Play areas for children are still mainly closed, but the Wilshire Park NatureSpace has been a great place for kids to explore all season long. Should you visit the park, remember to keep a safe distance from other groups and bring along a mask. Right now you can see new growth on Oregon grape and watch the curling fronds of native ferns unfurl, or go slug hunting under a log. The fun of spring is still here!
The NatureSpace at Wilshire Park is a 10,000 square foot area landscaped exclusively with plants native to the Portland area. Many had specific uses by the First People living here in the area for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. All contribute importantly to the local ecosystem providing food and shelter for insects, birds and mammals. The list below gives the scientific and, when available, the common names of what is planted. The rock seating is columnar basalt from the Columbia Gorge.
This sign will soon be installed in the NatureSpace to help park visitors learn the names and purposes of each of the plants in this lovely native plant garden.
Understory Shade Mix
Bletchnum spicant (Deer Fern)
Epemedium rubrum (Red Barrenwort)
Mahonia repens (Creeping Oregon Grape)
Mianthemum stellatum (False Solomon Seal)
Vancouveria hexandra (White inside-out flower)
Gaultheria shallon (Salal)
Erythronium oregonum (Oregon fawn-lily)
Ploystichum munitum (Sword Fern)
Oregon oxalis (Three leaf clover)
Dicentra formosa (Bleeding Heart)
Mid-story Shade Mix
Acer cercinatum (Vine Maple)
Aruncus dioicus (Goats Beard)
Bletchnum spicant (Deer Fern)
Gaultheria shallon (Salal)
Oemleria cerasiformis (Osoberry)
Ploystichum munitum (Sword Fern)
Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry)
Tellima grandiflora (Fringecup)
Vaccinium parviflorum (Red Huckleberry)
Mid-story Sun Mix
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)
Eriophyllum lanatum (Oregon Sunshine)
Gaultheria shallon (Salal)
Helenium atumnale (Sneezeweed)
Lonicera involucrata (Bearberry honeysuckle)
Lupin latifolius (Broadleaf Lupin)
Mahonia aquifolium (Tall Oregon Grape)
Physocarpus capitatus (Ninebark)
Ribes sanguineum (Red Currant)
Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry)
Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa Pine)
Rhamnus purshiana (Cascara)
Mr. Rogers would have been pleased. November 23 was a “beautiful day in the neighborhood” as a group of enthusiastic rakers and weeders spent a couple of hours working together and getting to know one another at Wilshire Park. The excuse for the event was the need to weed the NatureSpace to help its array of barely year old native plants get established without competition, but first the carpet of fallen leaves needed removal to reveal the interlopers. Several hundred – possibly thousands – of baby Douglas Firs and Oaks were removed from the fertile, hospitable soil by the energetic crew. That was important but an equally valuable function was the opportunity for public-spirited individuals to chat and get to know each other and for oldsters to model community volunteerism for the upcoming generation.
Workers ranged in age from preschoolers to others well past retirement and there because they’d read about the event in the previous edition of the BWNA newsletter, seen it publicized on the Beaumont NextDoor website, gotten a Friends of Wilshire Park e-mail or heard about it through Quiet Clean PDX – a group devoted to replacing the health and environmental hazards of two cycle, gas guzzling, noisome yard maintenance equipment with cleaner quieter alternatives. This work wasn’t powered by fossil fuels. Instead it was fueled by an offering of delicious breads and pastries donated by Grand Central Bakery !
Of course that’s not all that’s happening at the park. The campaign to raise funds to replace the playhouse still has a way to go to reach its goal. Given the number of youngsters using that playground there should be little difficulty getting there. Checks (which are tax deductible and should say “For Wilshire Park Playground” on the memo line) can be sent directly to Central Northeast Neighbors 4415 NE 87th Ave, Portland, OR 97220.
Finally, conversations continue with PP&R about water and more fencing at the off-leash dog area. FoWP member Audene Walraven kicked off the fundraising for that initiative with a wonderful piano recital of show tunes and classical pieces at her home in early November. There’s no shortage of talent in the neighborhood! All other ideas about how to fund park improvements will be enthusiastically received.
The Backyard Bird Shop has made a very generous offer of matching donations to the NatureSpace made at their Fremont Store between October 22 – November 4. Backyard Bird Shop is a great place to get fun, environmentally friendly holiday gifts for anyone on your list and they are a terrific locally owned chain. If you’d like to visit the store and support our NatureSpace project with a donation it would be very much appreciated. We will use the funds to pay for the hundreds of native plants and shrubs we are buying. Here’s a digital flyer that you can share online:
Don’t forget to sign up to volunteer for Planting Day at the NatureSpace on Saturday, November 10! Also, we’ll be celebrating the completed NatureSpace at our November 14 meeting, so be sure to put that on your calendar. Anyone who is interested in making improvements to the dog park or fundraising for the children’s play area should also attend this meeting.
Our volunteers are amazing! Yesterday was Mulch Day at the NatureSpace, and we had about 40 volunteers turn up — half were children, and most of them five or younger. The little ones not only got quite a lot of work done but they really enjoyed being out in the park on a nice fall day. Even quite small children understood that their efforts made a difference. They brought gloves, toy buckets, and a lot of fun. We had so many helping hands show up that we completed the job early, applying a thick layer of mulch to the perimeter of the NatureSpace both inside and outside the new split rail fence. This will conserve moisture and prevent grass and invasive weeds from getting into the habitat.
We did notice one unfortunate thing — one of the fence rails is already broken, likely from a park visitor who sat on it. Split rail fences aren’t meant to bear weight, so please discourage your friends from sitting on the NatureSpace fence. However, we’ll get that rail fixed as soon as we can.
The site is all prepared, with nice rich planting compost inside the habitat and the mulch framing the site with the fence. Logs are in place, and the boulders and path will be installed soon. Over the next month, the remains of the struggling lawn will break down under the mulch and compost, and the soil will soften in preparation for Planting Day on November 10. This will be the big payoff! We still have room for more volunteers on Planting Day, so spread the word.
We are just a few days from Mulch Day, where we will prepare the NatureSpace for Planting Day on November 10 by spreading mulch over the site. We completed the split rail fence enclosing the site last week, and it looks great. Check out photos here.
Volunteers should check the weather and come dressed accordingly. It currently looks like there will be no rain (hooray!) but the morning will be cool. Each of you should also wear gloves, as mulch should not be handled by bare hands. If you have wheelbarrows, hard-tined rakes, buckets, and shovels, bring those too. Don’t forget a water bottle and a sack lunch.
While we want anyone interested in volunteering to come help out, we especially hope that families with children — even babies and toddlers — will come out because the Friends believe that it’s never too early to give children a chance to serve their community. It’s their park too, so come on out and bring those toy buckets and shovels with you! Even if little ones only have the ability to help for a little while, their contribution matters. Older children can receive credit for their volunteer time to use toward scouts, school service awards, or other volunteer programs. Just send an e-mail to [email protected] to get a form verifying service hours.
Please remember to sign up using our official volunteer form:
Spread the word about this service opportunity however you can. This is one day where we can say the more, the merrier. Volunteers who stay until 12 should bring a picnic lunch, and we can all eat together when the work is done.
See you on Saturday morning!
This Saturday is Mulch Day at the NatureSpace! Now that the fence is in, we need to spread mulch over the site to smother out grass and weeds and prepare the soil for Planting Day on November 10. Tell everyone you know — whatever their age or ability, there will be something do do. Parents with little ones are especially encouraged to come, as it’s never too early to provide children with an opportunity to serve in their community. Also, playing with mulch using toy buckets and shovels is really, really fun. Even if your family can only stay a little while, the Friends of Wilshire Park will be very happy to have you.
We will get started at 8 a.m. and likely finish up around noon, depending on the number of volunteers that show up. Bring a picnic lunch, as we’ll all eat together at about noon. All volunteers must wear gloves, and please bring buckets, shovels, hard-tined rakes, and wheelbarrows to help distribute the mulch over the site. Please do not forget to sign up on our official volunteer form so that you can be counted and receive up to date information. All volunteer hours can be used for scouts, school, or other official programs.
