Brush Prairie’s Wildlife Botanical Gardens: Beautiful Wildlife Friendly Habitat

wildlife botanical garden
Karyn Weber, Vice President, picks blueberries as she tidies up one of the gardens. Photo credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

You may have seen the sign on 149th St. when you were on your way to the CASEE Center in Battle Ground or the Lucky Memorial Off-leash Dog Park in Brush Prairie. It reads “Wildlife Botanical Gardens.” But did you stop? If you did, you would have enjoyed a free look at ten lovely gardens, all attractive to birds and wildlife. The gardens may even have inspired you to create your own wildlife habitat at home. By incorporating certain plants, especially native ones, into your yard, you can attract insects, birds and other creatures and help keep rivers and streams healthy. That is what the organization, NatureScaping of Southwest Washington, is all about.

Ten Demonstration Gardens

wildlife botanical garden
Meredith Hardin, President, and Karyn Weber, Vice President, enjoy the Wildlife Botanical Garden before a board meeting. Photo credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

The Wildlife Botanical Gardens consist of ten, separate specialty gardens and a composting demonstration site spread over three acres. You can find specific plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Check out the NW Natives Garden where 250 varieties of plants native to western Washington can be found. As you wander through the gardens, take notes. You are bound to become inspired.

There are many reasons for taking on a “NatureScaping” project. Urban growth has taken over habitat that birds, butterflies and other wildlife have called home. But homeowners can make up for this. You can create an oasis in your own backyard that will attract wildlife and, hopefully, make your garden easier to care for.

Karyn Weber, board member and past president, found out about the Wildlife Botanical Gardens (WBG) when she was taking a Stream Stewards class at the CASEE Center. “I would wander through the WBG at breaks and lunch and would be greeted by volunteers who were working in the garden,” she explained. “They were very friendly and open to sharing information about plants.” And, she added, “The learning is not just about plants… it’s about people, too.”

wildlife botanical garden
Lee Lalone, Entrance Garden Coordinator, deadheads the flowers and weeds. She is a dedicated gardener and volunteer at Wildlife Botanical Garden. Photo credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

Lee Lalone volunteers at the gardens because, as she commented, “I love gardening. It’s always been a stress reducer for me.” She enjoys gardening so much that she coordinates the care of the Entrance Garden and has a home garden worthy of inclusion on the Clark County Green Neighbors Natural Garden Tour.

If you do not have your own garden, you will still enjoy spending time at The Wildlife Botanical Gardens. It is a beautiful, peaceful place open dawn to dusk. The people are warm, friendly and dedicated to natural gardening. You are welcome to sit in a gazebo to read a book, wander the pathways and photograph the plants and flowers, or just enjoy the beauty of spending time in the countryside. Dogs are allowed to visit with their owners, too.

How to Start

The best way to begin converting your garden is to do a little research. Some of the best websites are as follows: Clark County Green Neighbors and the NatureScaping website. Take a Home Assessment and see how green your home is.

wildlife botanical gardens
You’ll encounter bees, butterflies, birds and more as you wander the Wildlife Botanical Gardens. Photo credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

You can use the Wildlife Botanical Gardens as a model and find plants that appeal to you and the little wild ones around you. And, check out the classes and workshops offered through NatureScaping. These are free if you are a member. Want to read more? Here’s a suggested reading list.

When Meredith Hardin, now board president, moved to Clark County from Idaho, she was already a Master Gardener. But, she said, “I wanted to learn about local plants. I even went out to the gardens in a January ice storm to check things out.” In 2008 she joined as a member.

Events at The Wildlife Botanical Gardens

NatureScaping of Southwest Washington is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-run organization. In the beginning the CASEE Center granted a group of individuals and organizations the use of three acres to develop wildlife friendly gardens.

wildlife botanical garden
Enter the Wildlife Botanical Gardens and explore the world of NatureScaping. Photo credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

So, of course, it follows that the volunteers are busy fundraising to maintain the gardens and plan for the future. Their largest fundraiser is held each April. It is the bare root trees, shrubs and perennial sale. The prices are right, and the perennials are potted from plants growing in the garden.

Each month they offer classes. While the cost is a minimal $15, members can take them free, and membership is only $20 per year.

Events such as Art in the Garden bring art lovers for a visit. Volunteers are on site every Saturday morning, weeding, pruning and planting. Anyone, member or not, is welcome to join in. Also look for Master Composter/Recyclers training through Clark County. There is always something interesting on their calendar of events.

Open Year Round

Be sure to have a look at the NatureScaping of Southwest Washington website. There are beautiful pictures by nature photographer, Terry Covington. The gardens located at 11000 NE 149th St. in Brush Prairie and are open daily year-round from dawn to dusk for a self-guided tour.

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