Tualatin Historical Society Garden wins award

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Chris Tunstall (left) and Larry McClure hold a metal plaque designating the historical society’s Backyard Habitat Silver Certification.
Chris Tunstall (left) and Larry McClure hold a metal plaque designating the historical society’s Backyard Habitat Silver Certification that will be installed in the Heritage Center’s patio area. Courtesy Photo

The Tualatin Historical Society has another feather to put in its collective hat.

The Columbia Land Trust and Audubon Society of Portland recently awarded the Tualatin organization a Backyard Habitat Silver Certification, designating the Heritage Center’s patio and garden area “worthy of visitors who would like to learn more about how to make their own home and public landscaping more eco-friendly,” said Larry McClure. “The team also said they will be promoting our garden for its handicapped accessibility.”

He added, “Criteria we met included
1) removal of certain invasive species, 2) a ‘naturescape’ (with) more than 5 percent in locally native plants in various height layers, 3) reduction in use of pesticides, and 4) consideration of wildlife needs like beneficial insects; and 5) stormwater management or water conservation.”

Than Kehmeier and Susie Peterson, two experts in those practices, toured the Tualatin Historical Society’s campus Oct. 21 on an official visit to renew an application submitted by Chris Tunstall.

“The native plants installed originally in two patio planters was an Eagle Scout project along with binders of plant guides mounted on pedestals,” McClure said. “Chris worked over the past two years to secure more plants from Bosky Dell Natives to fill in blank areas where annuals were formerly added each summer.”

According to McClure, the site assessors were impressed by the plant identification signs and two updated guidebooks for visitors coordinated by Tualatin Heritage Center Manager Cindy Frost.

“Also getting attention was weed-removal work regularly done by Karin Olson and Margie Torgeson over the past several years,” McClure said. “However, Karin has now retired from spearheading these tasks, so we are searching for her replacement.

“A number of recommendations were made for shrub and tree replacement – we lost a big one this fall! – and for insect-attractors like small bundles of sticks and piles of stones lying on the ground, and mason bee houses and small dishes of water for insects to drink. These later actions can help move our award level to gold and on to platinum.”

For more information, visit www.backyardhabitats.org to find resources and links providing more details about the program and implications for landscaping in the Portland region.