If you live in Edmonds, it’s likely you’ve driven by the native plant demonstration garden on the west side of Highway 104, at the bottom of the Point Edwards housing development on Pine Street.
On Saturday morning, the garden was bustling with volunteers and supporters — all gathered to celebrate six years of educating residents and businesses on ways they can have beautiful yards and gardens, and support birds and wildlife at the same time.
The garden’s full name is a mouthful — Edmonds Wildlife Habitat Native Plant Demonstration Garden — so it’s called the Demo Garden for the short. Located just south of the Edmonds Marsh, next to the Willow Creek Fish Hatchery, it was created in 2009 as an outdoor learning tool featuring native vegetation and a variety of bird- and wildlife-friendly elements.
Long-time Edmonds resident Susie Schaefer, who spearheaded the Demo Garden project, was the emcee for Saturday’s activities. “It’s been kind of my baby,” said Schaefer, who has been active in the Audubon Society for many years.
In 2010 — a year after the project started — Edmonds became the 41st Certified Community Wildlife Habitat in the U.S. Each year since, the city’s certification, awarded through the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), has been renewed.
Demo Garden volunteer Jim Clark, who was recognized for his work during Saturday’s festivities, said the National Wildlife Foundation sets the criteria required for communities to be registered as Certified Wildlife Habitats. Among the requirements are that a certain percentage of Edmonds residences be certified as Backyard Habitats, which requires “providing the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young,” according to the NWF website. In addition, the Certified Wildlife Habitat program requires sustainable gardening practices such as using rain barrels, reducing water usage, removing invasive plants, using native plants and eliminating pesticides. The work at the Demo Garden also applies to the certification criteria.
You can learn more about the NWF program here.
“What we’re celebrating today is six years of sustained certification, and we are on our way to be re-certified next year,” Clark said.
Edmonds City Councilmembers Mike Nelson, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Dave Teitzel were on hand for the festivities. Schaefer tapped Nelson to cut the wildlife-themed cake, noting that he has in the past brought his two young sons to the Demo Garden to learn about environmental issues.
“My love and connection with nature began when I was a child,” Nelson said. “Being able to hold a rough-skinned newt and seeing it out in the wild in a little creek… I still remember that. That is the connection that I want my children to have, I want everybody’s children to have because they are the people who are going to continue to protect our wildlife. It starts there.”
More information about the Edmonds Wildlife Habitat and Native Plant Demonstration Garden is available on the group’s Facebook page.
— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel