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Silver Beach Native Plant Garden Update | 7/26/2012

posted Apr 16, 2012, 10:52 AM by City of Bellingham   [ updated Jul 26, 2012, 2:26 PM ]

Silver Beach Native Plant Garden

Updates on the Silver Beach Native Plant Garden from Sarah Bolivar, the City's AmeriCorps intern. Learn more about how Sarah is working with school children from our community to mulch and plant native plants at this site located in the Silver Beach Neighborhood. Contact smbolivar@cob.org for more information.
July 7, 2012
Though the rain (and other variables) halted our work party on June 30th, we were able to get outdoors on Saturday, July 7th.  Community members came out and joined in removing blackberry and weeds that were suffocating the native plants.  It was a sunny, beautiful day for working outside!  We learned how to tell the difference between Himalayan blackberry and native trailing blackberry, as well as saw a wide array of bugs (which is great for the soil!).  Two young volunteers, though a little warm, were not defeated and courageously battled blackberry roots while learning to identify native plants by playing "I Spy with my Little Eye."  The Black Drop and the Bagelry have been gracious supporters of the garden and donated once more on this day.  
Since our first work party, we have planted more than 200 native plants, donated more than 200 volunteer hours, and spread 70 yards of mulch.  If you wish to support the garden, you can tell your neighbors about its role as a community space, keep an eye out so others do not litter at the site, and be on the lookout for future work parties.  Thank you for all your support!
May, 2012
Over the course of three days, some of Squalicum High School's AP Environmental Science students worked on the Silver Beach Native Plant Garden.  By weeding and removing blackberry, they were able to provide much needed maintenance!  Students did research on tent caterpillars, which had promptly infested the red alder, as well as read about canary grass, which had grown to its full and feral splendor.  Students learned tent caterpillars are native and do not generally kill trees, although they can inflict damage to certain species.  After the students completed their works outdoors, they gave a presentation to the rest of the class.  One student, Mason Houseman, has decided to make the garden his senior project.  It has been wonderful to see youth become invested in the success of this garden!
April 27, 2012
On April 27, the Whatcom Hills Waldorf 6th graders completed the last planting work party of the spring season! Over the past few weeks, volunteers have successfully planted more than 200 plants around the garden's border. It is best for Western Washington gardeners to install native plants in the fall and early spring - while there is abundant rain - for the roots to fully establish. The plants will then not require much watering during the summer.

With the generous help from Homestead Habitats, a local organization providing consulting and gardening services, we had professional expertise and a variety of tools to properly install all plants. This time, we focused on the northern portion of the site, which has clay soils and more moisture due to a nearby drainage ditch.  We planted serviceberry, kinnikinnick, salal, red currant and a hairy manzanita. All these plants offer delicious berries for wildlife to feast upon. During snack break, we ate bagels donated by The Bagelry and took in the vista of Lake Whatcom. We only had two hours to install all the plants, but fortunately, Conservation Contracting, an organization familiar with the site, lent a hand and helped us mulch before the students had to leave.  Thank you to all the amazing volunteer groups that are making this project possible!

As we prepare for the summer, we will need community residents and groups to help provide general maintenance, e.g. weeding and building trails. If you are interested in learning more or are ready to sign up, please contact Sarah at smbolivar@cob.org.
April 14, 2012
On April 14, The Silverwing Bats and Bald Eagles from the Wild Whatcom Girls' Explorers' Club welcomed Saturday's sunshine by planting salal and mock orange at the Silver Beach Native Plant Garden. Salal is a commonly seen evergreen shrub that produces berries for a variety of wildlife. Mock orange's fragrant white flowers attract butterflies and residents alike. Though the girls have had experience gardening, the Washington Conservation Corps helped to reinforce some basic principles, such as the "ring of life". After planting, volunteers were able to enjoy snacks contributed from our local Fred Meyer and coffee from The Black Drop. When we were ready to be active again, Lo from Kaleidoscope Community Yoga led us in various group poses.  The girls had fun balancing and building poses collaboratively. Wildlife encounters included a hummingbird, eagles circling the sky, two deer, and a shy little garden snake. This day was a great example of community collaboration with the help of Wild Whatcom, the WCC, and Kaleisdoscope Community Yoga.

April 6, 2012
On April 6, children from Sterling Meadows came out to the Silver Beach Native Plant Garden. After they arrived, the Washington Conservation Corps crew members did a planting demonstration with vine maple along the stream bank. Vine maple is a really beautiful deciduous native that has bright red leaves during fall. It is also generally found with red alder, which is already growing on the garden site. After we planted vine maple, we added mulch to the plants on the southern portion of the garden. We had fun learning Spanish, such as pala for shovel, and observing a curious cat that roamed through the garden while we worked. Afterwards, we ate delicious bagels donated from The Bagelry, packed up and said goodbye to "Skittles," the cat's newly appointed name.
March 23, 2012
On March 23, the Whatcom Hills Waldorf 6th graders came to the Silver Beach Native Plant Garden to do mulching and planting on the stream bank and southern portions of the garden site. This time, Parks and Recreation co-sponsored the party by providing tools and guidance. Using sleds, we transported mulch to the stream bank and planted evergreen huckleberry. Simultaneously, we planted and mulched snowberry on the southern end. After snacking on local bars from the Bellingham Food Co-op, we took a peek at the Silver Beach Creek to learn more about its critical connection to Lake Whatcom.
March 16, 2012
On March 16, we hosted our first Silver Beach Native Plant Garden work party. The Whatcom Hills Waldorf 6th grade class worked hard on mulching the Silver Beach stream bank and then planted native snowberry plants, which are great for controlling erosion. The Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crew co-sponsored the work party by providing tools and expert guidance. The WCC taught us that when removing a container plant, we need to "massage" its roots to make sure they will extend towards the soil. Otherwise, the roots may continue growing around the plant and potentially "choke" the plant. We were also fascinated to learn about the "ring of life," which means that we mulch around the plant, but we do not let the mulch touch the parts of the plant. If the mulch were to touch the plant, it might cause rot. This "ring of life" creates a berm so that more water can be collected around the plant. Also, mulch absorbs water and slowly releases it back to the plants, which is beneficial during dry spells. 
We kept our spirits high throughout the day with generous contributions from the community, such as delicious apple crunch bread from Great Harvest, energizing coffee from The Black Drop (for adults), and nutritious local bars from the Bellingham Food Co-op. After snack time, as a pre-St. Patrick's Day activity, we had a chocolate gold coin scavenger hunt. Thanks to everyone who participated with this work party!
March 7, 2012 
Plans are currently underway for the creation of a native plant garden in the Silver Beach Creek watershed. The 0.3-acre site for the garden, located at 4744 E Oregon Street, was initially overrun with invasive blackberry and grasses. However, in spring of 2010, the City of Bellingham began coordinating the removal of these invasive species, as well as re-vegetating the site with native plants. 
The creation of the Silver Beach Native Plant Garden will foster native plant and wildlife biodiversity, buffer the Silver Beach Creek stream bank, and provide a space for community gatherings throughout the seasons. 
We invite you to help spread mulch, provide tools, install plants or contribute in other ways. A great team of AmeriCorps and Washington Conservation Corps members, as well as school children, are already volunteering at work parties.
If you would like to read more about the project, please visit the Resources page. If you would like to get involved with this project, please contact Sarah, the City's AmeriCorps intern, at smbolivar@cob.org.
City of Bellingham,
Apr 16, 2012, 10:52 AM