Sunday, August 14, 2011

Community Native Plant Garden Volunteerism: International Edition

A guest post by David's wife.
We just got home from a week in Glacier & Waterton Lakes National Parks. Together the parks have been designated an International Peace Park because of efforts to manage the landscape cooperatively, and because the shared boundary between the parks (Glacier in Montana, USA, and Waterton Lakes in Alberta, Canada) is the longest stretch of unprotected border between the two nations. It's a nice feeling. The parks are completely breathtaking. We did a lot of hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and of course, we volunteered at the native plant garden in the Waterton townsite.

Yes, that's right, there is a beautiful native plant demonstration garden right in downtown Waterton. And because we were on a charmed trip (staying in the Prince of Wales Hotel for a few nights, backpacking back and forth across the Canada-USA border, spotting 11 bears on the trip, seeing not only two white-tailed ptarmigan on the Carthew Ridge, but also TWO pomeranians- Chester and Sadie) it worked out that we were there in time to participate in the weekly volunteer sessions. Can you believe it? I know!

When we found out about the volunteer night at the garden, we were all over it. Volunteer nights in the garden are fairly new (Friday from 3-5 pm), and are led by Parks Canada Interpretive Specialist David Musto. Lois from Lethbridge is a regular volunteer in this and other plant restoration projects in Waterton (both are pictured below). We enjoyed visiting with them, exchanging ideas about community garden projects.

We loved the garden. It surrounds an old cottage-y style government building and has huge swathes of goldenrod (Solidago spp.), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolia), asters (Aster spp.) and blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata). Penstemons (Penstemon confertus, and other P. spp.) and dryas (Dryas octopetala) were in seed.

We spent some time weeding familiar things like black medic and cheatgrass. I was just getting set to go after some quackgrass when it was already time to go.

It's a wonderful project and I hope that people will participate as part of the outstanding interpretative programs offered in the park.  If you are going to Waterton, stop by and check it out! 

And now for the important, local segue...

If you aren't going to be in Waterton, there is a similar awesome volunteer opportunity for you just south of the border here in Missoula.  This Thursday August 18th from 6:30-8:00pm we're having a volunteer night at the 8th Street Native Plant Pocket Park.  Tasks include collecting seeds, pulling some bindweed, and a general cutting back of things (for aesthetics). Here is the link to the Facebook event:

and of course we want you to go to the new Facebook Fan Page for the Pocket Park and "Like" it.

See you there, or right here on the blog. Happy Late Summer and best wishes to our international friends working on urban native plant gardens.  We just found a like minded project in Chile thanks to the wonders of Facebook. We're happy to see people everywhere embracing their native species in urban areas. 


  1. Hi there,

    Were they wild pomeranians? Did you view them in their natural habitat? :) Just kidding!!! LOL

    (I have a naturalized pomeranian who will occasionally eat from my hand....;)

    Your fan in Kalispell

  2. Looks like it was a great trip. I have never been to Glacier/Waterton but my husband has biked that area and said it was beautiful.

  3. Very cool! We're planning a vacation next September in Glacier, we'll be sure to check out the garden. We'll also be staying at the Prince of Wales Hotel for a couple of nights.

  4. @ Mobius, I think those pomeranians were wild, wild as the Alberta sky!
    @ Heather, it is a truly special place, I hope you visit some time.
    @ Kim and Victoria, you will love the Hotel, it's completely charming. I hope you get to visit the Peace Garden!