Decoding Plants: Seeing Urban Trees with New Eyes

I’m excited to be teaching a botany/ecology course with the Portland Underground Grad School in October. This is the next course in my Decoding Plants series – this time a schedule-friendly weekend workshop! Please join us! Details below.

Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14 – 15, 10 am – 3 pm
Location: Overlook Neighborhood (You’ll receive meeting information upon registration)
$160 individual/$225 corporate || 20 student maximum

Registration open at Portland Underground Grad School

Deepen your connection with the place we live by tuning in to the world of trees and learning how the flora of our bio-region is in flux. Understanding the species we share our home with positions us to be advocates for conservation and offers tools for reimagining our personal and collective relationships to nature.

Have you ever walked around your neighborhood, or gone on a hike, and wished you knew the names of the trees you saw? Have you ever wondered how they fit into the ecosystem and what uses they have? Have you ever felt daunted by conifer identification? In this class, you’ll learn to recognize our local trees and how to identify conifers. By the end of the course, you’ll have created your own guide to 10 major tree families – and you will have fresh eyes for the trees that live right outside your door.

Day 1: Tree Patterns. Explore the taxonomy (how plants are classified according to their relationships) and morphology (the form and parts of a plant) of trees and meet our first five plant families, including native and introduced species. Practice using a key to identify conifers.

Day 2: Tree Communication. Learn how trees interact with each other and other species in the ecosystem. We’ll discuss the ethnobotany of trees in the Willamette Valley including edible, medicinal and culturally significant species. Take a woodland walk to practice identifying five more tree families.

What to bring: Sketch book, pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener
Optional texts: Botany in a Day by Thomas Elpel, Pacific Coast Tree Finder by Tom Watts
Bring drinking water and a bag lunch or buy lunch at one of several nearby cafes.
Dress for the weather and bring sun/rain protection, and whatever you need to be comfortable walking outdoors.



Posted in Botany, Ecological Restoration, Ecology, Events, Native Plants, Permaculture, Social Forestry, Trees, urban flora, Workshops | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Join the Resilience Design Newsletter

My next e-newsletter will be a summer reading list and movies that form the inspiration for my permaculture work and teaching and I consider an essential tool kit for earth repair of all kinds. I would love to share it with you – sign up to receive the next newsletter!

Subscribe to the Resilience Design Newsletter

Receive monthly or quarterly updates on sustainable landscaping, seasonal gardening and environmental issues related to conservation and ecological living. Stay in the loop about upcoming workshops and events too.

Posted in Ecological Restoration, Landscape Design, Permaculture | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Decoding Plants – Summer Session

I’m excited to teach a mid-summer session of my botany course with the Portland Underground Graduate School. Registration and Details  Portland Underground Grad School

Decoding Plants: Seeing Urban Flora with New Eyes
Tuesdays, July 8th – August 1st || 6:30-8:30 pm
Meets in Overlook Neighborhood || North Portland
Four weeks, $100 || Space is limited to 20 students.



Posted in Botany, Native Plants, Permaculture, Seasons, Uncategorized, Wildflowers, Workshops | Tagged | Leave a comment

Plant Sale at Permaculture Rising – This Sunday!

Check out permaculture teacher Marisha Auerbach’s urban homestead and plant sale this Sunday in Southeast Portland. Marisha grows wonderful organic veggie starts, berries, medicinal herbs and more. Find her plant list and information about her garden here. Her partner Zane will give a tour of their lush permaculture garden at 11 am.

Resilience Design will be a guest vendor at the sale on Sunday with fruit trees, berry bushes, native plants, seeds and many more multi-functional plants – current availability here.

Sunday, June 11, 10 am – 2pm
4816 SE 50th Ave., just north of Raymond St.
Woodstock Neighborhood

Posted in Edibles, Events, Food Not Lawns, Grow Your Own, Native Plants, Permaculture, Pesticide Free, Pollinators, Remarkable Gardeners | Leave a comment

Plant Shopping in May/June

Thank you everyone who made our plant sale a wonderful day! So much sunshine, so many plants going out into the world to build more pollinator habitat, food forests and happy harvests for dinner time.

The Resilience Design Nursery will be open by appointment for shopping till June 17, and then will close till fall planting time. Email Mulysa to set up a time to come by and pick out seeds, plants and see the garden. or 503-956-0152

There are wonderful plants still, check out the catalog here. The list is not updated – but will be soon – there are a number of species available not listed and a few things have sold out.

A few of the plants available:

ResilienceDesign_Prunella IMG_6706

Tomato 'Pineapple'

Tomato ‘Pineapple’

ResilienceDesign_AlpineStrawberry ResilienceDesign_Persimmon

Red raspberry.

Red raspberry.

Fall gold raspberry

Fall gold raspberry

ResilienceDesign_Apple ResilienceDesign_Blueberry





Posted in Ecological Restoration, Edibles, Events, Grow Your Own, Native Plants, Permaculture, Pesticide Free | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resilience Design Plant Sale and Open Garden – May 21

You’re invited! Come tour Mulysa’s garden, enjoy spring refreshments and shop for plants! Check out the Plant and Seed catalog here. Tomato variety listings here. There will be LOTS more at the sale that’s not on the list yet including cutting flower starts and annual veggies from Stemtown Floral.

