New Challenges and Opportunities for Developing Restoration Plant and Seed Palettes

Introduction to Fall 2015 Ecesis, Volume 25, Issue 3

Designing and restoring native habitat offers many challenges and rewards. What the most critical consideration in the process is can and always will be debated. What is the most rewarding or challenging design phase is a matter of personal choice. 

Personally, I enjoy developing plant and seed palettes and envisioning what the site will look like a few years down the road. “Palette” is very much an appropriate word. Two of the definitions for “palette” provided by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary are “(1) a particular range, quality, or use of color (2) a comparable range, quality, or use of available elements”. As restoration designers there are so many colors (species) that could be considered for any given project. A comparable childhood memory is getting a new coloring book and large box of 64 crayons! So many colors/species to choose from ponderosa “pine green”, “sky blue” lupine, western “goldenrod”.

As enjoyable as developing plant and seed palettes can be it can also be very challenging to develop mixes that are: 1) Practical, cost effective, and readily available as commercial stock; 2) Maximizing species diversity and retaining local genetic integrity; and 3) Corresponding with project timelines that are often driven by permits, contract periods, and calendars. 

The authors for this newsletter offer their perspectives on some of the challenges and opportunities to provide plant and seed material for restoration. My sincere thanks goes out to Diana Benner of The Watershed Nursery, David Gilpin of Pacific Coast Seed and Bill Agnew of Agnew Environmental Consulting for their contributions to Ecesis and SERCAL. — Harry Oakes, Region 2 Director/President Elect, ICF International