30th year for tree/shrub sale

Carol Cowling, South Douglas Conservation District coordinator, offers Bill Sieverkropp of Ephrata a deal on 10 additional trees for a windbreak at the tree and shrub sale on April 4. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)


By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

There was a mixture of snow and rain coming down from the sky on the morning of April 6, so spring was not exactly in the air. However, many people from Waterville and neighboring areas were thinking spring as they picked up orders of trees and shrubs, or browsed for same-day purchases at the annual South Douglas Conservation District tree and shrub sale.

The sale, organized by district Coordinator Carol Cowling and run with the help of volunteers, was in its 30th year this year.

The purpose of the yearly sale, according to Cowling, is to provide native and well-adapted plants for people in the area. Profits from the sale go to conservation district projects, but Cowling said the fundraising aspect is secondary to making good plants available.

This year the conservation district processed 50 orders, in addition to selling trees, shrubs and plants on the day of the sale.

One of those who placed an order was Bill Sieverkropp of Ephrata. Sieverkropp said that this was the first year for him to make a purchase at the sale. He was planning to build a windbreak of ponderosa pines to shield his livestock corrals. Sieverkropp placed an order for 75 trees.

At the sale, Cowling made him an offer for 10 more trees at a reduced price, and after some pondering, he decided to take these as well.

Deb Koenig of Manson also placed an order. Koenig appreciated the variety of plants offered by the conservation district. Also, she is trying to keep her yard native. Her order included both trees and wildflowers for a new landscaping project.

Carolyn Kelley, a conservation district supervisor from Waterville, volunteered at the sale. She brought along her two granddaughters, Elizabeth Petersen and Morgan Sherwood of Sedro Woolley. The girls picked out a box of plants. They will plant some back at home and some at their grandmother’s house.

For each of the 30 years of the sale, Joanne Cowling, who is Carol Cowling’s sister, has come to help. Joanne Cowling resides in La Grande, Ore.

Cowling and her husband Dave Osmick brought along eight bird houses that Osmick had made. The houses sold quickly.

“Next year we’ll bring twice as many,” Cowling said.

Cowling included an interesting fact on the table with the bird houses: one bluebird or swallow eats 1,000 insects every day. Encouraging bird populations can reduce insect pests, like mosquitoes.

Cathy and Bruce Clark of Waterville didn’t place an order, but came to browse.

“We came because it’s so much fun,” Clark said.

Michelle Mires, also of Waterville, placed an order for her yard. One of the things she is working on is creating a butterfly garden, so she purchased milkweed for that.

When asked why she buys at the conservation district sale, Mires said, “I like to support them. They get good native plants that are usually hardened for our area.”

Carol Cowling said that this year’s plants came from five nurseries, including Plants of the Wild, the University of Idaho, Derby Canyon Natives, Lincoln-Oakes and the Washington Association of Conservation Districts.