Several gardens featuring native plants exist in Shoreline, but did you know that Shoreline’s Echo Lake School has its own native plant garden?
This garden flourishes due to a unique collaboration between grade school students and RSVP members who volunteer through Power of One, an RSVP partner site whose volunteers in the Shoreline public schools provide consistent help working with students in small groups and one-on-one tutoring in the classroom.
We all help improve our piece of the world. The hope is that these youngest volunteers will become lifelong volunteers – and gardeners! This native plant garden is truly a testament to the power of intergenerational volunteering.
Its beginnings go back a ways. During the 2008-09 school year, a 4th grade teacher and a parent decided to create the native plant garden. RSVP member Donna Franklin, at that time a plant steward with the Native Plant Society, advised them in selecting and acquiring plants for the garden. This trio coordinated work parties and planting days during the next three years. Sky Nursery donated five yards of compost. Washington Native Plant Stewards donated plants and more were salvaged. A couple of grants allowed for the purchase of landscaping materials, tools, hoses, plant tags, and some plants. The garden gradually took shape and came together beautifully under these joint ventures.
Today, the Green Thumb Club consists of enthusiastic 4th, 5th and 6th graders who give up one recess a week to work and learn in the garden. In general, around 35 young people sign on to participate during the school year.
Donna, a community volunteer for decades and well known for her expertise with native plants, coordinates the Green Thumb Club and guides the youngsters. Donna volunteers considerable personal time and resources to working with the students and maintaining the garden. Donna also enlists community volunteers who enjoy volunteering and gardening to assist her in working with the young gardeners.
This spring, Karen Thielke and Cathy Floit, both RSVP retirees, began working with Donna and the children. There is no doubt that the Green Thumb Club has been instrumental in the success of the native plant garden. Club members have been volunteering their time since 2010.
The young gardeners learn what tools to use for different tasks, the proper way to remove weeds, how to prepare a planting bed and add new plants, how to divide and transplant, how to water, and what plants to grow in various ecosystems. During the school year, the youngsters can be found hard at work maintaining and improving the garden and its pathways.
We owe a great debt to these hardworking students. Current plans and projects include updating the garden’s comprehensive plant list of approximately 120 species, and redoing the prairie ecosystem. One of Donna’s goals is to hold annual Open Garden Tours, such as the one held on May 19.
The garden is located at 19345 Wallingford Ave N, Shoreline, WA 98133, on the north side of Echo Lake School. If you are in the area, stop and peek through the fence! During the summer, the garden will be open on Wednesdays from 10am to 12 noon.
Both young and mature volunteers benefit from the partnership in the native plant garden. The act of volunteering has a ripple effect, helping to develop future leaders and engage community members. We all help improve our piece of the world. The hope is that these youngest volunteers will become lifelong volunteers – and gardeners! This native plant garden is truly a testament to the power of intergenerational volunteering.