Julia Lakey - Native Plants
"Climate Crises and Restoration of Local Ecosystems" presented on 9/11/2023
Focus on productive landscapes
"Dahlias that are more single-flowered with a noticeable array of stamens are very popular with pollinators. These varieties (such as the orchid dahlia) offer open centers, which makes the pollen highly accessible, so they won’t have to go digging for their food."
Two questions motivate me: What can I do personally about the climate crisis? How can I restore my local ecosystem?
Now those sound like topics for the UN and the National Park System and Land Trusts. But actually, private landowners control the greatest acreage in the US. Through our activities in our garden club, including our plant sale, we can address both of these questions.
“Preserving and restoring ecosystems is the foundation to combating climate change.” The biologist Camille Parmesan said that in the first episode of the PBS documentary Evolution Earth. (You can go to PBS online and watch it.) She has worked 40 years studying Edith’s Checkerspot Butterfly. She wrote a Nature article in 1996 that was the first clear demonstration of a species shifting where it lives in response to climate change. Many colleagues ridiculed her because it was such a new revelation. She moved on to a global meta-analysis of 4,000 species with the same conclusion. Right now, half of all animals globally are on the move due to climate change. In this country, there are destroyed homes and communities under threat because another natural disaster will wipe them out again.
“Everything we love dearly was borne out of a stable environment. As we destabilize it, the foundations of society reliant on a stable climate start to deteriorate.” (C. Parmesan, Evolution Earth, Episode 1)
So who can guide gardeners in restoring our local ecosystem? Professor Tallamy, especially in his recent book Bringing Nature Home. He’s an entomologist and climate activist.
We can’t use the sun’s energy to power our bodies. We need plants to be able to ‘eat’ sunlight. What creatures are best at transferring that energy? Insects! But most are fussy about what they eat, and especially host plants for a new generation to develop. Caterpillars are loaded with fat and protein. They enable 3-6 young birds to leave the nest in under two weeks.
We need to focus on a productive landscape. Usually we think of that as producing human food or plenty of blooms. Doug Tallamy defines a productive landscape as planting for the largest number of edible insects. Native plants are necessary, because insects have evolved to need them. However, keystone plant species are what the insect world really needs. Keystone species boost caterpillar numbers by 75%.
Here are the keystone species Tallamy cites: Willows (Salix Falicales), Garry Oak or Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana), the native strawberry (Fragaria vesca), lupine, asters, and sunflowers. (For a fun YouTube video, look at the bloke explaining “Why I Love Wild Strawberries.”)
We can make these keystone species prominent in our home gardens AND available in abundance during our annual plant sale.
Starting this month, here’s what you can do in your yard. Stand in each area of your garden with a notepad and your camera. Take a photo so you remember the plants that will die back to the ground this winter. Begin deciding what to do with plants that have disappointed you or have grown too large. If a plant needs more shade/sun/moisture, do I have a place for it? Make a note of new spot OR that you’re going to pot it for our plant sale.
Is the growth habit unpleasing? Life is too short and our gardening time too valuable to have disappointing plants in our gardens! That disappointment may tickle another gardener who discovers it at our plant sale. Do you have volunteer plants in the wrong place? I dig up dozens of native red twig dogwood since my neighbor has a hedge of them. I try to grow them for two years in their volunteer spots and then pot them in February or March at the latest and place them in my garden club nursery area: close to the house and shaded from the hottest sunlight. If you dig up plants in the fall and pot them, they will need protection from freezing. That’s why I swing into action in late winter.
Once you decide what you’re removing, then decide what to search out for adding to your garden. More plants to feed caterpillars, more berries throughout the season for birds, more self-seeding annuals, more perennials for pollinators.
While the garden rests, you have two well-illustrated online resources to guide you in new plant choices.
National Wildlife Federation, the folks that helped us certify Vashon as a Native Habitat Community, has developed a Native Plant Finder with the assistance of Professor Tallamy. Click on this link to explore it. Enter your zip code and it customizes the list to our area. It even saves plants that interest you for a final list!
Audubon has developed a similar resource for selecting plants that benefit specific birds. What birds would you enjoy seeing regularly in your yard?
In addition, get your hands on Nature’s Best Hope by Douglas Tallamy. When you’re done, mark a few sections and share with a neighbor who has an immense lawn or still uses pesticides. It can be a game changer!
