Happy Crow Nursery is a small native plant grower and nursery based in Seattle, WA. Founded in a Seattle backyard in 2022, the nursery quickly outgrew that space, and expanded production to the Eastside. We primarily grow plants from seed for retail sales. We focus on plants that fit well in urban residential environments, and have high wildlife value.
Happy Crow Nursery is owned and operated by David Greer. A lifelong nature lover, David found himself spending much of his time in an office. In 2022, he left the office and founded Happy Crow Nursery, named for one of the most prolific native urban residents. He can often be found skiing in the Cascades, photographing bees in his neighborhood, or poking a piece of moss.
Why Native Plants?
1. Native Plants are Beautiful
Each of us is familiar with the beauty of wildflower meadows, mossy forests, and sunlight-dappled woodlands. Yet the landscape around our homes, where it hasn't been covered with concrete, is largely composed of mowed lawns and exotic shrubs. There are so many native wildflowers that are shockingly beautiful, and native shrubs that cover themselves with fragrant blooms. We should have them everywhere around us!
2. Native Plants are Easy
Many people think you need to have a "green thumb" to keep plants alive. Nothing could be further from the truth! If you want proof, go to your nearest natural area and see how many plants are thriving without gardeners' help. What is difficult is keeping exotic plants alive. They may need extra water in the summer, or they may be adapted to different soil conditions. But any difficult spot in your landscape will have a native plant adapted to it. Do your flowers and shrubs keep crisping up in your hot sidewalk strip? Oregon Sunshine, Showy Fleabane, and Brodiaea love those spots! Does your lawn keep drowning where it gets too wet in the winter? Self Heal, Douglas Aster, and Henderson's Checkermallow to the rescue.
3. Native Plants Support Wildlife
Birds eat the berries and seeds from trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. By planting native plants, you can turn your yard into a natural bird feeder! Birds and other animals use plants for cover from predators. Bees, butterflies, bats, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, and other animals visit flowers to gather nectar and pollen. Insects lay their eggs on plants, eat plants, and use dead flower stalks and leaves as winter homes. Some of these needs are still fulfilled by exotic plants - for instance, exotic trees will give birds cover, and bumblebees will visit lavender. But many relationships between species are specialized. Native plants and wildlife have evolved together for millions of years, and in that time have become dependent on each other.
Perhaps the most famous specialized relationship is that between the Monarch butterfly and Milkweed plants - the Monarch butterfly only lays its eggs on Milkweed plants. But there are many such relationships. In our area, the endangered Taylor's Checkerspot butterfly uses Harsh Paintbrush as a host plant. The endangered Fender's Blue butterfly relies on Kinkaid's Lupine. Diadasia bees rely on Checkermallows, and many other specialist pollinators rely on specific flowers. These relationships are all around us - by planting native plants, we support the entire ecosystem.
4. Native Plants Conserve Water
Here in Seattle, we have very dry summers. In some years, we can have multiple successive months with almost no measurable precipitation. Many plants native to this area have developed drought tolerance, so they require much less water than other plants. For many native plants, watering through one or two summer seasons (until the plant is established) is all the water they will ever need from a human. After all, nobody waters the forests or meadows.
Many of the exotic plants that are marketed towards gardeners are not as drought-tolerant as native plants. This means that they require a lot of water through the summer.
As the climate changes, we can expect summers in our area to become even hotter and drier: in 30 or 40 years, our area will likely have a climate similar to today's Southwest Oregon or Northern California. While there are exceptions, many native species will continue to do well with these changes. For some species however, it will be prudent to grow plants from climate-adapted seed sources further south - a process known as assisted migration. Happy Crow Nursery is in the process of identifying seed sources for these species. We only sell plants which we believe will continue to do well as the climate changes.
5. Native Plants Repair Our Relationship with the Earth
It is easy to live a life removed from the natural world. Many of us do. We claim to respect nature, and to care about conservation. But how can you respect something when you don't even know its name? How can you conserve something you rarely even see?
The easiest way to learn about our native ecosystem is to have native plants in your yard or on your balcony. Just by observing your immediate surroundings, you can learn about the various bee species that utilize nectar sources throughout the full year, the bird species that call out while still hidden in a shrub, or the hawks and eagles that use tall trees to hunt for prey.
It is not necessary to become an ecologist to have a positive impact on the environment - we can simply plant native plants with the knowledge that they will be used by the species around us.
Happy Crow Nursery primarily operates on Coast Salish ancestral lands, specifically those of the Duwamish (dxʷdəwʔabš, People of the Inside) and Snoqualmie (sdukʷalbixʷ, People of the Moon) tribes. They have stewarded this area since time immemorial, and continue to do so today. In so doing, they have operated with respect for the land, gained knowledge of its ecology, and built personal relationships to the species that live here.
At Happy Crow Nursery, we aim to learn from their experience, to practice stewardship and respect in our operations, and to enable our partners and customers to build their own relationship to the land.