Sanctury Steward: Barbara Hughey
We moved to SW Oregon two and half years ago. When we first saw what would be our new home we marveled at the different kinds of environments that were here. Forested hillsides, gave way to bright sunny open fields, and from south to north there is a lovely creek, overhung with big trees. Alders, oaks and ash form the canopy. The creek is very beautiful. The sound of the water, and the wonderful plants, animals, birds and insects that are sustained by it creates a peaceful sanctuary. We were enchanted. However, we realized right away that this place needed some attention. A “hands off” attitude towards nature had led this magic spot to be overrun by an invasive plant tangle of Himalayan Blackberry.
I should mention that we were able to get started with this work with the help of our local Watershed Council. There are about eighty of them in Oregon. The WC’s do on the ground restoration projects all over the state to foster biodiversity and habitat enhancement. Through this wonderful organization, we were able to secure a grant to employ some expert help to get us on our way with a rather daunting task. Removal of the vigorous blackberry starts with a big dose of manpower. The highly experienced crew that came through, with chain saws and drip torches, to knock back the invader species, did a beautiful job. Despite the aggressive nature of this initial effort, the delicate plants in the vicinity of the work were carefully considered, and they came through with flying colors and a new lease on life. We were also then able to introduce some important species that were lacking, such as Ponderosa Pine, vine maple, and incense cedar.
After two and a half years, with a commitment to our job as responsible stewards and a diligent maintenance regime, we have really begun to see the fruits of our labor. The Mint, Mimulus, Spikenard, Equisetum, Elderberry, Trilliums, Dicentra, Sasparilla, and Hawthorn, among many others, all have more room, light, and water, to help them really thrive, and reproduce.
To maintain this progress we still need to work hard, but we are managing to keep up with it. We have already been able to host a couple of group visits to our newly restored riparian zone. As a newly formed Botanical Sanctuary we intend to do more of these, so as to help encourage others to take on these projects. It is our goal to honor and to protect the native diversity of this remarkable place.
As a life long plant person and gardener, I have always felt that if we participate with the right attitude, and a lot of learning, that we can be successful partners with our environment. I realized that the idea of our living separate from nature was a completely false construct. The healing nature of plants makes this abundantly clear, which gives intrinsic value to conservation. United Plant Savers reinforced this direction in my life’s path. Now is a critical time for us to sincerely adopt an active role in a restoration of the balance.