Native Plant Sale: November 6!

The Society for Ecological Restoration- UW Chapter’s Native Plant Nursery will be hosting a public plant sale on Sunday, November 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Douglas Research Conservatory at the Center for Urban Horticulture. They will be selling 50 different species—from Pacific bleeding hearts to Oregon grape, Sitka spruce, poplars, salmonberry and many more—so come pick out your favorite native plants and support your local student-run nursery!

The Native Plant Nursery provides plants to on-campus restoration projects. Using its brand-new hoop house, the nursery has cultivated an extensive inventory of more than 2,400 plants native to the forests and prairies of Lower Puget Sound, including more than 70 different species. Their plants are sourced from plant salvages, donations from local business, campus research projects and classes, and from collected seeds. All proceeds from the sale go toward funding SER-UW restoration projects on campus, and providing horticulture learning opportunities for UW students.

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Native Plant Nursery: Hoop It Up

Three winters ago, the Society for Ecological Restoration – UW Chapter (SER-UW) started organizing native plant salvages, and by late April they had several burlap sacks filled with leftover plants from restoration projects around campus. SEFS doctoral candidate Jim Cronan remembers checking to see how well those plants were doing when a duck flew out of one of the bags. The fact that a duck family was nesting in a plant bag made them realize they might need a little better storage system, so they decided to organize their first potting party in the spring.

Anna, at right, has made her work on the Native Plant Nursery the subject of her Master of Environmental Horticulture (MEH) thesis project.

Kelly Broadlick, left, and Anna Carragee, who has made her work on the Native Plant Nursery the subject of her Master of Environmental Horticulture (MEH) thesis project.

Initially, SER-UW had only planned a temporary holding for the plants until they could be planted. But that fall, Jim started envisioning a more structured nursery program as a way to hold surplus plants coming in from salvages. SER-UW got permission from the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) to use some bench space in one of the hoop houses for growing plants, and student employees at CUH started including their plants in the normal watering schedule in spring and summer. Then the native plant propagation class helped by donating prairie plants and setting up an irrigation system in spring 2014, and suddenly the Native Plant Nursery had taken root.

The next year, Jim approached fellow grad students Kelly Broadlick and Amanda Pole about becoming managers of the new nursery. They started recruiting volunteers and raising plants from seeds for the first time, and they ended up salvaging and potting about 1,000 plants that year. By spring 2015, SEFS master’s student Anna Carragee had gotten involved, and the nursery felt some real momentum. “Hey, we’re onto something!” Anna remembers thinking. “So we wrote a Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) grant application and ended up getting $54,000 to build a permanent hoop house, fund two manager positions, and start propagating more plants.”

With a huge boost from the grant funding, SER-UW was able to formalize the nursery program starting in the fall of 2015. They coordinated a species list, recruited interns for the first time—two per quarter—and decided to organize a restoration work party every Friday to be more consistent and have more people involved. The work parties have really caught on, too. Through the course of 24 scheduled outings, Anna says they have worked with an impressive 248 volunteers, totaling 918 volunteer hours.

In 2008, SEFS alumna Lauren Urgensen (’11, Ph.D.) founded SER-UW to bring together students at UW with a common interest in the science and practice of ecological restoration—and a common goal to restore and sustain the biodiversity of the campus.

In 2008, SEFS alumna Lauren Urgensen (’11, Ph.D.) founded SER-UW to bring together students at UW with a common interest in the science and practice of ecological restoration—and a common goal to restore and sustain the biodiversity of the campus.

The Native Plant Nursery now has an inventory of more than 2,400 plants native to the forests and prairies of Lower Puget Sound, including more than 70 different species. The plants are available for educational purposes and put to real use in restoration projects around campus, including Whitman Walk and Kincaid Ravine. “We like to think of ourselves as an educational hub for horticultural learning, and we want to be like the UW Farm—except for native plants,” says Anna.

To build their inventory and make optimal use of resources, the nursery has made some creative partnerships, including with the King County Native Plant Salvage Program—which was how they originally secured plants for restoration projects—and collecting cuttings from UW gardeners to have them turned into live stakes and cuttings at the nursery. They enjoy a steady stream of volunteers from ESRM 100, which has a component requiring students to volunteer at least once during the quarter. The nursery also sells plants to Restoration Ecology Network capstone students for their projects (their course fees include a budget to purchase plants), as well as to the Restoration of North American Ecosystems class; Anna says they work really hard to grow the species those students want.

Those sales provide a little funding support, and the nursery is actively looking for more ways to keep growing and thriving. In fact, they just hired two new nursery managers (both first-year MEH students), Courtney Bobsin this past winter quarter and Mary-Margaret Greene starting this spring. Courtney and Mary-Margaret are off to a running start, too, as they’re writing a second CSF grant in search of funding for research assistant positions to develop curriculum for the nursery and study how best to develop propagation protocols for the nursery’s plants.

Early construction work at the hoop house site.

Early construction work at the hoop house site.

The biggest development from the original CSF grant, though, was getting a permanent hoop house built at CUH. Working with the honor society of UW’s Construction Management department, Sigma Lambda Chi, they were able to complete the project a couple weeks ago—and we’re not talking about some ordinary garden shed, either. The hoop house is 30 feet by 48 feet, and about 15 feet tall, and it vastly increases the space for the Native Plant Nursery to house its plants and operate. “With the building of the hoop house, we have a home base,” says Anna, “and it helps solidify our identity. We’re really here to stay.”

