Friday, February 2, 2018

Pike Pine Corridor

Pine Street & 15th Avenue

Pine Street & 12th Avenue

Union Street & 10th Avenue.  One story facades were incorporated into new buildings.

Chophouse Row between 11th & 12th Avenues, Pike & Union Streets 

10th Avenue between Pike & Pine Streets

Pike Motorworks on Pike Street between Harvard & Boylston Avenues

Pike Street & Summit Avenue

Plymouth Pillars Dog Park between Pike & Pine Streets above Interstate 5. These photos were taken in June 2016.

Click here for more photos of the Pike Pine corridor.

The Pike Pine corridor runs along the edge of Capitol Hill in Seattle, dividing it from the Central District at its eastern end & First Hill at the western end. It is officially know as the Pike/Pine Conservation District. Some say the corridor continues on through Downtown to 1st Avenue. While Pike & Pine Streets originate there, that area is better known as a part of the Downtown Retail Core. Pike & Pine streets are just one block apart. The corridor is 2 or 3 blocks wide, including Union & Madison Streets east of Broadway Avenue & running from Interstate 5 to 15th Avenue, about a mile in length. The surrounding area is one of the most densely populated in Seattle. The Central Seattle College & Seattle University campuses both sit at the edges of the corridor. as does Cal Anderson Park. The Egyptian Theater is a significant historic building within the corridor.

The Pike Pine corridor began to be seriously rebuilt during the Housing Bubble of the mid-2000s & continued again during the Tech Boom of the mid-2010s. Many large apartment buildings of 6 or 7 stories with ground-floor retail were built during those periods. The area had been filled with 100 year old warehouses, thrift stores, auto repair shops & auto dealerships before that time. But there were also bars, coffee houses & restaurants. Broadway Avenue E was the more interesting & much more lively retail district on Capitol Hill before that time. But Broadway has only one retail strip, while Pike Pine covers a retail area of several streets & many side-streets.

In 2009, the City of Seattle expressed its intention to promote the conservation of the corridor’s existing historic character by limiting new development to a scale compatible with the established development pattern, accommodating arts facilities & small businesses at street level, & encouraging the retention of the existing structures & their architectural features that establish the district’s architectural character, especially buildings older than 75 years & those related to Seattle's original auto row. What happened was that a few buildings of 3 or 4 stories were refurbished, while many buildings of 1 or 2 stories were gutted & their facades incorporated into large apartment buildings. But much remains essentially unchanged.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

The White Hills

Arctostaphylos pungens (Manzanita) & the La Madre Mountains

Agave utahensis

Pinyon-Juniper Woodland 

Pinus monophylla (Single-leaf Pinyon)

Red Rock Canyon beyond the woodland

Yucca schidigera

On the last Friday in January 2016, we went to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. We hiked more than 6 miles around the White Rock Hills on the White Rock Loop Trail.  In the canyon between the hills & the La Madre Mountains, there was a Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. We saw quite a variety of plants. There were manzanita & a dozen other shrubs, 6 species of cactus as well as 2 species of Yucca & also Agave utahensis. The climb up through the canyon gave spectacular views & wasn’t difficult. The descent into Red Rock Valley was less interesting & the last 2 miles, along the lower edge of the White Rock Hills, through desert scrub, was exhausting. We hiked for almost 4 hours & never stopped to rest.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay Ferry

Vancouver Island is shown in the 2 photos above.

The waters of the Straight of Georgia

British Columbia Lower Mainland is shown in the 2 photos above. These photos were taken in August 2014.

The Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay ferry route is run by BC Ferries between Lower Mainland (Vancouver Area) & Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.  The crossing takes 1 hour 40 minutes.  It's a beautiful voyage.  The photos above show the progression from Departure Bay near the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island to Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver BC.  The route is mostly open water across the Straight of Georgia with stunning views of the mountains, hills & forests on each side of the straight.  The Straight of Georgia is part of the Salish Sea, which also includes the US waters Puget Sound & the international waters of the Straight of Juan de Fuca, among other bodies of water.  Nanaimo is a charming little city for tourists willing to travel beyond Victoria. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Olympic Sculpture Park

Photos were taken in September 2014.

