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Working to keep native plants healthy in Canby


Herlene Benson is a tireless champion for native plants in Canby's Community Park.

by: RAY HUGHEY - Herlene Benson clears out debris at Community Park. Herlene Benson has been on a mission and would not mind the company of some like-minded folk.

For the last year, she has been caring for the native plant sanctuary in Community Park, a treasure, she says, many people don’t know exists.

The area within the wrought iron fence is designated for that purpose, she said. It should hold only native plants.

Benson is a member of the Master Gardeners program and the Canby Garden Club.

The sanctuary was not meant to be a “beautiful” garden, but a place where native plants are kept secure.

The native plants will attract birds and other wildlife there, she said.

But in recent years, it has held mostly weeds and invasive plants.

“Once it’s spruced up, it will be a big surprise to whoever comes upon it,” she said.

Within its confines, you will spy willow trees, ocean spray plants, a ninebark tree, Oregon grape and sweet briar roses among other native species.

In the past, someone tried to put identification tags on the different species.

But the years and the weather have washed away the lettering.

“I can envision what this little area will look like when it’s cleaned up,” she said.

“If someone in the community is interested, we could get together and do some planning,” she said.

She started her project with a $400 grant from Master Gardeners.

Most of the grant went toward three benches with “welcome” on the back to get people to go in, she said.

She and her family have been doing the rest -- the spraying, pulling, paring and pruning.

Sometimes it’s hard to win for losing. She cut down a stand of blackberry bushes and set them outside the entrance until she could cut them into smaller pieces.

But park maintenance workers found the cuttings and dumped them back inside the entrance. She had to clear them out again and dispose of them in nearby trash bins.