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Riverfront Wildflowers on the Lewis & Clark Trail

pacific northwest wildflowers A view of Bob Hennig’s wildflowers & the beautiful Columbia River as it flows past his property.

Creating a wildflower garden on the Lewis & Clark Trail.
Along the Columbia River in Washington State.

pacific northwest wildflowers "Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia"by the celebrated western painter, Chas M. Russell. Amon Carter Museum, Ft. Worth.

Member Bob Hennig lives in a very historic spot. His home faces the famous Columbia River just downstream of its confluence with the Snake River. Both these rivers were major “highways” for the Lewis & Clark Expedition, which means the famous “Corps of Discovery” passed right by Bob Hennig’s property back in October of 1805 on their way to the Pacific. During this period of the expedition, the famed Indian woman, Sacagawea, was with them, and the Expedition had left their larger boats behind. They were continuing toward the Pacific in canoes with their Indian guides. They still had about 300 miles to go, and had no idea how difficult those 300 miles would be once they got into the more mountainous region of the Columbia River Gorge, which still lay ahead. However, about a month after passing Bob Hennig’s area, Capt. Wm. Clark penned the famous line in his journal, “Ocian (sic) in view! O! the joy.” The explorers were finally in view of the Pacific.. Very few of us can have the pleasure of working with land in such a beautiful and historic spot.

pacific northwest wildflowers Early perennial bloom by the river, with Wild Sweet William, California Poppies, and others.
pacific northwest wildflowers California Poppies, Lanceleaf Coreopsis, and other wildflowers with the railroad bridge across the Columbia in the background.
Pacific Northwest Wildflowers The riverfront with yellow Lanceleaf Coreopsis, orange/gold Californai Poppy, red Gaillardia and others.

During 2006, Bob set aside about 6000 sq. ft. of his land and decided to reduce mowing and add wildflowers. The site goes right down to the riverfront, and is viewed from his deck. He began with our , plus some extra and other species.

The perennials did well, as you can see in the photo at top with the tall Gloriosa daisies. Bob says some did “too well”, and were “too tall”, obstructing the view. That’s when he set about choosing species for not only their bloom, but for limited height as well.

Now, he’s working on creating a low-grow meadow with the taller species in border areas. Of course, California poppies are native to his area, so they are a perfect choice. And among others, we’ve recommended the following species for his wildflower project:

, . This species makes a relatively short display of bright red and yellow flowers and is dependably perennial. It’s a native flower that Lewis & Clark saw all along their expedition. Some are already established, but this species could be a major color-maker for this meadow. And unlike most perennials, it blooms for months.

(Linum perenne lewisii. As the species botanical name shows, this beautiful blue wildflower is named for Captain Meriwether Lewis. It is mentioned in their journals and is also a wildflower of many Indian legends. Blue flax is also a short perennial species.

(Coreopsis tinctoria. This common wild annual, native over most of the midwest and into the northwest, was noticed and gathered by Lewis and Clark. It is one of the three wildflowers gathered when the expedition passed through the Snake River. It is annual, but one of the most dependable reseeders of all.

The Clarkias. (C. amoena) and (C. elegans. The two “Clarkias” are famous annual wildflowers named for Captain Clark. Both are native to the Pacific Northwest, and would add brilliant pink and magenta to Mr. Hennig’s meadow garden.

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