By Linda Wallace

Author's thoughts on the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I’ve taken part in three plant/land events this last week. The photo is of me wearing my White Center Spring Clean tee-shirt and Trust for Public Land hat.

Friday, May 11, I worked for the Washington Native Plant Society to prepare for the spring native plant sale at the Bellevue Botanical Garden on Saturday, May 12. Tuesday, I attended the 12th Annual Conservation Awards Breakfast sponsored by the Cascade Land Conservancy, and this weekend I volunteered at the 4th Annual White Center Spring Clean, organized by the White Center Community Development Association.

I’m always glad to see the labels at the WNPS sales. The sales, held in the spring and the fall, raise money for Plant Society activities such as native restorations and educational outreach. But the labels, tidily affixed to a pot containing only one native species, provide a much-needed refresher course in plant identification for me, so much easier than trying to pick them out amongst the jumble of nature-gone-wild in the forest. It’s like any other skill, use it or lose it, and since my native plant stewardship training in 2001, I haven’t used it enough to remember all of Washington’s native plants.

Then I had breakfast with the governor (along with 1800 others). Gov. Christine Gregoire said she couldn’t bring all of the Land Conservancy supporters to Olympia, so she brought Olympia to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. There she signed the Transfer of Development Rights into law. Frankly, I don’t entirely understand the bill, must do more research. In addition to recognizing those who’ve contributed to the conservation of lands, the breakfast was a fundraiser. According to the thank you I received in the mail the very day after the breakfast (how did they do that?), $653,705 were raised. That should help save a few trees.

At the Saturday White Center Spring Clean Up, I grubbed Himalayan blackberries Rubus discolor at Lakewood Park. If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, you probably don’t know that this species of blackberry is extremely invasive. The Washington native trailing blackberry Rubus ursinus looks quite a bit like the Himalayan variety. Ideally, you eradicate the invasive while leaving the native in place.

A large contingent of Seattle Pacific University students volunteered for the Clean Up. Working with them was a delight. One young woman I talked with was born in the Ukraine. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was only eight months old, but they continued to speak Ukrainian in her home, so she’s bilingual. This summer she’s going back for the first time. She’ll be working in an orphanage.

A group of young men made the time-consuming, hard physical labor of digging up blackberry roots pass more quickly by inventing stories. One student would start a fantasy, and the next one would pick it up and elaborate. Since I’m a writer (you can read about my work at, I was thrilled at their choice of entertainment. The stories were pretty good, too.

When the Spring Clean was over, I returned home tired, with scratched wrists (must remember to wear my gauntlet gloves next time) but content. Volunteering. It makes me happy.

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