Interest Groups & Education
The Garden Club of America (GCA) and The Tacoma Garden Club include in their mission statements the goal to restore, improve and protect the quality of the environment through educational programs and action in the field of conservation and civic improvement.
Educational Workshops and Tours
Whit and Mary Carhart Garden Tour
Nineteen TGC members explored the many treats at this beautiful garden on Maury Island. Whit led us down a winding path on the hillside, talking about the many different plants and trees. The garden is a rich horticultural treat. Members often asked about many different plants, where to find them and how they grow. Mary Carhart joined us and some of the group followed her down the hill to the gardens around the house. In addition to the hillside, there is a meadow, a large border and many perennial plants. The garden also included art by Vashon sculptor Judy Speidel and a delightful group of children by a Tanzanian artist Dominic Benhura. They had many stories to tell us about parts of the garden and acquisition of some of the art. Whit talked about the construction of a beautiful Japanese sitting shed that is now used as garden shed. The Carharts were so very welcoming and the garden was so interesting that is was hard to pull the group away. We finished the day with lunch at the Hardware Store Restaurant in Vashon town.
Powells Wood Garden Tour
Six members enjoyed the tour of this beautiful garden led by Garden Manager Justin Henderson. The tour started at a spectacular colorful border at the entrance to the house. Justin re-plants most of the border each year using a product called “Plant Power” that clearly stimulates fabulous growth. We then followed a route through various different environments and garden rooms. Again, there was a fabulous array of different plants to explore. Justin also introduced us to “fuchsia berries”, the tasty seed after the bloom. We sampled a few varieties. The garden is nestled in a valley at the mouth of a stream headed to the sound. The owner rescued the property from developers and preserved the space as formal gardens and forest gardens that host a fuchsia garden and trilliums. The formal gardens were only developed after 1990, but it has become a mature a majestic garden, an oasis in the midst of a suburban area and easily accessible from I-5.
Puyallup Historical Fish Hatchery
Members of TCG visited this site, which the club had supported financially, to learn about the role of a hatchery and its effect on fishing.
Adriana Hess Audubon Center
TGC members learn about wetland restoration and creating an environment for birds.
Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Presentation and walk at the wildlife refuge to view migratory birds and the wetland restoration site.
Center for Urban Waters
The Center for Urban Waters brings together environmental scientists, analysts, engineers and policymakers who are developing creative and sustainable solutions to restore and protect Puget Sound. The TGC members learned about the environmental work of this local resource after the director spoke at a meeting.
Garden Club of America
Since the time of its founding, the Garden Club of America has been an active force in the promotion of environmental awareness and the preservation of natural resources.
To find out more visit https://www.gcamerica.org/what-we-do-NAL-Conservation
Position Papers Cover:
Focal issues for the GCA are explicitly detailed in the GCA Position Papers which are created by committees and approved by the GCA Board. These papers cover:
The Healthy Yard Pledge – Take the Healthy Yard Pledge to protect our Puget Sound!
“I pledge to take care of my yard without synthetic pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers except on rare occasions to resolve an infestation or to improve habitat for native plants and wildlife. I also pledge not to throw pharmaceuticals or chemicals down my drains or toilets.”
Private citizens own the majority of land in the United States and together we can make a real difference. Studies have shown that even very small amounts of pesticides, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals in our water can adversely impact human health. Taking the pledge is an important and simple step to a cleaner safer water supply.
Safe Medication Return Program
Improperly discarded medication presents an environmental hazard. Flushing medicine down the toilet or throwing it in the trash pollutes water and soil and is one cause for chemicals found in our Orcas.
Washington State has announced a program to safely dispose of medication to reduce misuse, abuse, and poisonings. Physical drop boxes are available throughout Pierce County providing free, convenient, and environmentally responsible options for disposing of unwanted medication https://med-project.org/locations/pierce/convenient-locations/. People may also request free mail-back envelopes so they don’t need to leave their homes to participate.
Tacoma Public Utilities Water Saving Kit
Tacoma residents can apply for a free water saving kit through Tacoma Public Utilities at: https://www.mytpu.org/ways-to-save/save-water-lower-bill/install-instant-savings-with-your-free-water-savings-kit/
Local Conservation Resources
Citizens for a Healthy Bay is a Tacoma-based environmental nonprofit to engage people to clean up, restore and protect Commencement Bay, its surrounding waters and natural habitat. They work closely with county and local government agencies, members of the community, businesses, and other nonprofit organizations to serve as an unbiased positive voice for the health and welfare of Commencement Bay and South Puget Sound.
