Oak Harbor residents turn out to beautify native garden

Bridgid Leahyu Mack, age 5, and her mother Heather enjoy planting a rare blue flag iris in the Native Plan Demonstration Garden under the big oak at the Oak Harbor Post Office.  -
Bridgid Leahyu Mack, age 5, and her mother Heather enjoy planting a rare blue flag iris in the Native Plan Demonstration Garden under the big oak at the Oak Harbor Post Office.
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Busy as the many bees gathering pollen, a dozen industrious Oak Harbor residents converged at noon Sunday afternoon, June 1, to beautify the Oak Harbor Native Plant Demonstration Garden beneath the massive limbs of the Garry oak tree at the Oak Harbor Post Office.

Workers toiled until as late as 8 p.m. They weeded, planted and spruced up the grounds. Volunteers included teacher Heather Leahy-Mack and five year old daughter Brigid, Harbor Pride President Sharon Nicholson, Harbor Pride members Bev Casebeer and “sons” Jim and Eddie, Helen Chatfield-Weeks, Melissa Duffy, along with Laurie, a worker from Deception Pass State Park, Mary Fiddler, Betty Bastai, a local artist, and farmer Linda Edling.

Jim arriving on the scene an hour early and cheerily scrubbed the exposed post office sign in the garden from top to bottom. Laurie steadily removed weeds from stubborn curbside areas and garden, expertly dispatching the strawberry runners creeping over the curb into the parking lot, and diligently planting new native plants. Sharon set to work expertly trimming the pine shrub so that the post office sign wouldn’t be hidden by greenery. Helen Chatfield-Weeks enthusiastically started caring for the native orange honeysuckle vine beautifully climbing up the sides of the post office sign. Mary Fiddler brought native plants from her garden to the community garden as did Briget and mom Heather Leahy-Mack who brought lovely yellow and blue-eyed grass. This mom and daughter team, along with Bev’s son Eddie, also weeded the challenging cobblestone walkway where weeds provided a tenacious challenge. At one point Briget, 5, lay full length on her stomach on the cobblestone path in her concerted attempt to remove persnickety weeds cleverly entrenched between the cracks of the cobbles.

Heather and Brigit then zealously planted endangered blue flag iris donated by native plant society member Pat de La Chappelle. Grasser’s Hill on Whidbey is the only place west of the Cascades where this iris has been recently found. It is hoped it will now thrive in the demonstration garden.

Betty Bastai showed up in the nick of time to dispense with remaining weeds and to dig holes and plant new additions to the garden. These plants, found in Garry oak savannah settings, include sword fern, Oregon grape, ocean spray, serviceberry and mock orange.

Bev Casebeer and Jimmy literally did the “final sweep” of the event, removing the leftover dirt and debris from the sidewalks and parking lot area.

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