Summer Retrospective Part 1
By Sarah Bronstein, Casey Colley, Kathleen Dennis, and Xia Lu
Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture (OCCUH) is a learning laboratory for sustainable horticultural practices in both rural and peri-urban landscapes. Its 6.5 acres on the SW corner of campus house formal and informal OSU research, riparian restoration, a student CSA program, as well as just plain fun.
This past summer, OCCUH invited OSU Extension Master Gardener (MG) trainees to work on a pilot project renovating and planting beds on the grounds. Kathleen Dennis, the on-site project lead, guided the MG volunteers.
Together, the group:
- Weeded, mulched, and added native wildflowers to an upland prairie area
- Renovated a high-profile woody hedgerow
- Planted a small hummingbird garden
There is an inviting walkway between the greenhouses and OCCUH’s rock and water feature known as the “vernal pool”. MG trainees Casey Colley and Xia Lu used a mix of veggie and flower starts to transform the space into a low-profile garden to accent this pool. Native clarkia, Oregon sunshine were still going strong midsummer. Colley and Lu chose plants that were great for attracting pollinators, including
- Ornamental sage
- Hot peppers
- Lagos spinach (Celosia argentea)
- And several other herbs
They packed in so many colorful salvias that the garden became a hummingbird flyway.
When the collaboration began, the little flowerbed was an open slate.
Later, Colley direct-sowed buckwheat between plants as a nitrogen fixer. This amazing mid-season cover crop is lovely in its own right, and can reach maturity in 45 days! It lends itself to successive sowing from April to late September. When Lu and Colley thinned the mature buckwheat in September, the soil beneath each plant was the consistency of wet coffee grounds!
The season was a success! The hummingbird garden created a variety of textures, colors, and scents. It sustained lots of pollinating insects and kept Oak Creek’s resident hummingbirds happy.
OCCUH’s mission is to utilize open expanses in a more coherent urban-based fashion. Urban Meadows, Green Roofs, pollinator space and urban wildlife habitats are all on the drawing board. The Center is always looking for volunteers to help with projects.
We hope gardeners are inspired by these summer memories as they plan gardens for the new growing season.
Master Gardeners interested in helping out on garden projects are encouraged to reach out to Elizabeth Records at [email@example.com.