Community members help spruce up Ridgefield


Volunteers cleaned up litter along the waterfront and removed invasive plants from Abrams Park in Ridgefield on Saturday, April 6, during a community event.

For Ridgefield First Saturday’s Green and Clean event, community members volunteered their time during a wet and rainy Saturday morning to clean trash, remove English Ivy and use a mobile shredding service.

At Abrams Park, invasive English ivy has choked out native plants, and Heather Gordon, the head of native plant advocates for the Ridgefield Garden Club, along with Sunrise O’Mahoney, with the Watershed Alliance, led a group of 38 volunteers digging and pulling out the nuisance plants.

“So, today, we’re mostly focused on just getting out the English ivy, of which there is an abundance in this park all over the hillside,” Gordon said. “It’s climbing up the trees. You can see right there where it’s climbed up the trees, and it will eventually strangle trees or pull them over. But we’re trying to also get it out of the ground cover, especially because that’s easiest for the majority of our volunteers to be working on the ground trying to get the ivy out so that plants like snowberry, trillium, flowering currants, sword fern, Oregon grape, all of those plants that are already naturally here … all of those plants will have a chance to come back and thrive and support the local birds and pollinators.”

The original spot from where Gordon had planned for the group to pull English ivy was being taken over by a competitive endemic plant, Pacific waterleaf.

“In fact, our original site that we were gonna pull in is covered with water leaf and we said, oh, no, we can’t do that because it’ll hurt the water leaf,” Gordon said. “So we had to find the spot where the natives were little enough that we could work around. So we found spots where it was majority ivy, but we’re still having to work really hard to protect the native plants.”

Where the group was working, invasive ivy outnumbered young snowberry and creeping Oregon grape and other indigenous plants. Mature Pacific and Western trillium lived among the English ivy but needed support to stand amid the ivy.

Gordon explained English ivy’s strong and relentless growth doesn’t allow for the biodiversity of native plants.

“And if they’re not doing their work, we’re not getting fresh air and fresh water and the things we need to have a healthy ecosystem,” Gordon said of the benefits native plants bring to the ecosystem.

For those interested in utilizing native plants in their landscaping, as well as other options, the Ridgefield Garden Club will be hosting a plant sale featuring numerous endemic species from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 4, at Abrams Park, during the next Ridgefield First Saturday.