Friendly hands to help restore natural habitats

Tucked away on a 5-acre property in Happy Valley, Friendly Natives Plants and Design specializes in native plants and “is dedicated to helping homeowners and small project managers create, enhance and restore [with native plants] their natural habitat whether it be shoreline, meadow, wetland, woodland or backyard,” according to the company website.

“I’m really excited about helping people restore or recreate their meadows,” owner Lissa Bennett said.

Bennett said she primarily works with homeowners looking to do habitat restoration in their backyards and people who have recently discovered or always loved natives.

Friendly Natives sells a wide and fluctuating variety of native plants in a fenced and neat outdoor nursery, flanked by an extensive compost system on one side and a large greenhouse on the other, bordered by native plants and surrounded by birds: flying, eating and singing.

“It makes sense to me to landscape with natives,” Bennett said. “They are beautiful and beneficial to the birds and wildlife around us.”

She said that natives tend to be low maintenance, as they are adapted to the local ecology.

However, as global climate changes traditional weather patterns, Bennett said it also makes sense to experiment with plantings.

The inventory covers all types of needs: bulbs, grasses, groundcover, ferns, vines, shrubs and bushes, and broadleaf evergreens, conifer and deciduous trees.

“The diversity of ecosystems and microclimates abound here in the Sequim Prairie and Dungeness Valley and Olympic Mountain foothills,” said Bennett. “We carry many of the native trees, shrubs, perennials etc that thrive and provide habitat for wildlife, birds and pollinators. It is rewarding to create habitat for quail and others with hedgerows of wild roses, snowberry, serviceberry, Indian plum and black hawthorn.”

Bennett said she builds her inventory in several ways, such as propagation, acquisition from areas being torn up for construction and from third parties.

“Every year is different,” she said of the plants she sells.

Early spring tasks at Friendly Natives include,” getting ready for Spring customers, potting up seedlings, foundlings and bare roots,” Bennett said.

Kim Williams, Clallam Conservation District district manager, said that Friendly Natives is on their recommendation list for native plant availability.

“When we order native plants they are usually in huge bulk orders that we order wholesale but her nursery is perfect for the landowner of Clallam County,” Williams said.

According to the Conservation District’s website: “Plants native to our region have evolved with the native insects, fungi, pests and diseases, and wildlife for many thousands of years. Thus, they have developed the ability to attract native animals that benefit them [such as pollinating and seed-dispersing insects and birds], and repel or survive native organisms that harm them [such as diseases and insects].

“Native plants attract a wider variety of native wildlife than do introduced plants, and some native wildlife are totally dependent on native plants. In addition, the plants native to our area are adapted to growing in our region’s soils and climate, requiring less maintenance [such as watering and fertilizing] than do non-natives.”

Bennett said she has been working and living with plants her entire life.

“My parents always had a garden,” she said.

As a native of Kitsap County, her parents would often bring her to the Olympic Peninsula to hike and camp.

She studied organic farming at the Evergreen State College in the 1970s and has been working professionally with plants around the Puget Sound ever since. Bennett moved to Sequim in the fall of 2018.

“I feel really privileged to be able to move out here,” she said.

“Friendly Natives is a hidden treasure and Sequim is lucky to have it,” customer Jeff Tozzer said in an online review.” A diverse array of plants at reasonable prices? Absolutely!

“Friendly and knowledgeable owner that can help guide you towards educated decisions? Lissa is the best!

“An opportunity to support a local business that promotes a philosophy of introducing beneficial plants into your yard? You’ll feel good about where you shop!”

Friendly Natives is operated almost entirely by Bennett herself — she has one employee that travels from Port Angeles for four hours a week.

It is open by appointment only. Email to lissa@friendlynatives.net.

Lists of plants Bennett sells are available for reading online, as well as a contact number and other information at friendlynatives.net.

Friendly Natives Plants and Design

Owner: Lissa Bennett

Hours: By appointment only; email to lissa@friendlynatives.net.

On the web: friendlynatives.net

Photos courtesy of Lissa Bennett
A panoramic view of Friendly Natives Plants and Design.

Photos courtesy of Lissa Bennett A panoramic view of Friendly Natives Plants and Design.

Friendly nursery toad. Photo courtesy of Lissa Bennett

Photos courtesy of Lissa Bennett A panoramic view of Friendly Natives Plants and Design.

Lissa Bennett of Friendly Natives Plants and Design in her greenhouse.

Lissa Bennett of Friendly Natives Plants and Design in her greenhouse.

Lissa Bennett, owner of Friendly Natives Plant and Design, pauses in her work on a rainy day at the end of March in Happy Valley. Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen

Lissa Bennett of Friendly Natives Plants and Design in her greenhouse.

A young Ponderosa Pine waits at Friendly Natives Plant and Design for an appropriate home at a dry open site. Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen

A young Ponderosa Pine waits at Friendly Natives Plant and Design for an appropriate home at a dry open site. Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen

Each of the plants sold at Friendly Natives Plant and Design Lissa Bennett, features a description. Seen here is Salal, which can manifest as a ground cover or a shrub. Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen

Each of the plants sold at Friendly Natives Plant and Design Lissa Bennett, features a description. Seen here is Salal, which can manifest as a ground cover or a shrub. Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen

Owner Lissa Bennet shows customers some of the plants sold at Friendly Natives Plant and Design. Photo by Emily Matthiessen

Owner Lissa Bennet shows customers some of the plants sold at Friendly Natives Plant and Design. Photo by Emily Matthiessen

Indian Plum, or Osoberry, is one of the many useful and beautiful natives that Friendly Natives carries. Photo by Emily Matthiessen

Owner Lissa Bennet shows customers some of the plants sold at Friendly Natives Plant and Design. Photo by Emily Matthiessen

Indian Plum, or Osoberry, is one of the many useful and beautiful natives that Friendly Natives carries. Photo by Emily Matthiessen

Indian Plum, or Osoberry, is one of the many useful and beautiful natives that Friendly Natives carries. Photo by Emily Matthiessen

Indian Plum, or Osoberry, is one of the many useful and beautiful natives that Friendly Natives carries. Photo by Emily Matthiessen

Indian Plum, or Osoberry, is one of the many useful and beautiful natives that Friendly Natives carries. Photo by Emily Matthiessen