Saturday, June 4, 2022 10 AM to 4 PM
Six unique and beautiful private (and one public) Whatcom County native-plant focused gardens will open to the public, each owned and cultivated by amateur botanists and native plant enthusiasts, all WNPS Koma Kulshan chapter members. Distinctive among gardens, these will all showcase the beauty and practical advantages of plants that grow natively in the Pacific Northwest.
In our region’s relatively short horticultural history, our local native plants remain undiscovered wonders to most gardeners. Volunteers will be available to answer your questions, and learning materials will be available to help you bring native plant gardening to your home.
This is a free event but pre-registration is required. Please contact Eric Worden for more information (eric [at] ericworden.seattle.wa.us)
Learn more about gardening with native plants on the WNPS web site.
- Event date and time: Saturday, June 4, 2022 10 AM to 4 PM. Please respect our hosts by limiting your visit to this date and time.
- This event is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required.
- Please click here to pre-register and to access the gardens’ addresses and other entry details.
- Some garden areas are rough and uneven. Sturdy shoes are recommended.
- Sorry, no dogs allowed in the gardens except for service dogs.
The seven gardens are listed here roughly in north to south order. You’ll get the addresses when you pre-register.
Dakota Creek Garden
This moderate-size native plant garden (approximately 1/6 acre) neighbors the Dakota Creek Kayak Launch parking lot in Blaine. It has been established in stages over the past 10 years, with rabbits being one of the greatest challenges during the process. Adjacent public lands have also been devoted to native plants. The landscape includes beautifully sculptured wood and stones designed to appear natural. Multiple habitats have been established within the garden, including a small forest, a wet area, a dry “mountain” area, and a meadow. Native plants were chosen to fit the soil type and sun exposure in different sections of the garden. A portion of the garden is now maturing with shore pines, red cedar, hemlock, and cascara. Understory shrubs and ground cover include strawberries, kinnikinick, evergreen huckleberry, and red-flowering currant. Hairy manzanita (challenging to grow) and leather leaf saxifrage are also thriving in the garden. All told, there are more than 60 native plant species in this native plant garden.
Near Semiahmoo, this ambitious suburban garden on 0.6 acres, designed in the style of a young forest, and installed only seven years ago, is now achieving glory. Where most suburban gardeners maintain a large manicured lawn between the street and the house, gardener Lyle Anderson created an idealized young forest. The moist and fertile site is divided by the driveway into sunnier and shadier sections, both with impressive diversity of species. The garden is dominated by shrubs and young trees—anchored by Alaskan Cedar, Western Larch, Garry Oak, and Black Hawthorn—with openings for tender understory plants to delight you as you meander the subtle paths within.
Located just north of the Bellingham airport, this 5-acre property has been gardened for more than 50 years by four sets of gardeners and currently cared for by Mark and Brian Turner. It’s framed on the east by an extensive native woodland border with masses of vine maples, red elderberries, thimbleberries, and salmonberries. Paths follow deer trails through 3 acres of woods carpeted with bleeding hearts, piggy-back-plant, fringecup, and nettles under red alders, a few mature conifers, and numerous young trees planted in the last seven years. There are seasonal wetlands and decaying stumps that tell the story of previous logging. The developed part of the garden features island beds with a mix of native and introduced plants. A pair of mostly-native beds out front, planted initially in 2015 and 2017, have a variety of native shrubs and perennials including four species of currants, hawthorn, serviceberry, red-twig dogwood, great camas, Cascade penstemon, and Scotch bluebells. Like most gardens, it’s a work in progress and not always impeccably manicured. Natives are also tucked into mixed perennial beds behind the house. You’ll also enjoy a rock garden with a mix of native dry-land species and a few non-native plants.
Agate Pond Preserve
More than a garden – this 100 acre property located on the east side of Squalicum Mountain is a true native plant preserve. Owner Tricia Otto has placed it under a conservation easement, permanently placing it under community protection as a wildlife refuge and balanced forest ecosystem. Since 1988, Tricia has worked to enhance native plant diversity and remove invasive species. Over 200 native species are growing here. Extensive wetlands are the primary feature, but the preserve also includes a second growth Douglas Fir forest and a one acre Midwest tall grass prairie in honor of Tricia’s mother, Lorrie Otto, and her conservation work in Wisconsin.
The wetlands, centered upon two naturalized ponds on Agate Creek, doubled in size to four acres a few years ago when a couple of beavers took up residence, dramatically changing the character of the wetlands. The wetland is best appreciated during late Spring and Summer.
Download: Agate Pond Preserve Plant List
Silver Beach Garden
In Bellingham near Lake Whatcom, this casual, naturalistic garden has grown and matured with native plants over the course of 40 years. A variety of planting areas demonstrate long-term aesthetic payoff of a native plant garden, including statuesque trees, a camas prairie area, and a verdant shady groundcover of elegant star-flowered Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum stellatum) and false lily of the valley (Maianthemum dilatum). Over 50 species are represented, including large specimens of 40 plus year old garry oak, madrone, and mountain hemlock trees, and mature large shrubs including blue elderberry, mock orange, red flowering currant, and soapberry.
Download: Silver Beach Garden Plant List
Happy Valley Garden
This native plant garden, in southside Bellingham’s Happy Valley neighborhood, has been established in stages over the past 40 years. 5,000 sq. ft. of grass lawn has been transitioned into mounds of over 60 species of native plants, as well as vegetable and fruit gardens. Ongoing site preparation and maintenance methods are featured, as well as lessons learned from chemical, manual, and mechanical weed control and xeriscaping practices. Native trees include cascara, Pacific yew, garry oak, western redcedar and juniper. A variety of wildflowers and shrubs support bird and pollinator species. Invasive plants have created the biggest challenge in establishing and maintaining the garden.
Larrabee Right of Way
This unique public native plant garden has been newly established on an abandoned and overgrown (mostly Himalayan blackberry) right-of-way by the Happy Valley Neighborhood Association in Bellingham. The new garden (less than two years old) has been cleared, designed, planted, and maintained by volunteers from the local neighborhood with financial support from the City of Bellingham and the Koma Kulshan Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society. The one-third acre garden includes a pollinator mound, a native plant hedgerow, and a stormwater pond. There are approximately 40 native plant species in the garden, including ninebark, twinberry, osoberry, red-flowering currant, Oregon grape, yarrow, and several species of rose. Unique plants in the garden include native Douglas hawthorn and camas.
Volunteers will describe the process of clearing the site and controlling weeds without using herbicides. Nearly the entire planted portion of the site was initially sheet mulched with multiple layers of cardboard and then covered with chip mulch. Occasional work parties go after the blackberry, morning glory, horsetail, and bamboo sprouts that peek through the mulch.