gardener Says…

  6. Tina says:

    Gorgeous set of photos, Anna. I’ll second what derrickjknight said! Like you, I hope some good will come from this Covid craziness that we’re all experiencing: greater appreciation for our natural world and our immediate environments, as well as an understanding that we must work together–or we’ll all fail together. Here’s my less serious, but kind of funny, WV:

  7. tonytomeo says:

    Wow, I did not know that anyone else knew about Saint Helens (or ‘St. Helens’). It, as well as Park City to the north, grew very fast.

  8. Kris Peterson says:

    We can only hope! Well, and agitate for the cause when we have the opportunities. The site is beautiful. Thanks to both you and Tamara for sharing it.

    • annamadeit says:

      Right? It’s one of those places one wishes would remain in peace. Like any other eco-tourism destination, it always runs the risk of succumbing to humans. It’s a fragile balance, and I’m so grateful to have experienced it.

  9. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Wonderful to see all those camassias (which only learnt about last Saturday) in bloom. They are not easily available here. What a tragedy that they are in so much danger from yet another mining project. Good luck with your protest.

  10. Cathy says:

    Absolutely wonderful experience seeing your pictures – as it was for you seeing the flowers in the life. I do so hope that this land is saved for the plants. We trash enough around us without this too.

  11. Jason Kay says:

    The masses of Camassia are stunning. Good luck to the defenders of this beautiful site, and all the others.

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