top of page

Julia Lakey - Native Plants

Understanding Native Keystone plants -  February 2024

“Native plants are the most powerful tool in our conservation toolbox; without increasing their use and protection, we will fail in our conservation efforts,” - Dr. Doug Tallamy


Plants are needed all season long for insects and birds.  Some good plants that bloom in the Fall are:

  • asters (in groupings of 3-5)

  • goldenrod

  • mountain mint

  • bee balm (monarda)

Image by Joshua J. Cotten

"There is no animal that transfers energy than caterpillars" - Doug Tallamy 

Image by Azimbek Assarov

Oak trees are essential!

Bright Clouds

Small Steps for Creating a Native Garden presented on December 2023

  •  Avoid using pesticides and talk with friends and neighbors to encourage them to do the same.

  • Order heirloom seeds for your vegetable and flower gardens. Baker Creed Heirloom Seeds has a beautiful catalogue for reference. Note:  Place your online order  ASAP these popular seeds sell out

  • Plan ahead! Buy native plants from our local Land Trust Plant Sale open this January.  Great deals to be had in buying bundles of smaller plants. ( Perhaps order some extra and raise for our own Garden Club plant sale fundraiser!

  • Read (and share) "Plant First for Nature's Needs!" informative pamphlet by our own club member Fran Brooks.


"Over 500 pages, the 2024 Whole Seed Catalog features our full collection of heirloom varieties from around the world, as well as gorgeous new photographs, recipes, seed histories, stories, and a behind-the-scenes look at the people who make Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company so special.  This item ships domestically from our warehouse within 2 - 5 business days of purchase by bulk mail, with no tracking, and can take 2-5 weeks for delivery. "

*International orders should allow up to 8 weeks for delivery.

Fast & Free shipping. Seed Orders Shipped in 2-5 days from our seed store

 "Climate Crises and Restoration of Local Ecosystems" presented on 9/11/2023

Focus on productive landscapes


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 is 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!

Image by Bankim Desai
Image by Rusty Watson
Image by Vitolda Klein
bog willow.jpg
orchid dahlia pic

"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."


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

Pollinator flowers



Don't miss the "Open Garden event on Monday, July 10th from 10-12pm

Candytufts and poppy



Rose hedge

Nutka Rose Hedge


Moth larva

The Cinnabar moth was introduced to North America to control ragwort, on which its larvae feed. The moth is named after the red mineral cinnabar because of the red patches on its predominantly black wings.  They are voracious eaters; large populations can strip entire patches of ragwort clean, 


cinnabar moth.jpg

 "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.  

wax myrtle.jpg

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 Ma
honia 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)


presented on 4/11/2022

"Only 14% of nurseries grow native plants"

"April is Native Plant Appreciation Month"


There are many beneficial uses for Stinging Nettle

Purple wood violets


Washington NWF Habitat Stewards Training Classes

March 2023

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.

Learn about:




  • 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)

Per Julia:  
"A wonderful program with experts each week!"


Dates & Times

March 7th
March 14th
March 21st
arch 28th

Tuesday evenings
m - 9pm

FEE: $20

Image by Quynh Do

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

Image by Jens Vogel
Image by Bekky Bekks

 NW Meadowscapes is the premier grower of native NW wildflowers.  Order soon and plant in cool fall weather to replicate their favorite growing conditions.

poppy  seeds

Alpine Strawberries

 "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

presented on


mountain ash.jpg
red dogwood.jpg

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.

Watercolor Butterfly 16

presented on 3/17/2022

"Native Dirt"


Use wood ash as a soil enhancer.


"Soil works for you if you work for the soil."

"Check out my new favorite book!"

- purchased at the Vashon Bookstore.

presented on 2/14/2022

"Early Spring Blooms"

heather pic.webp


(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Scotch Heather

(Calluna vulgaris)

Dandelion Seeds

Pacific Wax Myrtle and Native Huckleberry presented on 


wax myrtle.jpg
bottom of page