The Center for Urban Waters brings together environmental scientists, analysts, engineers and policymakers who are developing creative and sustainable solutions to restore and protect Puget Sound. The founding partners – the City of Tacoma, the University of Washington Tacoma and the Puget Sound Partnership – are committed to providing a collaborative environment where the best-available science forms the basis for policy development and implementation. The Center for Urban Waters is the result of years of work by community leaders who dreamed of a world-class research center on Commencement Bay dedicated to finding solutions for urban bay communities.
The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency leading the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Partnership brings together hundreds of partners to mobilize partner action around a common agenda, advance Sound investments, and advance priority actions by supporting partners. The new 2022-26 Action Agenda is a recovery plan based on science and built with regional partners. The plan describes local and regional strategies and highlights specific actions needed to protect and restore Puget Sound. The Action Agenda is comprised of two parts. The Comprehensive Plan outlines goals for Puget Sound recovery and describes how individuals and organizations work together to advance Puget Sound recovery. The Implementation Plan details recovery approaches that are necessary to advance Puget Sound recovery and ongoing programs and new actions that align with them. These programs and actions will reduce pollution in storm water runoff; restore habitat for salmon and other wildlife, and open shellfish beds for recreation and commercial harvest.
Plan overview: https://pspwa.app.box.com/s/5auauv2pebe0f9lrw2vfvfsjmyhpjgo5
Washington Environmental Council is a nonprofit, statewide advocacy organization that has been driving positive change to solve Washington’s most critical environmental challenges since 1967. Our mission is to protect, restore, and sustain Washington’s environment for all. WEC was instrumental in passing (and now enforcing) the foundational laws that help keep Washington’s environment healthy: the State Environmental Policy Act, the State Superfund Law, the Growth Management Act, and the Shoreline Management Act. https://wecprotects.org
The Tahoma Audubon Society advocates for the protection of wildlife and promotes conservation through education and activities that enrich its member’s experiences in and with the natural world. The organization offers classes and bird walks. They publish a newsletter, The Towhee, on a regular basis. They also operate the Adriana Hess Audubon Center in University Place and partner with the Morse Preserve in Graham. Their Helen Engle Conservation Committee actively works to preserve wildlife habitat and birding areas by being involved in county regulations, growth management policies and the county's open space plan. https://www.tahomaaudubon.org
The Floral Design Interest Group plans and arranges for educational programs and promotes interest in flower arranging, botanical arts and participation in flower shows.
Educational Workshops and Tours
The Horticultural Interest Group plans and arranges for educational programs and promotes interest in plants, the knowledge of plant cultures and participation in flower shows.
Educational Workshops and Tours
Pruning Shrubs and Perennials
Amy Brown, Horticultural Chair and Head Gardener at the Laughing Goat Farm in Enumclaw shared her knowledge of pruning shrubs, roses, grasses and a variety of perennials at the farm. The TGC members learned when to make a square cut or an angle cut, how to locate the stem collar on opposing stems and alternate stems and what time of the year each plant should be pruned.
Tips & Techniques
Links to additional resources:
Pierce County Master Gardeners
Pierce County Noxious Weed Board,
The Photography Interest Group plans and arranges for educational programs related to the creation and appreciation of quality photographs. The group also promotes interest in photography for personal recreational purposes, participation in photography shows.
Billy Frank, Jr. Nisqually Refuge Workshop
Photographers were asked to visit the park and complete the following assignment:
- a photo that features trees.
- a photo that features a man-made element in a natural landscape.
(examples include the Visitor Center, boardwalks, Twin Barns, road, picnic tables)
- a photo about pattern and color.
- a photo that was your favorite shot of the day.
Powellswood Garden Workshop
Powellswood is a Northwest pleasure garden tucked away in a Federal Way neighborhood, the three acres of Powellswood are nestled against another thirty- five acres of native successional forest. A series of exquisite hedges help define several distinct garden rooms graced with more than a thousand varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials.
Photographers were asked to visit the garden and complete the following assignment:
- Make a photograph that is seasonal, evoking early spring.
- Make a photograph of a detail that you don’t think others will notice.
- Your favorite photograph of the day.