The Salish Seeds Project: Bringing Back Island Wildflowers

The Salish Seeds Project is an effort to restore native wildflowers and grasses in the San Juan Islands. Plants and seeds of species native to island grasslands, oak savannahs, and prairies are produced at a nursery located at Red Mill Farm in San Juan Valley. The San Juan Preservation Trust owns the property and the Land Bank runs the nursery, making this another fruitful partnership between the two conservation groups. Grants and private donations have funded nearly all the nursery infrastructure.

Most of the plants and seeds are either used on Land Bank preserves, or purchased by other agencies and non-profits for habitat restoration projects elsewhere. However, anyone is welcome to buy plants by advance order. Don’t hesitate to contact nursery manager Eliza Habegger at 360.370.7653 or to learn more about species, prices, timing, minimum orders, plant recommendations, or visiting the nursery.

The Salish Seeds Project is focused on plants native to the county’s vanishing coastal grasslands, Garry oak savannahs, and rocky meadows. Most of these species are difficult to obtain commercially, particularly stock that’s native to the Salish Sea region. Many are quite showy and are great for native pollinators.Salish Seeds Photo

Master Gardeners and other volunteers provide critical assistance running the nursery. Opportunities to get involved include monthly work parties as well as special projects such as construction or collecting wild seed. Contact Tanja Williamson at 360.370.7655 or email to sign up for volunteer announcements and occasional project updates.

Currently underway in Friday Harbor, the Salish Seeds Project will produce plants and seeds of native island wildflowers and grasses for local restoration projects.

“Many of our local wildflowers are in decline. Learning how to raise them from seed to flowering makes us hopeful and proud,” said Land Bank steward Eliza Habegger. “Most of the plant species selected for the project are impossible to find commercially.”

“Both the Land Bank and the San Juan Preservation Trust share similar visions for restoration. By sharing facilities and resources, we can maximize the effectiveness our efforts to restore our beautiful Garry oak and prairie habitats,” said Preservation Trust stewardship manager Kathleen Foley. The Salish Seeds Project will further both organizations’ efforts to care for and recover vanishing Garry oak savannah and prairie habitats for future generations.