The NW Native Lowland Garden at Greenbank Farm

Program Contact: Loren Imes
360-639-6059 •

The NW Native Lowland Garden at the Master Gardener Education Garden was first created in 2009. The rock wall and the rock mounds were built using native rock found on the Greenbank property. The rocks in the mounds were broken and placed into rockscapes to simulate a natural setting. The garden features several different habitats, from shady woodland to sunny meadow to dark wetland. Each area will take time to mature. Some of the trees will grow to large sizes and will change the characteristics of the understory habitats from sunny to shady. At the bottom of the garden is a wetland, which has standing water almost year-round and is very shady from the large willow and other trees.

Enter the NW Native Lowland Garden from the Shade Garden over the stone bridge which is made from native stone from our area. The plaque on the bridge honors Bud Wilkinson, exceptional Master Gardener and contributor to the Education Garden. The bridge spans a mock stream with a variety of ground cover plants that give the impression of water spilling down the hillside and under the bridge. A variety of plants are found along the hillside where shade from the larger trees provides a natural setting. The following plants are in this area:

  • Deer fern (Blechnum spicant)
  • Sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
  • Lady fern (Anthyrium felix-femina)
  • Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)
  • Fringe cup (Tellima grandiflora)
  • Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia species)
  • Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)

Evergreen huckleberry plants (Vaccinium ovatum), which can grow in the shade and sun, greet you on both sides of the path. Three Vine Maples (Acer circinatum) will arch over the pathway on the left. Along the right side of the path, where the soil is wet year-round, are Palmate Coltsfoot (Petasites palmatus) and more ferns, including Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) and Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum), which blooms early in the spring.

The upper path is designed for handicapped use, and as you walk along, you will see the berry garden on the left. This features many of the wild berries found in our area. The berries are edible, and the taste varies. Some are good in jams, jellies, and pies.

  • Coastal Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) are very sweet
  • Black Raspberry (Rubus leucodermis)
  • Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
  • Salmon Berry (Rubus spectabilis)
  • Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

Along the upper path are several trees and shrubs. On the left side, above the rock wall, you will find:

  • Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
  • Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
  • Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

On the right side of the upper path are:

  • Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)
  • Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
  • Pacific Rhododendrom (Rhododendron macrophyllum)
  • Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)
  • Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) – the leaves have sharp, spiny edges
  • Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis)
  • Western White Pine (Pinus monticola)
  • Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)

Along the rock wall on the left are many understory plants. The metal rings help us locate the plants when they are dormant in summer and winter. You will find:

  • Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchuim idahoense and S. littorale)
  • Golden Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californium)
  • Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria lanceolata)
  • Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum)
  • Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
  • Common Camas (Camassia quamash)
  • Oxalis (Oxalis oregana)
  • Oregon Iris (Iris tenax)
  • Red Columbine (Columbine formosa)
  • Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)

Continue along the path to the left and notice the driftwood arch. Found along an island beach, these weathered logs add rustic beauty to the native garden. Continue down the path to the left, past the Audubon Society bird viewing platform. Both sides of this path have native hedgerow plants, which provide food and shelter for birds, insects and reptiles. Find these plants in this area:

  • Saskatoon or Service Berry (Amelanchier alnifolia)
  • Hardhack (Spiraea douglasii)
  • Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
  • Virburnum species
  • Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor)
  • Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
  • Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta)
  • Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata)
  • Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

Along the left side, a sunny meadow is planted with native and non-native plants, such as lilacs, columbine, crocosmia, rugosa roses, yarrow, and asters, to attract birds, bees, and other pollinators. As you continue down the lower path and return to the bridge, the habitat becomes very shady, and the soil is wet almost year-round. Ferns, Salal, Bridesfeathers (Aruncus dioicus), Red Twig Dogwood, Black Hawthorne (Crataegus douglasii), and Red Alder (Alnus rubra) are planted here.

Our garden is a work in progress and will change over time. Return again to see how it matures, and try some of the plant species in your own garden.

Download a complete plant list (pdf) (current as of January 2023)