For years we’ve accepted used pots from the community, and washed and reused them. Sadly, we must now discontinue this service, for two reasons. First, we have grown increasingly concerned about the role of nurseries in spreading potentially disastrous plant pathogens. For example, sudden oak death was introduced into the Pacific Northwest by a nursery shipping infected plants. We have no reliable way to thoroughly sterilize our pots, and we don’t want to be responsible for spreading disease into natural areas. Second, most pots are now manufactured so cheaply that they break apart after one use. In recent years we have landfilled over 70% of the pots people bring us because they are broken and non longer usable. It is with some regret that we make this decision. Sometimes, the path toward responsible ecosystem stewardship is more complicated than we would like, and we think this is the most environmentally responsible choice.
Quercus garryana, also called Garry oak or Oregon white oak, is the only oak native to Washington, ranging from California to British Colombia. It has lobed, deciduous leaves, and greenish-yellow flowers which appear in separate male and female catkins. First peoples traditionally used the acorns for food, eating them roasted or treating them using various methods to remove the bitter taste, then making soup or bread. Lumber from Garry oak was used in ship-building and furniture. Due to its strength and rot-resistance, Garry oak also was used as for fence posts. This is a slow-growing species, but it may live up to five hundred years and often reaches sixty feet in height at maturity. It is drought tolerant, and can grow in many types of soil, from gravelly prairies to seasonally flooded plains.Garry oak is often considered a dry site species, but it also grows along wetland and stream edges in close association with Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia).
Garry oaks are most common on sites regularly disturbed by fire, and sites that are not suitable for taller tree species, as they are vulnerable to being over-topped and crowded out. This makes them an early successional, or seral species. They establish especially well with a frequent fire regime, as mature trees are fire tolerant and sprout vigorously from their trunk or roots after burns. Since settlers began suppressing wildfires, Douglas-fir encroachment has substantially reduced the extent of Garry oak woodlands, harming out not only oaks but the diverse set of species that depend on the oak woodlands, which include a variety of jays, woodpeckers, squirrels and other small mammals.
Plant of the Month
Salmonberry is a deciduous shrub in the rose family. This shrub is one of the earliest to flower, and its vivid magenta blossoms can be observed right now. It has fine prickles along its woody stems, trifoliate, toothed leaves, and edible berries. The edible fruits are delicate and raspberry-like, with many drupelets, and they range in color from yellowish to rosy, pink-tinged orange. Salmonberry fruit ripen from mid-June to late July, with a juicy tart flavor that sweetens somewhat when they are about to fall off.
Hummingbirds love salmonberry flowers. Many native mammals, such as elk, graze on its twigs, leaves, and buds, and the plant tends towards thickets that birds and smaller mammals can use as nesting habitat. Salmonberry shoots and berries are a traditional food source for First-Nations people in the Pacific Northwest, and the name derives from the traditional springtime pairing of salmonberry shoots with salmon meat or dried spawn. The Rubus genus also includes other edible berries such as blackberries and raspberries.
Salmonberry prefers moist, forested areas in partial shade. It can be found from northern California up into Alaska, from low to subalpine elevations. Salmonberry takes well to disturbed sites, and its deep roots can help stabilize slopes and streambeds. It can be grown from cuttings and rhizomes as well as from seed.
Casey Dehe of Sound Native Plants places seedlings in a former pasture in the Woodard Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area along Shincke Road north of Olympia on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. TONY OVERMAN — Staff photographer