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The Native Plant Learning Garden
The St. Edward State Park – EERC Native Plant Learning Garden can be found in the forested island located in the north parking lot of the park. The purpose of the Garden is to help build a stronger sense of connection, understanding, caring for, and conservation of native plants and habitats which in turn support healthy ecological and human communities.
Native plants form the foundation of ecologically healthy systems. Native trees, shrubs, ground covers, fungi, and microorganisms support a multitude of connections between and among plants and plants; plants, birds, and other wildlife; plants and salmon along stream corridors; and plants and humans. Indeed, the web of life supported by native plants is infinite yet this connectivity is often unseen and its importance to plant, animal, and human communities, is underappreciated.
Using your smart phone, scan the QR codes on the plant tags to link to a wealth of information about the plants while observing plants in the Garden.
A list of native plants represented in the garden can be found below. Click on the plant image tiles below to learn much more about each species. Better yet, visit the Garden before heading out on the Park trails in order to learn about the ecology, identification, and indigenous uses of many of the plants you will see in the Park.
Flowering Trees and Shrubs
Herbaceous (non-woody) Plants
Just as native plants collaborate to form specialized ecosystems, so too has building the Native Plant Learning Garden been a collaborative effort including support from:
- Washington State Parks
- Washington State Parks Foundation
- University of Washington Bothell at Environmental Education and Research Center (EERC) in St. Edward State Park
- Friends of St. Edward State Park
- Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust
- Tulalip Tribes
- Kenmore Heritage Society
- Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center
- Washington Native Plant Society
Learn more about Northwest native plants and their importance to Pacific Northwest Ecosystems through the resources housed at the University of Washington and other organizations.
- Burke Herbarium Plant Database – This site is the go-to for identifying plants and fungi in the PNW. Use the search box in the corner (Latin names only) or the “More search options” right below to search with common names or other features. This ID key is helpful when trying to figure something out with a combination of traits like flower color, bloom time, leaf arrangement, or habitat.
- UW Botanical Gardens – University of Washington Botanic Gardens has two sites: the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture. They offer lots of programs including occasional classes and events to the public. Walk around the Arboretum, visit the library (with 15,000 books on plants), check out the herbarium, and learn about Rare Care!
- Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) – WNPS is dedicated to promoting the appreciation and conservation of Washington’s native plants and their habitats through study, education, and advocacy. Their website has a ton of resources including the Native Plant Directory, Plant Lists (great if you’re going hiking), and a blog – Botanical Rambles.
- iNaturalist – One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research-quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. They have a great FREE Photo ID section in their app too – just take a picture of a leaf or flower and it will give suggestions on what it is.
- Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center – a nonprofit organization located on 240 acres of forest and farmland bordering the Snoqualmie River in Carnation, Washington. Oxbow researches and practices sustainable farming methods, grows food and native plants, and educates people of all ages about agriculture and the environment.
Native Plant Demonstration Gardens
An updated list of native display gardens is maintained by WNPS for the whole state. Here are a few in the greater-Seattle area:
- Carkeek Park Demonstration Garden, Seattle. This woodland garden in Carkeek Park hosts charming natives such as bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa), deer fern fiddleheads (Blechnum spicant) and Oregon grape (Mahonia spp.).
- Kruckeberg Botanic Garden, Shoreline. The Kruckeberg Botanic Garden is a public garden containing a unique blend of Pacific Northwest native plants and unusual exotics in a naturalistic, wooded setting.
- Salal Native Plant Garden, Mt. Vernon. The Salal Native Plant Garden is a half-acre oasis that holds the seeds for the future of native plants in the lower Skagit Valley. It is managed by the Salal Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society.
- Stream Center at McCollum Park, Everett- McCollum Park is the WSU Master Gardener headquarters and hosts many interesting native plants, including some cultivars. They are located on the same property as the Stream Center which has a native restored wetland, boardwalk, and pollinator garden.