Boise Eliot Native Grove Update

By Andrine and Howard de la Rocha

It’s rapidly turning into winter in our tiny ecosystem. Most of the deciduous trees (such as the Quaking Aspens “MackenFrank”) are dormant and bare now – “Alan,” our Oregon white oak, still retains a few brown leaves, as is his species’ habit, but he too is shut down for the winter. Buds are already beginning to swell on many of our leafless trees and shrubs, laying the groundwork for a verdant spring. 

Our conifers, on the other hand, are in full life-explosion, the Western red cedars and Doug (“Reuben”) fir leaping to new heights and filling out with even lusher foliage than usual; even our slow-growing Western hemlock is looking very well established and solid. Ever new (to us) fungi keep emerging around every corner, including an amazing orange bracket fungus appearing on the nurse logs in the Library. Come take a winter walk to enjoy the change of seasons.

The new handwashing station at the Native Grove. Photo courtesy Andrine de la Rocha

You TOO can name trees and shrubberies after yourself, friends and rivals! Makes a great Holiday Gift! To make an ongoing or one-time donation can sign up at: https://www.patreon.com/BoiseEliotNativeGrove and/or https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/NativeGrovePDX

Meanwhile, the kind folks at Bonneville Environmental Consultants (who gave us invaluable advice about interacting with our unhoused neighbors when we first began the Grove Project) approached us to suggest that they install a Handwashing Station at the south end of the Grove, where the houseless community tends to congregate. In this pandemic, people without access to sanitary facilities are at even more health risk than would usually be the case. Daniel Rushton from Bonneville installed a large metal tank, a wooden stand, and appropriately biodegradable soap this week. The Station drains into the Mixed-Species Hedge that divides the Grove from the freeway onramp, and that new water influx will hopefully help revive species stressed by the foot traffic at that end of our micro-garden. As we speak the Station is being added to the city’s map of similar stations, making it even more useful to the people who need it.

Your contributions have been invaluable in getting hoses and hose-ramps to be able to supply summer water to the Grove, and hopefully help our little plants get established enough not to need the help. That water will also be instrumental in keeping the Handwashing Station up and running. We are also pressing forward with various elements of the City, attempting to get a water line to the Grove and save us all the time and effort of running a pipeline across Ivy Street. We’ll let you know how that situation evolves.

We have re-established our relationship with our original fiscal sponsor, the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods [HUGE THANK YOU!], and are umbrella-ing ourselves under their insurance policy. Now that we have our insurance needs secured, we will be able to finalize the Stewardship Agreement for the Boise Eliot Native Grove with the City, and it will go on Portland Maps as a Real Place. Very Official!

Other future projects in the works include a large sign at the South end so that traffic on the freeway will be aware of our presence; a tiny library box for the Library, which we will fill with nature books; installation of a lovely ceramic birdbath (made from a sink donated by Rebuilding Center); and more plants to replace individual shrubs lost to urban wear and tear. Hopefully, in the spring we’ll all be virologically secure enough to gather again (still outdoors, physically distanced, and masked!) and will be hosting clean-up, planting, and path-rechipping festivals as of old. We’ll keep in touch!

For more information or questions about the grove, contact Andrine and Howard de la Rocha at NativeGrovePDX@gmail.com. The Boise Eliot Native Grove is located at approximately 300 N Ivy Street.

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