The Eugene Branch Walks the Talk in their own Backyard
A year ago, if you were to look out the back window of the Friends of Trees office in Eugene, you might look past the small backyard and see nearly a block of impermeable surfaces, power lines, parking lots and buildings. But our staff saw an opportunity, and went about converting their backyard into an oasis of nature.
“We had left our mark at our last office,” says Eugene Director Erik Burke. There, they partnered with City of Eugene on a Trees for Concrete project, removing concrete and planting eight trees along the busy street outside the old office—two Oregon white oaks, two California black oaks (see this month’s Leaflet for why Oaks are such an awesome choice), three Persian ironwoods, and a Chinese pistache, as well as valley pine and bigleaf maples on the east side of the building.
After moving one block south to a new office, they were compelled to do something similar. “It’s the only unpaved patch in a sea of concrete,” says Erik. “We wanted to make the most of it.”
“We try to walk the talk,” says Volunteer & Program Specialist Taylor Glass. So they pulled away all the grass and weeds, put down cardboard and mulch, and put in a variety of native, drought tolerant, and pollinator friendly plants: 2 Oregon white oaks, red flowering currant, Douglas’ aster, camas, showy milkweed, manzanita, and nootka rose (and some volunteer California poppies have made the backyard their home too!).
“Douglas aster is one of the best plants for pollinators due to its really long bloom time,” Taylor says. “Last year the asters in our backyard continued blooming into October!”
“We wanted all the plants to be climate resilient and drought tolerant,” Erik Says. “After a few years of getting the plants established, we hope to never have to water, no matter what climate change throws at us.”
It’s all about making an impact and leaving a legacy in their community. They are benefiting from that legacy already. In front of the office are bigleaf maples that were planted 14 years ago as part of another Trees For Concrete program, back when FOT Eugene was still the Eugene Tree Foundation. “We planted them many years ago, not knowing that we would end up getting to enjoy them outside our office,” Erik says.
Now the office’s backyard has grown into a beautiful native plant garden, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, and giving our staff a daily dose of inspiration.