Native Plants from Mountaintop to Backyard: Sense of Place December 13th  

by | Field Notes, Sense Of Place, SOP 14, SOP Display

Exploring the Rich Tapestry of Native Plants in the Columbia River Gorge: A Celebration of Biodiversity and Environmental Stewardship 

Hood River, Oregon — Sense of Place will feature Mountaintop to Backyard: The Beauty of the Gorge’s Native Plants on December 13th, 2023. This event will be offered in person at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River, Oregon, and via livestream. 

In the Columbia Gorge, there exists a variety of native landscapes, from 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. Native plants characterize the natural landscape, mark the seasons, and attract wildlife iconic to an area. These 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 the soil of a particular place – they are uniquely adapted to support the diversity of life and healthy functioning of the local, natural world. 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 who rely on these places. But this Sense of Place presentation seeks to turn this narrative of challenge into one of opportunity, offering insights into how we can collectively support biodiversity and environmental health. Join Kristin Currin and Drew Merritt, experts in native plant ecology, as they share their knowledge and passion for the incredible plants that are native to the Columbia Gorge. From balsamroot to vine maple buckwheat to mock orange, this event will provide valuable information for anyone interested in gardening, hiking, or simply marveling at the diverse flora of this region. 

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 cultivated 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 propagating many important species of native plants. Their labor of love has involved them with innumerable native plant endeavors, including pollinator and conservation plantings of all shapes and sizes, school gardens, 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.

Event Details:

Sense of Place

When – Wednesday, December 13, 2023. Doors open at 6:00 pm, and the presentation begins at 7 pm.

Where – Columbia Center for the Arts, 215 Cascade Avenue, Hood River, OR 97031, or via Livestream

Cost – $12 tickets, information at

*Advance purchase is encouraged as presentations often sell out. The event and will be followed by a Q&A moderated by Sense of Place host Sarah Fox.

Sense of Place is a program of Mt. Adams Institute, a Gorge-based non-profit that seeks to strengthen the connection between people and the natural world through education, service, career development, and research. 

Sarah Fox, Sense of PlaceProducer & Host

Hear in the Gorge podcastProducer


Connecting people through place and storytelling.