Pacific County Demonstration Garden
In February 2013, the director of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco, WA signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the WSU Master Gardeners of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties designating that the Master Gardeners of Pacific County be the primary caretakers of the museum’s Discovery Garden and Mariner’s Memorial Park. The Discovery Garden and Mariner’s Memorial Park are located behind the museum’s parking lot at 115 Lake Street in Ilwaco, WA.
The goal of the revitalization of the Discovery Garden is to offer information to the local community regarding research-based best practices in gardening and landscaping using native plants. This project spans multiple years completing the following tasks:
- Removing weeds, invasive plants and non-native plants
- Focusing on placing indigenous native plants in the garden
- Adding a rainwater collection system
History of the Area and the Garden
Historical records document that members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, William Clark and a small company of men, walked directly by, using a Chinook Indian trail, while exploring Baker Bay and Cape Disappointment. This company of men was on this site on November 18 and 19, 1805. The National Park Service certified the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum as a site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in November 2001.
As preparations for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemoration progressed, it began to be apparent from studying the journals of the Expedition and the cartography of William Clark, that in 1805, the shoreline of Baker Bay in the vicinity of the museum was directly behind the museum’s collection storage building. Further investigation led the museum to conclude that the path taken by William Clark on his return investigation from the great weather beach overland to Baker Bay on November 19, 1805 angled directly across the museum parking lot, through the site of the collection storage building, and the location of the wall in the Mariner’s Memorial Park.
The Discovery Garden and Mariner’s Memorial Park were dedicated in May 2007. The garden depicts the native plants that were in the area when the Expedition travelled through on November 18 and 19, 1805. The wall in Mariner’s Memorial Park was dedicated in remembrance of the fishermen from the community who died at sea.
The Garden Today and Looking Towards the Future
In 2013 and 2014, the WSU Master Gardeners of Pacific County held four workshops a year – one for each season at the museum. Topics ranged from pruning techniques, native plants, water features, and weeds and mulching methods. All topics were directly related to the issues that the Master Gardeners faced when planning for improvements to the garden and park. Thus far, the group has implemented the following improvements:
- Installed a rain water collection system that has significantly cut down the cost of the museum’s monthly water bill.
- Suppressed a significant horse tail problem and other weeds by blanketing them with cardboard and wood chips.
- Planted several kinds of indigenous native plants in the garden.
- Installed two self-watering plant containers in the memorial park.
- Replaced the non-functioning circulating pond with a bog garden.
- Removed an aging foot bridge and replaced it with concrete, drain rocks and small gravel, and made is as part of the existing walkway.Re-graveled the existing walkway, widening it to 60 inches in compliance with American Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
Future improvements to the garden and memorial park include the following:
- Add signage to the native plants.
- Add a sign at the entrance of the garden from the parking lot announcing the Master Gardener’s designation as the county’s demonstration garden.
- Continue with weed suppression.
- Add another self-watering container in the memorial park.
- Add more indigenous native plants where needed.
- Continue to prune trees and shrubs.
The WSU Master Gardeners of Pacific County will also continue to host four workshops a year at the museum.