Finally! Actually they are two to three weeks early, but the Fairy Slippers are blooming at lower elevations here in western Washington. I visited Washington Park and Sharpe Park in the Anacortes area on Fidalgo Island Thursday and found them already at their peak. The earliest date I have for them is April 18th and at that point they were just starting to bloom, but we have found them as late as May 25 if spring weather is delayed. In any case, it was wonderful to see them.
As I have noted in previous posts these are the Western Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, distinguished from the much more common and wide-spread eastern variety by the white (rather than yellow) "beard" and by the brown markings on the mid-lobe (outer end) of the lip. It is not quite as showy as the eastern variety, but very elegant and beautiful in its own way. We hope to see the eastern variety later this month on another excursion to eastern Washington.