The Vedanta Society of Portland worked with the Conservation District on a number of special projects to bring its members and visitors closer to native plants and the natural world. These projects included a demonstration garden, meadowscape, invasive plant removal, and “living native plant offerings.”
Vedanta bought 120 acres of land in Multnomah County near Scappoose in 1936 and while it had been clearcut in the 1920’s, Swami Devatmananda’s vision was to plant indigenous native plants across the rolling hills. Planting parties were held nearly every weekend for several years under the direction of Swami Devatmananda, and his successor Swami Aseshananda. Today, the Retreat is home to forested cathedrals, where uncommon native plants thrive underneath towering cedars, firs and hemlocks.
The swamis’ mission to cultivate a healthy forest has kept out most invasive species-only some ivy, blackberry and scotch broom crept into a couple of open areas, which were quickly cleared out by work parties. In place of the invasive plants, several species of native trees, shrubs and flowering forbs were planted. A grassy area was planted with meadow species, and native plants were tucked in along the edge of the woodland to serve as an accessible, self-guided native plant demonstration for Retreat visitors. Additional native plants were planted by Vedanta members and visitors at eight shrines in the forest below the Retreat’s main temple.