Did you have a good Earth Day when it rolled around earlier this week? And what are your plans for Native Plant Appreciation Week when it starts on April 28th?
The week gives us a springtime opportunity to enjoy our state’s amazing flora. We can take a look at all the work that governmental agencies, non-profit groups, and environmental organizations are doing to protect native plant species and restore native plant habitats.
We can participate in everything from talks, walks, hikes, garden tours, and visits to our natural areas. We can see and learn how invasive species harm native plants and ecosystems and we can get actively involved combating that threat and helping with habitat restoration projects. We can take a closer look at how our native plant ecosystems protect water quality and how they provide homes for birds, fish, and other animals.
It’s a time to celebrate Washington’s native floral abundance, its amazing biodiversity, and all the good work being done to protect and preserve it.
Washington Native Plant Society has put together this list of some of the efforts to protect native plants and restore native plant habitats. Many governmental agencies, non-profit groups, and environmental organizations are involved—and there’s a place for you to help out!
These conservation efforts are more critical than ever, as increased population growth, spread of invasive species, and other factors put pressure on natural areas.
Many native plants are attractive ornamentals and adapt easily to garden conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Choices abound whether you live east or west of the Cascades.
Native Plant Appreciation Week is a great time to visit your local nurseries and take a look at what they offer in the way of native plants. Follow this link for a list of participating nurseries.
And, for me and many other folks, the heart of the week is learning something new at a talk or a walk. The range of opportunities this year is pretty spectacular.
How to choose? Here are just a few on a long list:
- Visit to the newly created Lacamas Prairie Natural Area in Clark County on April 27th
- Take the Wild Horse Wind Farm Wildflower Tour in Kittitas County, April 27th
- Go on the Annual Spring Garden Tour in King County, April 27–28
- Help plant the Methow Valley Interpretive Center’s Native Garden in Okanogan County on April 28
- Walk among the wildflowers along Lower Crab Creek in Grant County on May 4th
- Learn about traditional food gathering and Nooksack place names and food plants in Whatcom County on May 4th
- Follow in the footsteps of David Douglas on a bus tour in Spokane County, May 4th and May 18th
- Shop at Washington‘s Largest Native Plant Sale, in King County on May 11
When did Native Plant Appreciation Week start?
As far as I can tell, Washington started celebrating Native Plant Awareness Week in 2004. Gary Locke was the first Governor to officially proclaim the week. Chris Gregoire continued the tradition, and earlier this month, Governor Inslee issued his own proclamation.
Do take a look at the proclamation, with its official gold seal. Gives me goose bumps and makes me feel proud. Here are the key provisions:
WHEREAS, native plant species are an important part of Washington’s heritage providing valuable aesthetic, economic, and ecological contributions that make our state a special place to live; and
WHEREAS, Washington enjoys an amazing biodiversity of over 3,000 native species from rain forest plants on the Olympic peninsula to desert species in eastern Washington; and
WHEREAS, preserving native plant ecosystems is critical for protecting wildlife, fish, and water quality in our state; and
WHEREAS, over 350 of our native plant species are listed as rare by the Washington Natural Heritage Program; and
WHEREAS, invasive species present a great threat to sustaining our native plant ecosystems and biodiversity;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jay Inslee, Governor of the state of Washington, do proclaim the week of April 28 through May 4, 2013 as
Native Plant Appreciation Week
in Washington State, and I urge all citizens to join me in learning more about native plants and their habitats.