From the viewpoint of Trees

The trees of the Jefferson Learning Landscape, overshadowing visitors. Top photo is 20014. Bottom photos 2019

What a difference a few years make! As the Humboldt Hedgerow has grown along with the trees, Black capped Chickadees, Yellow Bumble Bees and even the occasional crow use this tiny patch of native ecosystem to forage and nest.

After five years as head native plant gardener I can see so much progress.  It is work.  The removal of invasive plants is minimal, but must be done.  Reminding owners of dogs that they cannot run unleashed on school property  and be allowed to dig up the native plant beds is continual.

The educational work with visitors about the purpose of this native plant garden continues. An unfenced  public space like the Jefferson Field is seen from the ground, not the view point of trees.

It is a big challenge to educate the constant stream of new residents and visitors to Humboldt neighborhood.  The personal viewpoint is often resistant to changing.

And this brings to mind the new term for not seeing what is right in front of us: plant blindness.  This is the inability to recognize even common plants that are around us.

The Humboldt Hedgerow is a great place to start becoming plant aware.  The viewpoint of trees, the large Douglas firs and Western Red Cedars  reaching into the sky, are easy to learn to id.

Soon the glorious California Poppies will be in bloom with the elegant Fireweed  to follow all summer.  These are also easy to learn to see as a beginning. Once you start seeing plant differences and similarities it become natural to want to know what plant is in front of you.



The viewpoint of trees is centuries.  Imagine what they will see.



Autumn 2017

The excitement of the total solar eclipse on August 21st  did not pass us by at the Humboldt Hedgerow. Lots of neighbors came out to the south field to spread a blanket and try out their special eclipse galsses.

We took photos of this special event by projecting the the sun onto paper through a telescope and here is one snap.


Nature groups including Portland Audubon asked for notes on bird and other wildlife responses to the eclipse and that gave us a special opportunity to participate in citizen science at the Hedgerow.

Birds seemed especially  active right before the eclipse began and totally quiet during the process. Bees were quietly resting on flowers as the temperature cooled.


Above is the 7am crash of another limb falling onto Humboldt street from the Siberian Elm volunteer tree. This tree lost a huge limb during last winter’s extreme ice storm and continues to have problems.

No one was injured, but small trees in the corner house were damaged and all the neighbors are grateful it was not worse.  Elm limbs are densely heavy.

Urban Forestry has this tree listed as a street tree, which leaves the maintenance of the tree to the property owner, Portland Public Schools.

Urban Forestry quickly came out to remove the  downed limb but will rely on the school district to determine if this much loved tree should be removed for safety reasons. As a habitat creators we know the value of standing dead and hollowmtrees as wildlife support. Old hollow trees can be structurally very strong as they are empty cylinders like a water glass. They are less likely to drop limbs than living trees! So the HH will be working to keep the tree in some form if safety allows it.

Ecosystems change. This can be a real opportunity to observe with students the kinds of decisions and support we can offer the natural habitat as it grows or as it decays. The extra light getting through to the conifer  trees of the Learning Arboretum, a Ponderosa Pine and a Grand Fir, will help these trees that struggled under the dense shade of the elm.

Though hot dry summers make a crackly brown seed filled habitat, there are some blooming plants that continue to feed pollinators including butterflies and bees.

Here is a California Poppy with a native Bumble Bee rolling around the stamen collecting pollen the easy way and a native Pearly Everlasting that will dry on the stem providing fading white blooms for months.

These plants need no extra water and really prefer our dry summers that they are  adapted for.

Happy new school year to Jefferson and Humboldt students!

Snowy Boughs

Snowy Boughs

Happy 2017!

Here in Humbolt Neighborhood the Winter of 2017 will be remembered for the foot of powdery snow that kept us all house bound …and off from school…for a week.

The snow may be just a memory soon, but the damage to trees, lost limbs and among many losses, the seven whole trees down in the  northwest Park Blocks, it is a lasting loss.

Luckily our South Jefferson Field trees made it through just fine.  The advantages of drooping evergreen limbs of native Douglas Fir, Western Redcedar and Hemlocks, the flexible whip like stems of Ponderosa Pine that have had centuries to adapt to the whims of winter in the Northwest are clear: less stress on limbs weighted with snow and ice.

The storm emphasized the importance of proper pruning for all trees in the city, but most especially ornamentals that just are not evolved for our silver thaws with heavy ice for days.

The local classes on tree pruning  offered by the Portland Parks  Urban Forestry  division are wonderful and free!  And our local neighborhood Tree Teams often give workshops in the neighborhood as well.

Happily, once the snow melted, the native perrenial  Hedgerow plants  popped right back up!

Here is to Spring flowers making plans to emerge and newly planted replacement trees getting off to a great start.



Summer 2016

IMG_0871Summer in the city can be filled with flowers and wildlife, even in a dry, sunny street side.


Humboldt Hedgerow now has a few continuing blooms as our test plot flowers.

Despite soaring high temperatures in Spring, many native Portland plants continue to thrive without additional water.  Our test pilot is committed to seeing which plants will make it though the summer without any additional water.  This will help us decide what to plant more of in the Fall of 2016.

Above Right:  Oregon Sunshine full grown in the native plant nursery bed, waiting for Fall transplant.  We have two small small plants in the Hedgerow and they are hanging on


IMG_7755California Poppy

June 2016, plants and seeds Summer 2016


Going strong!

the native bumblebees are back, enjoying the return of this reliable annual.IMG_8135IMG_8100Left: Blue Gillia

from seed scattered Fall of 2015


Below: Bee’s Friend (Silky Phacelia)


This is  a near by native plant, chosen to encourage native bees to visit our site.  Our Portland Native Phacelia, Shade Phacelia, has spiked stems that can be painful, so not appropriate for a school property.

Below:  new temporary name tags added!

common names and scientific name on the reverse.

IMG_8224IMG_8225IMG_8228Penstemon serratulus waiting for fall transplant.  Also grown with no extra water.IMG_8289


Rock Pigeons are not a native bird, but they are enjoying the termites from a sweet cherry snag and maybe a few insects!IMG_8293

Working Together

February 2016

If you are anything like me, working outside with others is the best way to get to know someone really quickly.  There’s the choosing of bare hands in the dirt or gloves, spade or shovel, rubber garden boots or clogs.  The list gets longer as you  work side by side with a common goal in mind.South Field clouds Rainbow 2014

Working with neighbors and new friends in the Humboldt Hedgerow is that experience and more.

We talk about the neighborhood.

Parents share what their kids are doing and how they use the South Field.  Long term residents have stories of climbing on the original Gasometer than stored coal fired produced gas piped over from  the Linton plant. We share hopes, frustrations and a  lot of laughs. The laughing is what I notice most about a group of native plant enthusiasts working in the field.

Plants and people together are a harmonious combination, so I hope you will think about joining us for  a work day.  Or just come by to talk. Bring the kids and let them ask questions about trees, butterflies, birds and earthworms!

No experience is required.Bring your curiosity and an idea you want to put something back into the natural Oregon ecosystem to share with neighbors.

No judgements on the rubber boots or clogs or even hiking boots.  Come as you are.

Majida                                                                                                                                                                for the Humboldt Hedgerow Initiative