[Plant List Below] In 2022, at the heart of the Parkrose Heights neighborhood, a connection was made that would transform an unused backyard into a flourishing food-producing and wildlife paradise. What started as a simple interest in growing our own food and supporting pollinators blossomed into a remarkable project. Through careful planning, experimentation, and a deep passion for sustainable living, we embarked on a journey to create a garden space that would not only nourish us but also contribute to the well-being of the ecosystem.
With a blank slate of lawn before us, we began the transformation by turning over the top layer of sod and using a black tarp to prepare the soil for planting in the upcoming spring. The winter months were spent envisioning the possibilities and gathering resources. In spring, as the gardening season approached, yards of compost were transferred to enrich the beds, providing a fertile ground for our plants to thrive. We also added wood chips to create pathways, enhancing the aesthetics while offering a practical solution for mulching.
Our garden became a tapestry of diverse plants, carefully chosen to support native pollinators, provide food, and offer beauty to the landscape. In the first year, we established three rows of vibrant dahlias intermingled with a variety of companion plants such as calendula, yarrow, sunflowers, and zinnias. Continuing with our vision, the following rows were filled with a mix of native, edible, and pollinator-friendly species. Blueberries, golden raspberries, huckleberries, herbs like oregano and lemon verbena, and flowers like nasturtium, chives, and anise hyssop, among others, found their place in our garden. Strawberries served as a ground cover, adding to the diversity and beauty of the space.
With each passing year, our knowledge and experimentation expanded. In addition to growing over 90 varieties of dahlias and a multitude of edible and pollinator plants, we started intercropping to foster a balanced ecosystem. Calendula, yarrow, squash, sunflowers, zinnias, flowering onions, orpine, cosmos, and fava beans were strategically planted alongside the dahlias. This technique eliminated the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides, while also providing abundant food and forage for native pollinators and ourselves. Our garden became a harmonious haven, supporting a thriving community of insects and wildlife.
Our transformed space has become more than just a garden. It now serves as a platform for educational events, cut flower farming, seed collection, and research on native pollinators. Collaborating with esteemed programs such as the Oregon State Master Melitologist and Bee Steward programs, we have taken on the mission to catalog all the species of pollinators found within this small space. By showcasing the abundance and importance of utilizing even modest urban areas, we hope to inspire others to create their own sustainable oases and contribute to the well-being of our planet.
What started as a simple desire to grow our own food and support pollinators has blossomed into a remarkable journey of transformation. A once-unused backyard has become a thriving and sustainable garden oasis. Through careful planning, experimentation, and a commitment to sustainable practices, we have not only nourished ourselves but also provided a haven for native pollinators and wildlife. This project stands as a testament to the power of sustainable living and serves as an inspiration for others to create their own flourishing ecosystems, no matter the size of their space. Together, we can make a positive impact on our environment and create a brighter, greener future.
Plant List: Anise Hyssop, Artichoke, Artemisia, Blueberry, Calendula, Chives, Cosmos, Dahlia, Echinacea, Elecampane, Fava Beans, Golden Raspberry, Goldenrod, Huckleberry, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Lavender, Mint, Monkey Flower, Nasturtium, Oregano, Orpine, Oregon Bee Friend, Potato, Rosemary, Russian Sage, Showy Milkweed, Strawberry, Sunflower, Yarrow, Zinnia.