Earning My Green Thumb

I give many props to all the people out there who Identify plants and/or garden. Having the ability to identity these green organisms is challenging! How cool is it to be able to spot a plant and know its name, history, and potential uses, such as medicinal or as food sources. Along with plant identification, gardening is another skill that is just as challenging. Possessing the knowledge to create a suitable environment for plants to grow is incredible. I mean, there’s so much to take into consideration to ensure the proper resources are present to encourage plant life (soil chemistry, hydrology, predator deterrence, to name a few). These two different skills are very fun when combined and allow an individual to gain a wonderful and fun hobby.

 

Botanists and field rangers joining forces to work on the native garden.

Fellow Field Ranger Madison working on her green thumb.

 

So why are we talking about plants?? It’s because I just assisted in the creation of a future native garden at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center! The visitor center recently came up with an idea to clear a small patch of land that was relatively unkempt and crowded with invasive blackberry plants. Our plan was to clear it up and remove the blackberryies and most of the false lily of the valley that dominated the small area. So far, the plants that are allowed to grow are thimbleberry, salmonberry, evergreen huckleberry, lady fern, bracken fern, sword fern and a few false lily of the valley. We even planted three new plants: Hooker’s fairy bells, geranium, and yarrow. The nascent native garden project is not finished, and we will most likely add more plants to it as time progresses.

 

Evergreen Huckleberry! It will produce berries in late summer.

Salal! Another berry-producing shrub that is extremely adaptable to a wide range of environments.

 

So, the funny thing about all the plants I just named for you is that I didn’t know their names or their appearance before helping! Okay, I might have know lady fern and sword fern. That’s it. After a few hours helping out, I became familiarized with seven new plants! I’m very excited with this newfound knowledge. Just like back home when I began identifying trees, it gave me a new perspective of my area. No longer was each tree the same, but rather a different species that’s different from the next one. It allowed me to appreciate the diversity in an area or notice the boring homogeneity. By acquiring the ability to identify trees, areas that I knew well suddenly had a new twist. The parks I visited or streets I walked on suddenly looked different to me. It’s this sense of better understanding an area and appreciating the diversity or noticing the lack thereof which is what we hope our visitors will gain with our native garden. We’ll add tags on the plants that will label the identity of each respective plant, to facilitate the ID process for our visitors. We advocate stewardship and encourage people to take a step back and appreciate nature. Our native garden project is just another effort that the Siuslaw National Forest is using to help us reach our goals of connecting people to nature.

 

Quite the odd plant we found. It was moving and didn’t have green on it. Weird. (Just kidding. We found a cute little salamander).

Thimbleberry! It got this name because the small fruits it produces resemble a thimble when viewed from the top.

 

Edder Antunez
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