Tucked away in the small town of Albany, Oregon, a beautiful space called Talking Waters Garden has been developed by the collective vision of many. In hopes of restoring not just native plant species but all that could inhabit the area, are garden was developed and is now thriving. When thinking of urban naturalization it is easy to focus in on an urban area being revitalized by native plant species. When going beyond this idea, the possibilities are endless. A look at the benefits of this garden make this clear:
- Reduce water temperature, or excess thermal load (ETL), to protect sensitive fish habitat.
- Naturally aerate and treat water to improve water quality by reducing pollutant levels, including the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus.
- Restore riparian forest and wetlands through plantings of native species.
- Promote wildlife habitat in a former industrial area by reclaiming treated wastewater for use in healthy wetlands environments.
- Create a living laboratory that brings wetland science to life for K-12 and university students and informs visitors about responsible water reclamation and environmental sustainability.
- Create a new natural attraction for Albany-area visitors that integrates the history of the site and the Willamette River. (Talk Waters Garden)
The idea for this garden was one that goes beyond sustainability and touches on the importance of "deepening an understanding of ourselves." A space that can bring people together regardless of all other beliefs and identities can serve a a place to build community. This garden manages to this, and many other purposes. Watch the video below to hear form the daughter of the man who helped make this space possible with a vision beyond money but about human interaction with earth.
When one walks through the gardens, they are met by frogs in the duckweed, native snakes slithering across the walking paths, and water flowing around plants and rocks. It is a quiet space that serves as a place of peace from the hectic pace of daily life without having to leave town to enjoy it. While one enjoys the garden they are also present for the process of cooling down and lowering pollutants in the local water that will go back to the river and those who inhabit it. Below is a clipping from the brochure of Talking Water Gardens.
If you ever have the chance to check out this hidden gem, it is worth the experience and education you will receive on your walk through the garden.