Our Native Gardens

ClearWater transitioned the area around our office from the typical landscaping found around most developments and commercial buildings into a garden featuring the benefit of native plants in 2003. Originally the garden was part of demonstration project. It was designed to encourage landowners to employ techniques on their property to improve the quality of the watershed through polluted stormwater runoff, conservation of water, and improvement of wildlife habitat. The garden continues to be a successful example of native planting in urban landscapes, offering an oasis for wildlife and beauty for the community.


Many volunteer hours go into maintaining the grounds, under the leadership of Terry Melton.

Impacts to Our Watershed




Impervious surfaces, such as roads, parking lots, and rooftops, cannot absorb stormwater. Instead, stormwater runs over these surfaces, picking up pollutants. This polluted stormwater is taken by the storm sewer system to the nearest stream. Polluted stormwater runoff is a major source of pollution in our streams, negatively impacting the watershed.



Rising demand for water is depleting our groundwater supplies. We can conserve groundwater by reducing our water use and by encouraging stormwater infiltration through the soil, which recharges the groundwater.



Development results in a loss of wildlife habitat through the removal of vegetation animals need for cover, nesting, food, and migration corridors.


Rain Barrels

Rain barrels disconnect storm water runoff from roofs and also provide a renewable source of water for plants during periods without rain.

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Lawn Alternatives

Lawn alternatives preserve biodiversity and reduce the use of fertilizers and other chemical treatments.


Paving Alternatives

Paving alternatives the utilize permeable surfaces like pavers allow for water to infiltrate into the soil instead of flowing directly into surface water streams and waterways.

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Native Plants

Using native plants prevents the spread of invasive species that can take over sensitive habitats and provide food, cover, and nesting sites for many native animal species.

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Rain Gardens

Rain gardens slow stormwater runoff allowing it to cool down and precipitate sediments while providing attractive landscaping features.

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Wildlife Habitat

Providing wildlife with the resources they need, such as water and plants for cover, food, and nesting, not only helps them survive, but also will draw wildlife to your yard for your enjoyment!

Watershed-Wise Techniques


This week in the garden:

Weeds being pulled this week include Canada thistle, purple dead nettle, crown vetch, invasive honeysuckle shrubs, also Bradford pear, which is an aggressive invasive plant used in landscaping and it seeds in from surrounding landscapes and is really hard to pull out, even when small.
Also removing hyssop, which is a native plant but too aggressive for our garden, so we control it. It is in the mint family and they are known for their ability to spread and take over, sometimes too much!
Also removing volunteer non-native, crabapple seedlings.

Special Thanks to our Volunteers:

Karen and Tom Parrish
Joanna and Jim Santamaria
Terry Melton
Judy Faux
Pilar Beltran

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-Herbaceous Perennial

-Named for spider web-like filaments that surround the anthers

-Three flowers broadly ovate, grows in terminal clusters, that are normally bright blue, bust sometimes purple, violet, rose, and rarely white

-Can be found in moist prairies, woods, meadows, or streambanks

-Vigorous plant that can form large clumps

-These are found in the Native Garden in the meadow between ClearWater’s front door and Atherton St

-Herbaceous Perennial
-Blue Vervain likes moist sites and often grows naturally on our riparian buffer sites
-Produces very attractive purplish-blue flowers in late summer
-Great plant for wildlife: cardinal, sparrows, and juncos east the seeds

-Caterpillars of the verbena moth feed on the leaves and it is the larval host for the common buckeye butterfly
-Commonly found in moist meadows, pastures, riversides, and marshes


Blue Vervain

(Verbena hastata)

Blue Vervain
Whorled Milkweed

-Herbaceous Perennial

-Blooms June – September

-White flowers and long, narrow, needle-like, linear leaves

-Attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies

-Easy to grow in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun, does tolerate partial shade

-Genus name honors the Greek god Asklepios - god of medicine

-There are 2 common native plants in this genus- one is beebalm (red) and one is wild bergamot (light purple). Both are in our native plant garden
-Beebalm is also known as Oswego Tea and Bergamot

-Aromatic - Dried leaves and flowers used to make tea

-Grows well in sun or part shade in moist soils

-Good for wildflower meadows, forest edges, back yards, flower beds, riparian (streamside) areas  
-Wilts in the heat of summer afternoons but recovers overnight

-It has a square stem, which is indicative of the mint family of which is belongs. Like other mints, it will spread out over time, so give it lots of room if you plant it. 

-Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators


(Monarda didyma)

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Interested in learning more about native plants and the benefits they provide? Consider volunteering in our native garden and find out first-hand how to care for, identify, and encourage native plant use in your landscape.