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Growing Wild 

Wildflower show highlights native and floral diversity

Hikers hitting the trails this summer can expect to see tons of beautiful scenery, especially when it comes to wildflowers. Central Oregon is full of them—blue ones, pink ones, tall ones, short ones—full of them. However, describing these flowers beyond simple color and size adjectives can be intimidating.

"The problem that people often come across is they will go on a hike and they'll see this amazing flower, but they won't know what kind it is," said Olivia Wallace, a naturalist at Sunriver Nature Center. "There are so many different species that it really takes an expert to identify them."

Hikers, budding botanists and everyone in between are in luck, though, because the Nature Center will host the 2016 Central Oregon Wildflower Show this weekend.

This annual event will showcase wildflowers native to the region, and experts will be on hand to educate visitors about the unique properties of each flower. Additionally, the show will have flowers available for purchase and guest lectures at SHARC (Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center).

The two-day show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, and closes one hour earlier on Sunday, June 12. Weekend admission is $6 for adults and $4 for kids, and covers all the events.

Central Oregon's unique environment helps thousands of native flowers and plants to thrive each year, and the Nature Center's Wildflower Show highlights hundreds of these botanical wonders, Wallace said.

"Many of the flowers are brought in just for this event," she said. "We have volunteers that will go out and just take a small trimming off of the plant, and it will get brought in and put into a vase. A lot of these wildflowers are blooming right now, so it's the only good time to see them."

The best way to view and learn about these flowers will be during the hour-long wildflower hikes. These guided walks through the Nature Center's botanical gardens allow visitors to get a close-up view of these native plants. The walks are scheduled for 10 and 11 a.m., and 1 and 2 p.m. on both days.

While the view will definitely be worth talking about, the show plans to jump-start discussions with four lectures. Presented by local experts, these lectures will focus on how Central Oregon's wildflowers affect the environment and wildlife. Scheduled topics include how butterflies and honeybees rely on the native wildflowers to survive, how to incorporate the native plants into landscaping projects, and a visual tour of some of Central Oregon's best wildflower locations. The 45-minute lectures will be held on Saturday only. Visitors can check them out at SHARC starting at 9 a.m.

Visitors can apply their new wildflower knowledge by purchasing wildflowers at the show. The nature center will sell native plants and seeds from its nursery, allowing amateur botanists to continue their wildflower education.

"We have little cards that come with the plants that explain why they're beneficial, which a lot of them are beneficial to butterflies and native bees, which is extremely important for Central Oregon," Wallace said.

Lastly, volunteers can assist in cleaning up the botanical gardens on Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m.

Few places in the United States can boast the floral diversity of Central Oregon, and this event allows locals to learn much more about the one-of-a-kind nature surrounding them. With so much to see and learn, the Central Oregon Wildflower Show is a great chance to get out and smell more than just the roses.

The Sunriver Nature Center

57245 River Rd., Sunriver



57250 Overlook Rd., Sunriver


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