Community rooted in Ridgefield’s history promotes native plants in gardens, landscaping


Planted in the heart of the city, the historic Ridgefield Garden Club continues to advocate for the conservation of local plants nearly a century after its creation.

Through donations and community outreach, the club strives to maintain Ridgefield’s beauty and environmental sustainability.

The Ridgefield Garden Club began in 1938 as a women’s group focused on conserving local plants. Today, the group of nearly 50 members holds monthly meetings to educate residents about gardening and landscaping.

“It’s a two-fold mission. The first is about the beautification of Ridgefield, and second is the conservation and stewardship of native plants and animals, both in an active role and an educational role,” garden club member Mitzi Staker said.

The club has been an integral part of Ridgefield’s history. In 1963, the club donated land to the city, which later became Davis Park. The club later donated benches to the city’s wildlife refuge and Abrams Park. As a recent tradition in Ridgefield’s history, the garden club maintains planter boxes and hanging baskets with local plants in downtown Ridgefield.

The club believes in utilizing local over imported plants for both residential gardens and city landscaping projects. The club currently holds monthly meetings, where leaders teach guests the economic benefits and methods of caring for native plants. Staker said local plants are crucial for nurturing the region’s natural lifecycle.

“Our insect and bird population evolved along with our native plants for thousands of years, and they have very specific, very intimate relationships that won’t be successful with non-native species,” Staker said.

Staker suggested residents interested in starting a new garden try to care for Douglas aster, a purple flower that attracts local bees and other pollinators. Red flowering currant, a hanging flower that blooms in the spring, attracts hummingbirds during the summer seasons.

Staker said one of the club’s goals is to educate Ridgefield’s many homeowners associations (HOAs) about the benefits of native plants.

“It’s a very narrow vision in many cases, what appropriate landscaping is, and is often very sterile and does not support a lot of habitat,” Staker said. “People who are interested in expanding native plants in their own landscapes are often confronted by HOAs saying ‘These kinds of plants are not acceptable.’ ”

Heather Gordon, a garden club veteran and member of the Ridgefield Roundabout Committee, hopes to promote more local plants in city projects, as well. The future 56th Avenue and Pioneer Canyon Drive roundabout, which will be adjacent to the city’s future Costco, will include a variety of local plants including Oregon grape, orange sunshine and Kinnikinnick shrubs. Gordon said one of the club’s recent endeavors was removing English Ivy, an invasive plant, from Abrams Park to make room for local, sustainable plants. Garden club members are currently communicating with city staff and the parks board to find ways to implement local plants into Davis Park.

“We’re really trying to engage the community in the city by using native plants for lots of different kinds of landscaping, whether it’s in parks or in the roundabouts or city streets or housing developments,” Gordon said. “We’re working our way slowly into various [methods]. We want the city to use native plants to add environmental benefits.”

At 9 a.m. May 4,  the Ridgefield Garden Club will sell local plants and flowers at Abrams Park during the city’s Spring Festival. Funds will be used for future city beautification projects. Future gardeners can learn more about the benefits of local plants at The garden club meets at 10 a.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Ridgefield United Methodist Church, 1410 S. Hillhurst Road, and welcomes all interested guests.