With planting season just around the corner, we are usually gearing up to mobilize hundreds of volunteers to plant thousands of different native trees and shrubs throughout the Snoqualmie Valley. This year is a little different as we are still dealing with the effects of a global pandemic. Since we still can’t gather in large groups, we would like to offer some ideas on what native trees and shrubs you can plant on your property. Here are a few recommendations from our Snoqualmie Stewardship staff regarding some of our favorite PNW plants we use in our restoration projects that you can use at home! Happy planting!
Crew Member Ashley’s recommendation: Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata):
Thuja Plicata is actually from the Cypress Family of the genus Arborvitae, which translates to “tree of life.”
We love to plant western red cedars because they are a signature PNW tree and are highly versatile. They can be planted in groves or singly, as well as in wetland and upland areas. The wood is resistant to decay, which made it the most valued tree to the Native Peoples. The wood was used for building structures, totem poles, canoes, tools, the branches for ropes, and bark for weaving. The trees are easily identifiable by their reddish-grey fibrous bark, oriented in vertical strips, with flat, scale like leaves resembling plaited braids.
Advantages for the garden:
The leaves are evergreen, giving your garden color all year, without dropping needles or leaves. The cones come in small fragrant clusters resembling rosettes. The bark and leaves have a famous cedar scent as well. They provide seeds and habitat for birds, small mammals enjoy the cavities of the bark, elk and deer enjoy browsing the trunk and branches. Just make sure you have plenty of room if you plant a Western red Cedar as they grow quite large.
Director of Ecological Restoration Chris’ recommendation: Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
I love this native plant and its brilliant red/pink flowers. I’m not the only one who loves them. Pollinators are highly attracted to them, and hummingbirds fancy them as well. They’re used in a lot of our riparian restoration sites along the Snoqualmie River and its tributaries. These are perfect areas for them as they thrive in disturbed sites, open spaces, and rocky slopes. I plan on planting some around my garden at home! Many Coastal Salish groups have traditionally used these plants as their berries are edible, but they lack flavor. What they lack in taste they make up in garden aesthetics when in bloom!
Written by the Snoqualmie Stewardship Staff