Nursery Visit: Scappoose Bay Watershed Nursery

The Scappoose Bay Watershed Council recently conducted a native plant sale. We missed it due to a major storm blowing through Chickadee Gardens, so I contacted them to find out about purchasing plants outside of the sale dates. They were very responsive and helpful; we drove out on a rainy day last week to scope out the goods. We were not disappointed. Let's have a look around.

The nursery---all volunteer, by the way---raises a variety of native plants for both sun and shade. Funds from plant sales help to keep the greenhouse going so they can grow plants for restoration projects in the Columbia River and Scappoose Bay watershed. The nursery was originally built with funding from the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. They involved high school students by locating the nursery on site at Scappoose High School and they work with students and volunteers to keep it going.

We met Amber at the site. She was incredibly helpful and let us know that we could come by any Thursday between 9 am and 2 pm to purchase plants. That's good to know. Anyone is welcome to buy native plants to enhance their own gardens. She welcomed us and let us have a look around to pick out what I wanted. The native plants grown here are all indigenous to Oregon and some to the wetlands of the watershed area.

Snowberry or Symphoricarpos albus looking great. This is a woodland plant with tiny pink flowers before the berries come on. The flowers, surprisingly, are favorites of hummingbirds. I have a lot of this growing naturally in the wooded areas of our property. I had it planted in the old garden in Portland, too. A lovely, small creeping shrub.

The same plant's leaves.

Goldenrod or Solidago occidentalis. Great for sunny meadows or wetlands, can grow around woodland areas as well.

Checkermallow or Sidalcea spp., not sure which one but I bought it. I had this at the old garden, too, and the bees went buzzy nutso over it. It blooms for a long period, is very easy and can handle less-than-ideal situations. I had mine in the hell strip, so lots of cars and dogs and full, baking sun.

Tellima grandiflora or fringecups. There is a large area under some tall trees where this grows quite happily in my garden. I will let it have its way as the alternative is weeds. En masse, it is quite charming if you have the room for it. It is common here in wooded areas.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi or kinnikinnick. An evergreen groundcover or rather a trailing shrub in the manzanita family. One plant can reach about 15' wide, takes low water once established and can take sun or light shade. They don't want fertilizer, no Arctostaphylos that I know of does, so in the right place it thrives with little care. I bought three of these.

There were several native grasses, Juncus patens on the left, the short one in the middle is Deschampsia cespitosa, native tufted hair grass for shady gardens. I bought one to try it out, if it's successful I may get more.

Facilities Manager waiting out the shopping spree in style. Out of the rain.

Cascara or Rhamnus purshiana. It's a very useful small tree that provides fruits the birds argue over, fall color with golden leaves, and in spring, it's covered in small inconspicuous white flowers the bees seek out. I had not known this tree before we moved here and I'm pleased to report we have several on our property that we will certainly keep. One, unfortunately, fell during our last storm.

Spiraea douglasii, our native spiraea. Its pink blossoms are a great alternative to invasive butterfly bush (invasive here in Oregon), it does spread, however, so give it some room to stretch. It can be cut back annually to keep it smaller if needed. A wonderful deciduous shrub to attract beneficial insects.

Sedum oreganum, a tough ol' sedum of which I have a lot. I love this easy succulent, it handles a bit of shade as well as full sun. 

They grow many trees, small and large.

More trees that will eventually be on the larger side.

One of the wonderful volunteers helping to propagate Oregon sunshine or Eriophyllum lanatum for a restoration project. Full sun, great drainage, sweet yellow flowers above silvery leaves. Tough and drought tolerant.

I am not certain what these are but they look good!

Foliage of Dicentra formosa or Western bleeding heart. A woodland plant that can go dormant in summer, but very sweet.

Gosh, there are roses, maples, geums - all kinds of great plants in there.

A wonderful organization with an impressive volunteer nursery.

There's super busy Amber who was so kind to welcome us to this little gem of a nursery. 

As well as always needing volunteers, they seek out seed, so if you have any, they would be most grateful. They source seed from many local places to keep diversity strong.

Decent prices! To repeat myself, all proceeds go to refund the program and to grow plants for restoration projects. The program also supports high school students with solid hands-on work and plant-related experience.

This is an especially sweet poster.

What did I buy? A red osier dogwood or Cornus sericea. The stems are bright red in winter. It forms thickets and is a great wildlife plant. Lovely fall color, too, if it gets enough sun. It grows especially well in wetter parts of the garden. There's more:

There's my kinnikinnick, I also purchased a Geum macrophyllum, a Nootka rose, a Thalictrum occidentale or meadow rue, a streambank violet or Viola glabella, the sidalcea and a tufted hair grass.

Why include native plants in your own garden? For starters, they are adapted to your particular climate and conditions so already have a leg up on other plants. They co-evolved to live where they do, so chances are you will be successful if they are planted in the right place. They also host native insects that birds need to have to raise their young (they can't feed babies bird food!). If you are looking to diversify your garden and include wildlife and become part of the larger garden of the world, this is a great place to start. When I became involved with the Backyard Habitat Certification Program in Portland and added many natives to the old Portland garden, we saw a huge increase in bird activity. It's been thrilling and makes us feel a part of nature, involved and included rather than something that happens "out there." Plus, there are some incredibly gorgeous plants that happen to be native to where we live. I'm sure where you live there are choice plants, too. They also connect us to the landscape in a meaningful way.

If you are interested in visiting and buying plants at the Scappose Bay Watershed Nursery, contact them at 503-397-7904 or by email at Volunteers are generally there Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Amber mentioned we could stop by and buy plants if they are there. I know they would love the support. The plants are healthy and native, they are beautiful and will do really well in my new garden, I am betting. Stay tuned for ongoing progress as they reach maturity.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening! 


  1. Looks like a great sale! I need some kinnickinnick. We have County preservation sales here of natives, for very cheap, so I'll probably go that route this winter. I planted two Tellima when we first started our garden here, and it swept across the entire garden in no time. Completely covered every bare spot. I'm still pulling it out.

    1. Oh, it's a great place. If you come down this way and want to stop, contact them if it fits your schedule. Tellima rocks! Well, if you have a large area it does. Sorry it's taken over for you :(

  2. Beautiful plants and photos! Happy Tuesday ♥

    1. Thank you Summer! I appreciate the sentiment :)


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