We have another volunteer opportunity coming up next weekend — repainting the lettering on the sign posts around the dog park. The words on the posts are pretty much illegible, which isn’t helpful as we want dog owners to know the boundaries of the off leash area as well as provide a reminder that dogs should never be off leash elsewhere in the park. One of the top complaints at early meetings of Friends of Wilshire Park is that many dog owners fail to keep their dogs on leash, and when dogs bolt through the children’s play area they frighten little children or even knock them down. Additionally, many older children and adults are not comfortable around unleashed dogs, so repainting the sign posts will help remind dog owners to have good park etiquette.
We will paint the signposts on Saturday, October 13 at 9 am, staying as long as we need to. If we are rained out, we will try again on Saturday, October 20. Volunteers should bring old kitchen dish brushes to clean out the recessed lettering and small craft paintbrushes if they have them. Paint will be provided. If you wish to help repaint the signposts, please send an e-mail to [email protected].
On Wednesday, September 26, six Friends of Wilshire Park and a team of employees from Portland Parks and Recreation installed a new split-rail fence to enclose the new NatureSpace. We had absolutely perfect weather — not too hot, so we only got extremely dirty instead of extremely dirty and extremely sweaty.
The Friends wish to thank everyone from Portland Parks and Recreation, who worked just as hard as the volunteers, for helping us realize our very first big project.
Success! All ready for Mulch Day on October 6 and Planting Day on November 10. We’ll see you at the park!
This is an exciting week for Wilshire Park. The city will begin installing a new piece of toddler play equipment thanks to some funds from the voter-supported Parks Replacement Bond. The largest play structure in the toddler area will be removed and replaced with a new, safer play piece along with new poured-in place safety surfacing. Work will take about three weeks, and details can be found here: portlandoregon.gov/
On Wednesday, we begin the installation of the NatureSpace between the pavilion and children’s play area. We have had a positive response from the community on this project, and more volunteers are enlisting every day to participate on October 6 (Mulch Day — bring the kids!) and November 10 (Planting Day — the big payoff!), but we have come up two volunteers short for this Wednesday from 7 am to 2 pm, when we will assist Portland Parks and Recreation staff with building a split-rail fence. Please share this e-mail with everyone you know who cares about vibrant outdoor spaces for everyone to share, and let’s get the job done! Detailed information and our signup form is found here:
Please remember to use our official signup form, located at the bottom of that post. It’s the only way we will know you are confirmed to volunteer and all official instructions, including how to get credit for community service, will only be sent to those who have signed up.
See you at the park!
On September 19, 2018, the leaders of various Friends of Wilshire Park teams met to prepare for the installation of the NatureSpace and plan for future projects.
Volunteer recruitment for the three NatureSpace dates (26 September, 6 October, and 10 November) is going well and at this point there are sufficient volunteers to get the job done, although there is room for more people to join in, so recruitment should continue to allow as many community members who can to contribute to this project.
Sign post repainting for the off-leash dog park will take place on Saturday, October 13. If the weather is too rainy that day, then this will be bumped to Saturday, October 20. Any interested volunteers should arrive at the park at 9 a.m. and bring any craft brushes, plastic dish brushes, and paper towels that they are willing to contribute. The dish brushes will be used to gently clean out the recessed lettering, which will be repainted with small craft brushes.
The bulk of the discussion focused on how to begin fundraising to replace all of the broken equipment in the children’s play area. Portland Parks and Recreation allocated a little bit of bond money to replace the largest of the pieces, with work to begin any day now. This will provide a badly needed replacement so that babies and toddlers will have somewhere to play for the time being, but more work must be done to replace the other splintered and rotting pieces.
The leadership team went through a list of questions given to us by city representatives, which encouraged decisions on which fiscal sponsor to work with, what sort of fundraising efforts the Friends will engage in, and how to communicate with the public. This resulted in a to-do list that included reaching out to our preferred fiscal sponsor, writing op-eds for local newsletters and newspapers, applying for grant money, and recruiting committee members with experience and interest in this area. The PTAs of local schools seemed like a good place to start, and our goal is to have some PTA members attend our next meeting.
The next meeting of Friends of Wilshire Park was set for October 17.