Q&A with Beverly Arnoldy and Betsy Millard
Q: What is the aim or purpose of the Discovery Garden? When was it started?
A: The Discovery Garden was started during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial and was conceived as a place to highlight the native plants that the Corps of Discovery encountered during their time here. The garden is just behind the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and marks the original shoreline where William Clark walked. A couple of years ago the Washington State Master Gardeners approached us about taking on the garden as it had gotten quite overgrown. Since 2013 they have been its steward and it is looking great!
Q: How many of the master gardeners maintain the garden?
A: The Master Gardeners in Pacific County are part of the Master Gardener Foundation of Grays Harbor and Pacific counties (pnwmg.org). Twelve have contributed volunteer hours working in the Discovery Garden since the Master Gardeners took over the maintenance of the garden in February 2013.
Q: Tell us about the plant varieties in the garden.
A: Almost all of the plants in the garden are native to the local area. Many of the garden’s native trees and shrubs were planted as part of the 2005 Lewis & Clark Bicentennial celebration. Since the Master Gardeners took over the maintenance of the garden in 2013, we have planted more native shrubs and many native perennial wildflowers and grasses. The volunteers have planted western yarrow, pearly everlasting, sea thrift, nootka reed grass, seacoast angelica, ocean spray, red flowering current, and serviceberry, to name a few.
Q: What is the yearly rhythm of the Discovery Garden? Planting? Pruning? Harvest?
A: That is a very interesting question that you ask. When we first took over the maintenance of the Museum Discovery Garden in early 2013, it was vastly overgrown. The trees and shrubs had not been pruned for several years. The garden was overgrown with weeds — especially with horsetail, morning glory, shiny geranium, creeping buttercup, and other non-native invasive plants. Our first workshop at the museum in February 2013 was on proper pruning techniques. We used the trees and shrubs to demonstrate to the workshop attendees and to let them practice pruning on them. Because the weeds were so thick in the open areas of the garden, we spent several work parties in 2013 and 2014 laying down cardboard and then a thick layer of wood chips to suppress the weeds.
Beginning in 2015, our group can honestly say that we are establishing a yearly rhythm. We hold four workshops a year at the museum — one for each season. Since the Master Gardeners have taken over the maintenance of the museum garden, we have completed several projects: installation of a rain water collection system significantly cutting down the cost of the museum’s monthly water bill; installation of three self-watering plant containers displaying small shrubs and herbaceous perennials; replacing a non-functioning circulating pond with a bog garden; and removing an aging foot bridge, replacing it with concrete, drain rocks and small gravel, and making it as part of the existing walkway.
We are in the process of providing native plant signs for many of the native plants in the garden as well as adding a sign at both entrances of the garden announcing the Master Gardener’s designation as the county’s demonstration garden.
Q: How does one become a WSU master gardener?
A: Individuals become Master Gardeners for two basic reasons, a lifelong desire to learn about gardening and a willingness to share what you learn with others.
The WSU Master Gardeners Foundation of Grays Harbor and Pacific counties is gearing up for the 2016 Master Gardener training for residents of Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. Our training is guided by Washington State University Extension program.
Training orientation will take place in January 2016. Coursework will begin on Saturday, Feb. 6 and continue every other Saturday through June 18. The training will actively engage in WSU Master Gardener research-based methodology using computer-based learning modules and laboratory instruction led by our own WSU Master Gardener members. Mentors will be available throughout the training.
Q: Is there a gardening book or books that your master gardeners group recommends to others?
A: While WSU Master Gardeners are not in the business of recommending any particular book or website, here are some of the books and websites that I use when researching a topic or answering a question.
• “Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska,” by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon.
• “Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest,” by Arthur Kruckeberg.
• “The New Sunset Western Gardening Book,” Kathleen Brenzel (editor).
• WSU Gardening in Washington State, http://gardening.wsu.edu/ — a compilation of fact sheets associated with home gardening and landscaping.
• WSU Hortsense, http://hortsense.cahnrs.wsu.edu/Home/HortsenseHome.aspx, — a compilation of fact sheets for managing common landscape and garden plant problems using integrated pest management.
• WSU Pestsense, http://pestsense.cahnrs.wsu.edu/Home/PestsenseHome.aspx — a compilation of fact sheets that provide information on how to manage common indoor pest problems.
Beverly Arnoldy is a master gardener active with the Washington State University Master Gardeners. Betsy Millard is the executive director at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco, Washington.