If you want to check out the newest structure at CUH, the Native Plant Nursery is hosting a ribbon-cutting party on Friday, April 22, from 5 p.m. to sunset. “It’s going to be a big party—and for once not a work party!” says Anna. They’ll have beer and wine, food, raffles and activity stations, and even a live band, Sweet Lou’s Sour Mash. (RSVP today!)

And if you’d like to get even more involved, check out the Native Plant Nursery website, which has an upcoming events page that includes work parties, and you can also email sernursery@gmail.com. Anna says they always welcome extra hands on restoration projects, and also positive energy. “Showing up, being enthusiastic—that helps us keep going!”

Photos courtesy of the Native Plant Nursery.

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This Sunday (11/15): Native Plant Sale!

The Native Plant Nursery invites you to support and help promote the Native Plant Sale coming up this Sunday, November 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture!

Native Plant Sale hosted by the Society for Ecological RestoratiThe Native Plant Nursery is a student-run operation that provides plants to on-campus restoration projects managed by the student guild of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER-UW). The nursery has an inventory of more than 2,400 plants native to the forests and prairies of Lower Puget Sound, including more than 70 different species. Their plants are sourced from plant salvages, donations from local business, campus research projects and classes, and from collected seeds. All proceeds from the sale go toward funding SER-UW restoration projects on campus, and providing horticulture learning opportunities for UW students.

Learn more about SER-UW on Facebook and on the group’s website, and if have any questions about the Native Plant Sale, email sernursery@gmail.com!

This Friday: Celebrate Earth Day With SER-UW!

This Friday, April 25, the UW Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER-UW) invites you to join them at two events to celebrate Earth Day: One involving your hands in the dirt, and the other involving beers in your belly!

Tabs for Trees

Pacific trillium recently planted at the restoration site.

First, in partnership with the UW Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF), you can join SER-UW at the Whitman Walk Restoration Area from 1 to 4 p.m. to help remove invasive species that have started to creep back into the site. For those of you who just want to learn more about the site, SER-UW will be giving tours to describe their restoration work that has transformed this area from a small patch of forest overrun with invasive species into an example of a biologically rich Puget Sound lowland forest with more than 40 new species added during the past two years!

Snacks and refreshments will be provided for everyone, and CSF will be handing out free totes and water bottles. For those who want to help with some restoration work, they’ll also have gloves and tools available. The Whitman Walk Restoration Area is located right between McCarty and Haggett Halls and the Denny IMA tennis courts.

Then, after some satisfying restoration work, you can relax with a can of Rainer Beer in the courtyard behind Anderson Hall at 5 p.m.! As part of the Earth Day festivities, SER-UW is taking advantage of Rainier’s Tabs for Trees program, for which Rainier will work with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant a new tree for every six beer tabs mailed back to them. So as you slake our thirst, you’ll also be helping promote tree planting and restoration at other locations in the Pacific Northwest!

No need to RSVP—just head out and join the fun at one or both events! And if you have any questions about either activity, email Jim Cronan or Brooke Cassell.

Photo © SER-UW.

Campus Project: Help Restore the Kincaid Ravine Forest!

Our friends at the UW Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER-UW) and EarthCorps passed along word of a few volunteer work parties coming up to help restore Kincaid Ravine to a healthy and beautiful campus forest!

A 2.2-acre urban forest located in the northeast corner of campus, Kincaid Ravine is currently dominated by invasive species and deciduous trees that are coming to the end of their natural lifespan. It is a declining forest that is gradually losing the ability to perform important ecological functions.

Restoration EventsAs part of the process of restoring this forest to health, the first event of the quarter—organized by SER-UW—will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, along the Burke-Gilman Trail under the 45th Street Viaduct. You’ve probably walked or cycled through there countless times, and now you have a chance to get involved and remove some invasive plants. Tools, gloves and refreshments will be provided, so all you have to do is show up ready to dig in!

After this kick-off work party, EarthCorps has partnered with the UW Campus Sustainability Fund to line up five additional opportunities at Kincaid Ravine for the winter and spring quarters. Among the other key partners in this effort are Martha Moritz, a graduate student in Environmental Horticulture who is serving as the student project manager, and SEFS Professors Kern Ewing and Jim Fridley (as well as administrative support from UW Botanic Gardens).

As before, tools, gloves and refreshments will be provided for each event, but EarthCorps asks that you sign up beforehand if you’re able to come.

Saturday, Feb. 22: EarthCorps work party from 10 a.m-2 p.m. Invasive plant removal. Sign up now!

Saturday, March 1: EarthCorps work party from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Planting and mulching. Sign up now!

Thursday, March 6: EarthCorps work party from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Invasive plant removal. Sign up now!

Saturday, March 15: EarthCorps work party from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. This will be the last work party in winter quarter. You’ll be doing a lot of planting and mulching. Sign up now!

Saturday, April 19: EarthCorps Earth Day work party from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. to kick off spring quarter. Sign up now!

Learn more about the Kincaid Ravine restoration project, and please contact Yiyan Ge, volunteer coordinator, or Martha Moritz, student project manager, with any other questions.