Volunteers continue to build Habitat Garden

The Vashon Audubon Native Habitat Garden at the Heritage Museum is filling out nicely as volunteers continue to build beds, add plants and other habitat features.

This demonstration garden was originally planned to open to the public in May, coinciding with two other community events planned by the Vashon Nature Center, but these were put on hold. The Wild Wonder natural history exhibit that is now planned for September will officially serve as the grand opening event. However, the garden is available to members of the community who want to visit the site behind the museum on their own. It will ultimately serve as a feature of the Heritage Museum’s public space and a community and educational resource.

The intent behind the garden is to not only showcase native plants, but to also build bird and wildlife habitat as a landscaped garden project, to increase awareness of habitat needs, and to encourage others to restore local native habitat on their own properties and in their own yards.

After the initial ground building and planting parties in the winter months , Audubon board members Jim Evans and Adria Magrath continued to plant ground covers, wildflowers and other plants donated by board members Carol Eggan and Adria Magrath. During the spring months, they continued to manage non-natives, add pavers to the gravel pathway, install a water feature and small wetland, and grow the garden by one big bed on the other side of the main pathway under a native hazelnut tree.

They also added a simple irrigation system to help plants get established their first year, and a layer of alder mulch to suppress weeds and conserve water in the soil. Maria Metler, Education Programs Director at the Vashon Nature Center, also provided help spreading mulch. Finishing touches to the garden will continue as they work on a solar fountain as a part of the water feature and wetland, and begin work on interpretive signage together with the Heritage Museum and the Vashon Nature Center.

Plants that are currently blooming in the garden are: two different species of lupine (Lupinus littoralis and albicaulis), nodding onion (Allium cernuum), fringecup (Tellima. grandiflora), foamflower (Tiaralla trifoliata), coastal strawberry (Frageria chiloensis), red columbine (Aquilagia Formosa), bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa), False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) and twinberry (Lonicera involucrata).

A patch of Henderson’s Checkermallow (Sildacea hendersonii), a rare Washington meadow wildflower with tall spikes of purple to pink blooms that are loved by hummingbirds and butterflies all summer long, is preparing to open its budded heads. This plant is being dedicated to Randy Smith, who served in many roles on the Vashon Audubon’s board for 15 years.

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