Come visit the native plantings at Matsuda Farms and the blooming Pollinator Garden
"Native Plants at the Pollinator Garden Project" presented on 6/12/2023
Don't miss the "Open Garden event on Monday, July 10th from 10-12pm
Candytufts and poppy
Nutka Rose Hedge
"Interesting Native Plants in the NW - presented by Sue Carper on 3/13/2023
Sue Carper, of Little Bird Gardens, brought three native plant specimens from their nursery and gave an informative summary of each.
Pacific Wax Myrtle, Myrica Californica
Pacific Wax Myrtle is an evergreen shrub or small tree, and is native to the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. Pacific Wax Myrtle grows in full sun in coastal areas, and does best in afternoon shade in inland areas. An excellent hedge or screen along the coast as it is very tolerant of wind. Pacific Wax Myrtle transfers nitrogen and water and other nutrients to various other plants in the garden, and reduces the need for additional fertilizer and irrigation. Myrica californica can also be sheared for a more formal-looking hedge, if desired. (Grows to 30' tall by 12'wide).
Oregon Grape, Mahonia Aquifolia
Oregon Grape is an evergreen shrub to 6 feet with creeping rhizomes. It's native from N. Calif. to B.C.. It doesn't mind sun or shade is best with regular water but drought tolerant. Oregon Grape has edible berries birds love (they are best used in jelly). Deer will bother only in heavy deer areas.
Mahonia aquifolium tolerates clay and seasonal flooding.
Mahonia aquifolium is great for a bird garden.
Foliage of Mahonia aquifolium has color reddish-green and is evergreen.
Flower of Mahonia aquifolium has color yellow.
Fruit of Mahonia aquifolium is edible.
(grows to 6 to 8' tall, good in sun or shade, good on slopes and deer resistant)
Silk Tassel Bush, Garrya elliptica
Silk Tassel bush is a six foot tall evergreen shrub with very showy male flowers hanging in long white catkins from the end of the branches. Silk-tassel likes full sun, and part sun. Silk Tassel Bush makes a great foundation plant or can be used for an evergreen hedge. Silk Tassel bush is very drought tolerant.
(grows to 12' tall and wide and is deer resistant)
There is a good mature specimen in the Arboretum Winter Garden)
Washington NWF Habitat Stewards Training Classes
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is offering a specialized, multi-week online workshop (via Zoom) to connect you with resources to create and restore wildlife habitat in backyards, schoolyards, and in your community.
Learn from local conservation professionals and current NWF Habitat Stewards while participating in this interactive, fun, and highly informative series! Become a Habitat Steward volunteer with National Wildlife Federation and be supported to learn more about your interests and local opportunities.
SOIL GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE
POLLINATORS (BEES) and more
Virtual Trainings will take place from 6pm to 9pm on Tuesdays in March (7th, 14th, 21st, 28th). Optional field opportunites will be posted throughout the months of March and April.
NOTE: You must attend all four online trainings in order to receive your certification. Students/Teachers: Registration is free! All graduates may receive a free pass to the Washington State Fair April 13th to 23rd, 2023 (when they volunteer to work the booth for three hours)
"A wonderful program with experts each week!"
Dates & Times
6pm - 9pm
Photo credit - Karen Dale
The Pollinator Garden is brimming with seeds from at least two dozen types of flowers. Bring containers and gather to your heart’s content!
The garden, located at the Matsuda Farm, is available anytime. Access is via the gated dirt road north of the old K-2 building on the main highway.
Would you consider joining our Pollinator Garden team? We’re a group of islanders and meet informally about 3 times a month during the growing season.
Get in touch to learn more!
"The Pollinator Garden Project & Collecting Seeds" presented on 10/10/2022
NW Meadowscapes is the premier grower of native NW wildflowers. Order soon and plant in cool fall weather to replicate their favorite growing conditions.
"Woodland (native) Strawberries" presented on 6/13/2022
Create an insect watering station!
Alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are a tiny type of strawberry known for their delicious, aromatic wild-strawberry taste. They are flavorful, luxurious, and extremely cute! Unlike their larger grocery-store counterparts, alpine and woodland berries haven’t been bred for size. These little beauties are all about the flavor! Alpine strawberries aren’t exactly a high-production crop, but they certainly are well worth growing in your garden.
"The berries have intense flavor and the leaves can be used in salads" - Julia
Mountain Ash and
Red Osier Dogwood
Julia gives us an update on the development of the Pollinator Garden and the certification of Vashon Island as a National Wildlife Habitat. Vashon is now a Wildlife Habitat Community with the National Wildlife Federation. We now join over 260 communities certified nationwide.
Create your own Pollinator Garden as Julia shares with us the "how to" steps. Click on the botton below for resources and watch the Presentation.