Open Gardens Project – Featuring Heidi’s Habitat

Site Information: Heidi’s habitat in the Piedmont neighborhood of North Portland has full to part sun and dry conditions

What inspired you to enroll in the Backyard Habitat Certification Program?

After moving across the country, I was suddenly surrounded by unfamiliar species. The backyard habitat program helped me become a part of my new home.

Red columbine

How would you describe your habitat?

Still early! Trying to patiently watch things grow in and take shape while trying not to overcrowd. Started hosting mason bees this summer, and added water sources during the heat dome.

What are your top three favorite native plants and why do you love them?

  • MADRONE! Amazing shape and colors, this is the one I baby (by doing absolutely nothing).
  • Orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa). Mine are still establishing, but a fantastic colorful native vining plant.
  • Solidago + Douglas aster. Because Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Young madrone

What changes have you observed as a result of creating habitat?

More insects for sure (different bee species), a few neighbors have commented, and almost everything survived the recent extreme temps.

Yellow monkeyflower, lupine, and vegetable beds

What were the two most significant challenges you encountered while creating habitat, and how did you address them?

  • Moving an ungodly amount of wood chips by wheelbarrow – addressed through grunt work and COVID-mandated sheltering in place.
  • Getting past the initial mental hurdle of starting- layout and picking plants out. The backyard resources and Sparrowhawk/Bosky Dell were really helpful, and I started with placement of the larger trees and shrubs. And then I moved things a lot.

What resources did you find especially helpful?

Bosky Dell and Sparrowhawk, and the discussions on the backyard habitat page were very helpful.

Blue–eyed Mary

How do you enjoy your Backyard Habitat throughout the different seasons? What are its highlights in each season?

Approaching the 1 year mark from first planting, so difficult to say. I’ve plotted out color and seasonally in my design, so I’m looking forward to seeing if it works out and where I need to add or relocate.

What part of your backyard habitat are you most proud of?

The amount of progress in a relatively short time. Our realtor sent a note saying she barely recognized the place, and two other visitors have said the same based on what Google map showed them.

Yard after mulching

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your journey?

It is a journey, and I’m just starting out.

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