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Pacific County Demonstration Garden

Historical records document that members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, William Clark, and a small company of men, walked directly by, where the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum is located today in Ilwaco, WA, using a Chinook Indian trail, while exploring Baker Bay and Cape Disappointment. This company of men was on this site on November 18 and 19, 1805. The National Park Service certified the Museum as a site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in November 2001.

Ornamental grasses and native plants, with interpretative signs at Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco, WAThe Discovery Garden as part of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum was conceived as part of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial. The site, behind the Museum and fronting Main Street in Ilwaco, marks the historic shoreline of over two centuries ago that Clark’s party traversed. The Museum includes the Garden and Mariners Memorial Park. The Discovery Garden focuses on native plants that were indigenous to the area when the Clark’s party passed through.

During the following eight years since the Bicentennial, the Garden matured and with no regular maintenance had become overgrown. In 2013, the Master Gardeners of Pacific County approached the Museum and entered into an agreement to use the Garden to: demonstrate environmentally sound gardening techniques based on WSU research; provide experience for WSU Master Gardener volunteers; educate the public, including youth, in science-based horticulture and related topics; and to provide a focal point for public use and enjoyment of the Garden.

Native plants and gravel pathway in the Discovery Garden at Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco, WATo that end, from 2013 through 2019, the Master Gardeners sponsored three to four workshops a year that were held inside the Museum, touching on several topics – proper pruning techniques, native plants, vegetable gardening in a marine climate, waterwise gardening – to name a few. Master Gardener volunteers were given the opportunity to provide the information and delivery of these workshops.

Planters filled with herbaceous perennials at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum Garden in Ilwaco, WAIn 2013, the garden was overgrown with weeds – especially with horsetail, morning glory, shiny geranium, creeping buttercup, and other non-native perennial plants. Since then, and continuing into 2021, the Pacific County Master Gardeners have taken over the maintenance of the Garden. We have completed the following projects:

  • Pruned several trees and shrubs. This project is ongoing.
  • Suppressed a significant horse tail problem and other weeds by blanketing them with cardboard and wood chips. This project is ongoing.
  • Planted several kinds of indigenous native plants in the Garden, including native shrubs, herbaceous perennials, grasses, and rushes.
  • Installed three self-watering containers planted with small shrubs and herbaceous perennials.
  • Replaced the non-functioning circulating pond with a bog garden.
  • Removed an aging foot bridge and replaced it with concrete, drain rocks and small gravel, and made is as part of the existing walkway.
  • Re-graveled the existing walkway, widening it to 60 inches in compliance with American Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
  • Add signage to the native plants.
  • Added a sign at both entrances of the garden announcing the Master Gardener’s designation as the county’s demonstration garden.
  • Installed recycled plastic edging on the sides of the walkways in the Garden.

Since becoming the steward of the Discovery Garden many improvements have occurred and the garden is again a welcoming place for visitors.