Mountaintop to Backyard: The Beauty of the Gorge’s Native Plants

by | SOP 14

with Kristin Currin & Drew Merritt

Date & Time: Dec. 13th, 2023 at 7 pm

Location: Columbia Center for the Arts, 215 Cascade Ave, Hood River, OR

Lecture Description:

Native plants give us a sense of place and a heartfelt connection to nature. They characterize the natural landscape, mark the seasons, and attract wildlife iconic to an area. Native plants occur naturally in the geographical region in which they evolved, thus shaping the landscape as much as they are shaped by it. And because these plants have co-evolved along with the insects, birds, mammals, and even soil of a particular place – they are uniquely adapted to support the diversity of life and healthy functioning of the local natural world. Here in the Columbia Gorge, we have a huge variety of native landscapes. From moist forests densely canopied by the evergreen branches of hemlocks and firs, to dry, open Oregon oak savannas, saturated wetlands, sunny rocky balds, and mountain meadows riotous with wildflowers. But native status is not enough to ensure survival. Land development and invasive plants fragment and threaten local habitats and native plant populations, and as a result, threaten the insects, wildlife, and even the people that rely on these places. But this isn’t a story of hope lost, it’s one of opportunity! From balsamroot to vine maple, buckwheat to mock orange, Kristin Currin and Drew Merritt will share their expertise on some of the incredible plants native to the Gorge. With information interesting to anyone who gardens, hikes, or simply wonders about the flora of this amazing place, they’ll show us how we can all support the diversity of life that gives our natural world its beauty and its function.

Speaker Bio:

Kristin Currin is the cofounder of Humble Roots Nursery, a native plant nursery in the Columbia River Gorge recognized for its efforts in sustainability and promoting native plants. Kristin noticed the beauty of native plants at an early age while exploring the fields and forests of her childhood in Ohio. Traveling and studying biology, agroforestry, and ethnobotany, she came to the Pacific Northwest and cultvated her passion for native plants while working with them in nurseries and in the field. She currently lives off-grid in Oregon with her husband, Andrew, where they run the nursery, ethically progaating many important species of native platns, Their labor of love has involved with innumerable native plant endeavors including pollinator and conservation plantings of all shapes and sizes, school gardesn, backyard habitats, restoration projects, and rare plant conservation.

Andrew “Drew” Merritt‘s appreciation for native plants began in his youth in New England when he encountered his first pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule). His passion for plants grew as he worked as a gardener and landscaper. After years of traveling, Drew settled on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge where his love for native plants bloomed. Andrew met his wife, Kristin, and together they created Humble Roots Nursery, which specializes in plants native to the Columbia River Gorge and Pacific Northwest. Drew works with homeowners, landscapers, farmers, orchardists, organizations, and agencies to develop native plant gardens and habitats. He can also be found collecting seeds and propagating plants from the diverse array of this region’s flora.


Humble Roots Nursery