Can’t make the sale? Order plants by email/phone or make an appointment to shop! Questions? mulysa  @


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spring is here! Get the help you need to make it a great garden year.

It’s time to plan and plant our gardens and new landscape projects for the year! Whether it’s starting your dream garden, tackling that corner of the yard that’s always been awkward, or upping your edible gardening game, Resilience Design has a lot of ways to offer support and expertise. If you’d like to talk about your ideas, check out my consultation page for how to get started.

Resilience Design offers ~

Consultation can be the first step in the design process or a stand-alone service that provides you with guidance and insight about your property. $100/hr. Travel fees may apply outside the Portland metro area.

Landscape Design from concept sketches to detailed master plans, having a design will help ensure your effort and dollars are moving you towards the landscape you want, one that is well-suited for your site and lifestyle. A ‘systems’ perspective will take into account the flows of inputs and outputs from your property, helping to make it as efficient and ecologically-friendly as it is beautiful. For typical urban lots, master plan design fees start at $2,200 for a front yard or $3,200 for a full yard plan that includes:

  • Two meetings at your site
  • Base map
  • Layout master plan with hardscape elements/paths/bed
  • Planting diagram
  • A detailed plant list with care notes
  • Resources and maintenance packet
  • For DIY clients I include notes on installation as well.

I also offer:

  • Meadowscaping kits to transform your planting strip or part of your yard into easy-care native habitat. Available for DIY or full service installation.
  • Mini-design services by the hour to help with smaller projects. A budget-friendly option for getting planning help with yard layout, problem areas, landscape updates and more.
  • Landscape design coaching program – you create your own yard design through a series of work sessions. A budget-friendly option for who want to learn a lot about their site and experience the permaculture design process.

Garden Coaching – working along side you in your yard, we can accomplish a lot of seasonal tasks and you’ll learn along the way! Starts at $75/hr

Garden Maintenance – expert help with pruning, perennial care and seasonal tasks to keep your garden healthy and looking its best. Starts at $55/hr.

Plants and Seeds – check out our selection of edible and native plants! Available by appointment, order via email or join us for the Resilience Design Open Garden and Plant Sale on Sunday, May 21, 2017 from noon to 6 pm.

Questions or ready to schedule a consultation? Email Mulysa at

~ Live in North Portland? Ask about neighborhood specials. ~

Thank you for supporting local and women-owned businesses! 

Posted in Ecological Restoration, Edibles, Events, Landscape Design, Permaculture | Leave a comment



Douglas aster provides a long season of nectar for a wide variety of pollinators including butterflies, native bees and honey bees.

Meadows will soon be in bloom, providing rich habitat and beauty all season long. Did you know that much of the Willamette Valley was once open prairie? The native meadow habitat included annual and perennials flowers like the ones pictured here, plus many species of grasses. In some places white oak woodland merged with the prairie, creating savannah biomes. These rich and diverse environments held many species of pollinators, birds and other animals and were tended and harvested by indigenous people for thousands of years. These habitats are nearly extinct, but you can help them make a comeback by creating a meadow in your yard – be it small or large! 

Meadows are colorful, diverse, beautiful in every season – and a key way to help out pollinators. Since 40% of the urban area is residential properties, the habitat efforts we make in our yards add up to make a positive impact, especially when we work together to create habitat corridors.

Every 19 blocks, on average, parking strips (or ‘planting strips’, or is you’re from the Midwest, ‘boulevards’ or East Coast, ‘tree lawns’ – that space between the street and sidewalk) make up about an acre of underutilized space. That bit of land between the street and sidewalk can be quite productive – offering habitat, filtering runoff, helping sink rain water, sequestering carbon and providing beauty and a sense of regional place.  It’s a small way to #resist.

Resilience Design is pleased to offer locally native plants, seed and meadowscaping services in the Portland Metro area.


Fare-well-to-spring (Clarkia)

What is a Meadow?
A meadow is a grassy landscape with a diverse mix of wildflowers. I think of it as being a mini-prairie, one that is tended somehow. The Meadowscaping Handbook says “A Meadow is a tract of land dominated by grass and other non-woody plants, either in its natural state or used for a purpose. Until recently, the term meadow was used to describe a grassy feature of the managed rural landscape such as a pasture or its urban relative, the lawn. In this guide we’ll use the descriptor urban meadow to describe managed groups of native prairie plants.”

What is Meadowscaping?
Meadowscaping is the practice of creating urban meadows with locally native plants with the intention of providing multiple benefits including pollinator and bird habitat, rainwater infiltration, sinking carbon and other ecological functions – and greening and beautifying our neighborhoods.

~~Meadow Goods and Services ~~

Meadow Seed
Willamette Valley native wildflower meadow seed. This mix grows 18-24″ tall and has species that bloom in spring, summer and fall for continuous nectar flow. 75% of the species are perennial (they come back every year), 25% are reseeding annual species, many of which will bloom the first year. $22/oz.  (1 oz covers 400 sq. ft.)


