New Junior Naturalists pose at the newly installed Native Plant Garden sign with experienced guide Laura Drake (second from left) after her first Native Plant Garden tour. Photo courtesy of Patrick Daugherty

New Junior Naturalists pose at the newly installed Native Plant Garden sign with experienced guide Laura Drake (second from left) after her first Native Plant Garden tour. Photo courtesy of Patrick Daugherty

Surprises abound in the Native Plant Garden

The next Junior Naturalist Program is scheduled for May 19.

  • Wednesday, May 2, 2018 11:40am
  • Life

Lots of wildlife action, and newly opening blossoms every day, reward visitors to the Native Plant Garden in Mercerdale Park this spring.

Binoculars came into play on April 28, when Seattle Audubon Society Master Birder Linda Anchondo heard a cacophony of sounds in the woods adjacent to the Skate Park. A pair of Brown Creepers were taking advantage of a break in the rain.

The tiny birds’ distinct behavior—flittering up one tree trunk and on to the next—led to identification and viewing as the bird circumnavigated the trunks. Children and adults took turns viewing the birds through the lenses during the first Junior Naturalist Tour of the area.

Leading the group to the Shore Pine she had “adopted,” Junior Naturalist tour leader, six year old Laura Drake, explained what differentiates it from all other pines (spoiler alert—it’s the only one with just two needles coming out of each cluster).

Respect for native plants and wildlife was an important message. For example, she read tour participants the sign she had made to alert visitors to the reason not to pick the blossoms of the Trillium she had “adopted” (because the plant needs their nourishment for the next years’ growth).

After sharing her knowledge about other native plants, she pointed out a male Anna’s Hummingbird perched at the top of “his” tree. Over a dozen participants, including families with children and interested passers-by, enjoyed Laura’s tour, which concluded as she offered celebratory cookies to participants.

The Junior Naturalist Program is open to children ages six to 10. The next program is May 19 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. For registration and more information: or email

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