New signs teach about native trees and plants

Visitors can now learn about native plants and Oak Harbor’s historic trees thanks to new signs at the Post Office Native Plant Garden and Smith Park.

The native plant identification signs mark the completion of phase one of the planned garden rehabilitation, which began with weeding, new plantings and mulching last year by volunteers with the Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society. Eventually, there will be signs to explain the role of the native plants in Garry oak ecosystems as well as the history of the post office oak, according to Kyle Renninger, a member of the society’s board of directors.

The native plants are displayed near the 330-year-old stump of the old post office oak. The garden has suffered since the tree was lost in 2014. The Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society adopted the garden in 2016, and since then volunteers have worked to restore the only native plant garden in the city.

The signs are meant to “give context and really round everything out,” said Renninger.

Additionally, the city and the society collaborated to put in a new entry sign to Smith Park and an informational sign about Garry oaks. Wood from the old post office oak was used in both of these signs.

Oak Harbor has more urban Garry oaks than any other city in Northern Washington state, said Renninger and “that’s something we can be proud of.”

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