Summer blooms in Mulysa’s parking strip meadow.

Also available, limited quantities of locally native seed by species including Great Northern aster, Douglas aster, Yarrow and Western milkweed.

Meadow plants 
Resilience Design’s urban micro nursery has a selection of native wildflowers for you meadow in 3.5″ pots including meadow foam, yarrow, self-heal, Western milkweed, Oregon sunshine, Douglas aster, California fescue, Roemer’s fescue, plus #1 pots of meadow shrubs including red-twig dogwood, willows and wild rose.

Meadowscaping Kits 
For your parking strip or a portion of your yard. Get all the information, seeds and plants to create your own meadow garden, or hire us to create your dream meadow in 1-3 days. The cost depends on the site of your site.

DIY – starts at $500 for a small parking strip. Includes an initial consultation, a design and instructions, locally native wildflower and grass seeds and plants and a follow up consultation.


Bumblebee on Checkermallow (Sidalcea).

Full Service Installation – starts at $850 for a small parking strip. Includes all of the above plus materials and labor to prepare the site and install the meadow. Partnering with Apogee Landscapes.

Contact Mulysa to purchase plants and seeds or start the Meadow kit process.

Meadow Resources 

The Meadowscaping Handbook A guide to planning, installing and maintaining an urb an meadow.

Pollinator Parkways A project in East Portland to ‘Flip the Strip’ and create habitat corridors for “pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, flies, wasps and other amazing fauna like ladybugs, beetles, and worms can thrive.” Check out their how-to guide!


Sweat bee on Madia (Tarweed).

The Portland Plant List is a user-friendly guide to the locally native flora of our Metro area, with plant community information, flowering season and more. It also includes a list of “nuisance” species. (And an appendix of plants that do not attract birds and allowed near the airport, where wildlife poses a serious hazard. So… if you do want to create habitat,  note that many ornamental plants provide little to no value to local wildlife.)

Backyard Habitat Certification Program A local certification program that offers a wealth of resources to home gardeners wanting to manage invasive weeds, plant natives, go pesticide free, manage stormwater and steward wildlife.

Photos and content by Mulysa Melco © 2017

Posted in Ecological Restoration, Landscape Design, Native Plants, Permaculture, Pesticide Free, Pollinators, Seasons, Uncategorized, urban flora, Wildflowers | Leave a comment

Changing Tides: Citizen-Led Action for Pesticide Free Parks

Changing Tides: Citizen-Led Action for Pesticide Free Parks
A one-day workshop with Rewild Portland

I’m excited to co-teach this workshop with Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystems Restoration. 
Learn about the concerns regarding the use of environmental toxins like herbicides in public parks and natural areas with the hope of generating momentum to build critical mass of public support for pesticide-free initiatives. We will discuss the current state of pesticide regulation, and learn how citizens can take action to steward the spaces where we, our children, and our pets access nature in our neighborhoods.

Sunday, April 30th || 10:00am – 4:00 pm
Trillium Charter School || 5420 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97217
One Day, $55 || Space is limited.

Register here. 

About the instructors:

Tao Orion is the author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration. She teaches permaculture design at Oregon State University and at Aprovecho, a 40-acre nonprofit sustainable-living educational organization. Tao consults on holistic farm, forest, and restoration planning through Resilience Permaculture Design, LLC. She holds a degree in agroecology and sustainable agriculture from UC Santa Cruz, and grows organic fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and animals on her southern Willamette Valley homestead, Viriditas Farm.

Mulysa Melco is a landscape designer and horticulturist in Portland, OR. Through Resilience Design, her sustainable landscape design and consultation studio, she facilitates urban and rural site design and ecological restoration projects. These ‘homesteads and habitats’ are multifunctional spaces that aim to foster reconnection between people and our ecosystems. She teaches workshops on botany, permaculture and ecological living skills. Mulysa has a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and a Master of Agriculture in Horticulture degree (focusing on landscape design and garden history) from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She interned at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in England. In 2014 Mulysa spoke at the National Pesticide Forum about her neighborhood’s campaign to become a pesticide free zone.


Posted in Ecological Restoration, Edibles, Events, Landscape Design, Permaculture, Pesticide Free, urban flora, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drawing Plants Workshop – Feb. 4 -25

img_9383Take an art break! I’m teaching this workshop through the Portland Underground Graduate School. 

Saturdays in February, 2/4, 11, 18, 25, from 2 – 4 pm. $100.

Meet at SE Uplift, 3534 SE Main St, Portland, OR 97214

Observation drawing has a special way of grounding us in the present moment and creating a more spacious sense of time. Focusing on weekly happenings in the local ecosystem world can awaken our knowledge of seasonal cycles.

Meet some intriguing and subtle late winter plants of Portland and learn their stories. Using drawing as a way to explore urban flora, slow down to observe the details that make species unique. And learn some botany terminology and ecology along the way!

Use simple tools—pencil, ink, and paper—to explore the beauty of the nature all around us in midwinter. You’ll leave with a series of works that are a record of your curiosity and observations.

Details and registration at Portland Underground Graduate School. 

Posted in Botany, Drawing, Events, Native Plants, Seasons, urban flora, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment