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  • Yellow Island, our 11-acre preserve in the San Juan Islands, is known for its colorful wildflower displays. But this spring was more dramatic than ever. Photo © Phil Green.
  • Island steward Phil Green says this spring’s bloom was the best he’s seen in 13 years. Photo © Phil Green.
  • Harsh, red Indian Paintbrush dominated this year like no other, and the timing was such that camas and buttercups reached peak bloom at the same time. Photo © Joe Basirico.
  • With 1,500 visitors every year, Yellow Island is the centerpiece of the Conservancy’s marine conservation efforts in the San Juans. Photo © Joe Basirico.
  • The Conservancy purchased this preserve in 1979 from the family of Lew and Elizabeth Dodd, who homesteaded the island in 1947 and lived there for years in harmony with nature. Photo © Phil Green.
  • The Dodds lived in a small beach cabin constructed from driftwood and rock. They named a nearby flower-covered hillside “Hummingbird Hill.” It’s Hummingbird Hill that blossomed with so much color this spring. Photo © Phil Green.
  • Phil Green, our island steward, says this year’s dramatic display can be attributed to several factors. Photo © Phil Green.
  • Camas has a normal first bloom date near April 1. This year it didn't bloom until April 19. Photo © Joe Basirico.
  • The peak of the camas bloom was near the end of the third week of May, just when buttercups were starting to go to seed and paintbrush was hitting its peak. Photo © Phil Green.
  • The second factor affecting the bloom was last year's controlled burn on Hummingbird Hill. Photo © Joe Basirico.
  • After a burn, the shrubs and dead grasses are eliminated and the flowers are that much more obvious. All the colors of the various species jump out at you because you are not looking through a sea of dead grasses. Photo © Joe Basirico.
  • One other factor was the cool, damp spring. By some standards this was the coldest spring on record. Photo © Joe Basirico.
  • Cold weather at night is like putting your flowers in the refrigerator overnight to make them last them longer. The dampness meant all the vegetation was more lush. Photo © Phil Green.
  • Add it all up and the total is the most spectacular color display in years. Photo © Joe Basirico.
Yellow Island Shows Its Colors
Spring 2011 brought the biggest wildflower display in years to our island preserve

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