Volunteers demonstrate mastery and dig landscaping of library grounds – The Conner Weekly News

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You can’t tell a book by its cover, but you can tell the new La Conner Swinomish Library is top notch by looking at the floor outside its doors.

The perimeter of the building at the southwest corner of Sixth and Morris streets, recently enhanced with the installation of a stunning story post fashioned by master carver Kevin Paul and his son-in-law, Camas Logue, now boasts 300 native plants placed Thursday, July 21 by local master gardeners, including Weekly News photographer Nancy Crowell.

It was all part of a team effort to recruit volunteer community talent while keeping costs down.

John Roozen of Washington Bulb Company and Nick Cecotti of Lefeber Turf Farm were soil donors for the landscaping project, Jim Barborinas of Urban Forest Nursery donated maple bushes, and the town of La Conner provided mulch from its composting operations.

The group of eight master gardeners was coordinated by “Head Gardener” Dave Buchan, who pre-prepared the area to determine plant spacing. Color-coded Katrina Barber popsicle sticks placed in the ground to indicate where each of the different types of plants would be placed.

They planted blueberries, sword ferns, salal, and Oregon grapes, a species of evergreen shrub in the genus Mahonia named after Bernard McMahon, a steward of the Lewis Expedition’s plant collections and Clark from the early 19th century.

Many deserve kudos for the large library floor covering.

For example, Buchan reached out to retired biologist Brenda Cunningham, a native plant show garden manager for the Salal Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, for the right mix of plants at the best possible price.

“She was very helpful,” Buchan said. “Thanks to her, we had excellent prices, better than wholesale.”

With superb work equipment, the master gardeners unleashed their magic.

Crowell cited the Skagit County Master Gardeners Mission, which strives to educate the public on the latest research-based gardening procedures and practices in partnership with the University of Washington State.

She said Master Gardener certification follows successful completion of courses and extensive volunteer work. The results are seen daily at the Discovery Garden at WSU’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon.

“The Master Gardener program started at WSU,” she said.

It was started in the early 1970s and today every state in the country has embraced WSU’s concept of providing highly trained master gardeners.

The landscape of the La Conner Swinomish Library is therefore literally in good hands.

“It’s amazing what’s happening here. Libraries evoke wonderful memories for so many people,” said La Conner Library Foundation Director Susan Macek.

The library will likely have a soft opening in September. A grand opening ceremony is planned for later in the fall once the interior furnishings have been received.

The new landscape promises to make a lasting impression.

“It’s beautiful,” said longtime resident Gretchen McCauley. “It’s great of everyone to do this.”

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