Shaw School students with Graham Grove welcome bench

Elementary students at Shaw Island School recently decorated and installed a bench at the Graham Preserve overlooking an area they’d planted with Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) trees. The “Graham Grove” project began in the fall of 2021, when each student prepared a site and planted a Garry oak seedling along with several other plant species (sourced from the Salish Seeds Nursery) typical of regional oak prairies.

The class visits and tends their oaks at least twice a year to observe and record developments in each caged mini-prairie, and to water, mulch and weed as needed. Oaks mature slowly, and while they need several years to become well established, the columbine, yarrow, mouse-eared chickweed, goldenrod, self-heal, and pearly everlasting planted by the students are already thriving, adding diversity, beauty, and pollinator habitat to the site along Reef Net Bay Road.

As the oaks grow—along with the children—and are bequeathed to the next generation of students, the story of an important keystone species, the generosity of Ernest and Beverly Graham, and the satisfaction of caring for places we cherish, will strengthen an enduring legacy.