Hovander Demonstration Gardens
Located within Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale, WA, the Hovander Demonstration Gardens provide educational information and visual demonstrations of home gardening methods. The purpose of the gardens is to showcase sustainable practices and to educate and inspire home gardeners. The gardens are managed by the Master Gardener Foundation through an agreement with Whatcom County Parks and Recreation. Master Gardener volunteers donate over 2,400 hours of labor each year to maintain the gardens. Volunteer efforts include the harvest and donation of over 2,000 pounds of produce each year to the Ferndale Food Bank.
Hovander Homestead Park History
Hovander Homestead Park is named for Hokan and Leontine Hovander who immigrated from Sweden to Ferndale, WA, in 1898. Hokan, an architect, designed the farmhouse, barn and other buildings on the property. The house, which was completed in 1903, includes many distinctive elements of Swedish architecture. The Hovander family farmed the property until 1969 when it was purchased by Whatcom County Parks and Recreation. The park, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, preserves the pioneer history of Whatcom County and the story of the Hovander family. The Demonstration Gardens were installed to provide gardening education for visitors to the park.
Visit and Ask a Master Gardener
You may visit the demonstration gardens anytime during regular park hours, every day, year-round, dawn to dusk. During the growing season, April – September, Wednesday mornings, 9am – noon, Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions. On the third Saturday of each month, May – September, noon – 2pm, Master Gardener docents are available to lead free garden tours.
Please check our calendar for additional Master Gardener events, classes and workshops held throughout the year.
Children’s Story Garden
The Children’s Story Garden was created in 2011 with Master Gardener Foundation funds and community fund raising. Each garden bed features a favorite children’s book. You will find Peter Rabbit among the lettuce, Jack climbing the beanstalk, the Big Hungry Bear in the strawberry bed, and Paul Bunyan’s Little Free Library. Children and their parents can select and read books from the library while visiting the garden. The Story Garden is open to all, while programs and events focus on ages four through eight.
Cottage Perennial Gardens
The casual, informal, and unplanned look of the Cottage Perennial Gardens is intended to provide a feeling of romance. Here you will find annuals, roses, and perennials all growing closely together.
We also feature roses selected for their disease resistance in our seasonally wet pacific northwest climate (2021 list) and we feature modern daylilies that bloom throughout the months of July and August.
This sunny garden is designed to provide a cheerful space in which to view the wide variety of dahlias that can be grown in Whatcom County. We grow close to 70 examples of the various types and forms of Dahlias and feature many that have been hybridized by Whatcom County gardeners.
Each September we hold a workshop on growing dahlias, demonstrating how to lift from the ground and store them for the winter.
Each spring, 2,000 tomatoes and 1,000 herbs and vegetables are grown in the greenhouse for our annual plant sale. During the summer, volunteers carry out demonstration projects for the public, such as growing warm weather vegetables in the greenhouse.
Mixed Border Garden of Great Plant Picks
This long mixed tree, shrub and perennial border on the east side of the Hovander House features Great Plant Picks. Great Plant Picks are a selection of plants that have been studied for their performance in our maritime Pacific Northwest climate. The Great Plant Picks website is our resource for plant selection.
Modern Culinary Herb Garden
This garden contains a variety of herbs from around the world that are finding their way into contemporary cuisines. They can be grown here and used to enhance flavors in savory and sweet dishes, as well as in teas. Signage in our garden describes growing conditions, harvesting, and uses for each herb. Click here for our 2021 species list.
Native Plants Garden
To showcase the beautiful plants of the Pacific Northwest, this garden features a wide variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, and ferns, including a few ornamental favorites such as Evergreen Huckleberry, Mock Orange, Star-Flowered False Solomon’s Seal, and Wild Ginger. This garden was damaged by flooding in 2021 and has been moved to a new location.
The annuals, perennials, and shrubs in this garden provide food and habitat for butterflies, hummingbirds, flower flies, and many kinds of bees, including honey bees, mason bees, leaf-cutter bees, and pollen bees, as well as a variety of other pollinator species such as moths and bats. Plants are chosen to provide pollen and nectar throughout our long growing season.
Traditional Herb Garden
Located near the back-kitchen door of the Hovander House, this garden contains herbs likely harvested by Mrs. Hovander for cooking and herbal remedies. Visitors can walk the path and enjoy the old-time herbs used to sustain early pioneer family life.
Visitors can observe gardening techniques in action and ask questions about their own food growing endeavors. Summer workshops reveal the basics of vegetable gardening in Whatcom County and how to prepare a fall vegetable garden. Each year, over 2,000 lbs. of produce are harvested and donated to the Ferndale Food Bank.
Weed Identification Garden
One of our most popular demonstration gardens with examples of over 100 weeds to help you to identify those you may have growing in your home gardens. Educational signs inform you of the many useful aspects of weeds, including their origins, how they grow and spread, and whether they are edible or invasive or useful to pollinators like bees.