What a day for the Garry oaks in Oak Harbor! City staff officially cut the ribbon on a stunning new interpretive display and park name sign for Smith Park, and, along with Garry Oak Society volunteers, planted three new Garry oaks in honor of community members who served on the Oak Harbor Parks Board. Both the interpretive display and park sign incorporate Garry oak wood from the 330 year old Post Office Oak – they are examples of amazing craftsmanship for the people of Oak Harbor to enjoy!
The history of Smith Park, documented on the beautiful Interpretive sign, shows just how significant this park was to the people of early Oak Harbor when it essentially functioned as the village square. Oak Park, or Oak Park Free Camp, as it was called then, was where people went for picnics, livestock shows, band concerts, and socials of many kinds. People visited in the fresh air and watched as children chased and played games in the tall grass dotted with native wildflowers.
Throughout the decades the Oak Harbor Garden Club held an important place in the care of the Park, and funded significant structures such as the picket fence and the gazebo.
This past fall, the Garry oaks in Smith Park were all carefully pruned by the city, and, with the addition of the new name sign and the interpretive signs, this unique space looks well cared for and loved. It is impressive in that so far as we know, there is no other city Park in the State of Washington comprised solely of Garry oak trees in such great a number. It is a place we can truly be proud of that contributes greatly to our city’s cultural identity and our shared sense of place.
In Smith Park we see nature’s greatest handiwork. To the south are the sparkling clean waters of Puget Sound. In the distance are snow-capped Olympic mountain views. And all around, the mighty Garry oaks. As we celebrated the legacy of Dee Harbour, Tomas Hawkins, and Helen Chatfield-Weeks, who served our city on the parks board, three new Garry oak trees in their honor will be a reminder that Smith Park continues to be a special place for us all.
Thank you to all those who made this day possible! Together, we are growing a legacy that will last for generations to come.