The Olympic Sculpture Park is one of the finest gardens, public spaces & tourist sites in Seattle.  You can walk here fairly easily along the waterfront from the Seattle Aquarium, through Belltown from the Pike Place Market, or from Seattle Center.  It's about one mile from the market along Western Avenue, or from the aquarium along Alaskan Way & only half a mile from the Space Needle.  It features interesting sculptures, excellent native plant gardens, wonderful views of Elliott Bay, Puget Sound & the Olympic Mountains.  A charming part of the park is the pocket beach on Elliott Bay, which was created there, yet looks completely natural.  One of the most impressive sculptures is Wake by Richard Serra, consisting of 5 large rusted steel pieces, set in a small valley, creating a shaded micro-environment.  The Olympic Sculpture Park was created by the Seattle Art Museum, which can be found in Downtown Seattle on 1st Avenue at Union Street.  The park opened in January 2007.  It covers 9 acres & connects to Myrtle Edwards Park, which extends along the waterfront to the north.  The Olympic Sculpture Park is not gated & entry is free.  The park is open during daylight hours every day of the year.  There is pay parking available in the garage beneath the PACCAR Pavilion. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Portland International Rose Test Garden

These photos were taken in October 2014.

The Portland International Rose Test Garden is located in Washington Park in the hills above Goose Hollow, near the Alphabet District.  It is fairly easy to walk from those locations.  The excellent Portland Japanese Garden is nearby in Washington Park.  While I wouldn't be inclined to visit the rose garden if it were the only attraction there, it is certainly worth a stop when visiting the Japanese garden.  If you are walking up from the city below, you can easily pass through the rose garden on your way to the Japanese garden.  As far as rose gardens go, this one is quite extravagant.  There are over 7,000 rose plants on 4.5 acres.  It's all very nicely arranged.  There is an excellent view of Mt Hood.  But my enthusiasm for roses is limited.  The plants aren't particularly attractive.  The flowers vary in color, but all pretty much look & smell the same.  Roses are probably the most beloved & common garden flower.  That explains both the allure & also the unexciting nature of this garden & rose gardens in general.  Roses are evaluated here & Portland is the only North American city that gives awards to roses from around the world.  Portland is known as the City of Roses.  The Portland Rose Festival has been held in the city every year in June since 1907.  The garden opened in 1924.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Crocus kotschyanus

Crocus kotschyanus is a fall-blooming perennial bulb, flowering in late September & early October.  There are several subspecies from Turkey, the Causasus, Syria & Lebanon.  They can be blue, pink, lilac or purple, usually with conspicuous veins.  They are said to spread readily from seed, but that wasn't true in my garden.  Foliage appears in spring.  The are xeric to the point of needing little or no irrigation.  They can be ordered online or by catalog from various bulb companies.  There are many other species of  Crocus that bloom in the fall.  But most are not easy to find.  If you like Crocus, consider searching for them.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Anacortes-Sidney Ferry

Spieden Island.  These photos were taken in August 2014.

Think of the Anacortes-Sidney Ferry as an inexpensive cruise ship through the San Juan Islands in the waters of the Salish Sea between the US mainland in Washington & Vancouver Island in Canada.  This is the most scenic way to get to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia & a popular tourist destination.  The ferry route passes very near Blakely, Decatur, Lopez, Orcas, Shaw, San Juan, lovely little Spieden & numerous smaller islands, islets & rocks.  The trip takes approximately 2 hours & 30 minutes to 3 hours in each direction.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eucomis comosa

Eucomis comosa is one of the most beautiful perennial bulbs.  It usually blooms in August in Seattle.  The first blossoms open at the bottom of the stalk & slowly proceed to the top.  The dark red seed pods are also quite attractive.  Eucomis comosa is known at the Pineapple Lily because of the tuft of leaves at the top of the flower stalk, which cause it to resemble a pineapple.  This plant is native to South Africa, but hardy in Seattle.  The flower spikes multiply every year.  It comes in colors from white through light pink to deep burgundy.  It is easily available through mail order, the least expensive way to buy it.  You can also get it at nurseries when it is in bloom, but the number of plants available are usually rather few.  Eucomis comosa needs full sun, regular water & rich soil to grow well.  It does not tolerate dryness.  It looks lovely in pots, but does much better in the ground.  I think they look very nice combined with oriental lilies, as shown in the photo above.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Alphabet District in Portland

These photos were taken in October 2014.

The Alphabet District is my favorite part of Portland OR, a city I have visited often.  It is one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Portland. Much of the architecture is quite charming, built between 1890 & 1950. It has an impressive retail district, with many shops & restaurants on NW 23rd Avenue, somewhat fewer on NW 21st Avenue & W Burnside Street. The Alphabet District is named for the alphabetical arrangement of streets from Burnside to Wilson across the district. These same streets also run through the Pearl District & Old Town/Chinatown, within walking distance.

John H Couch staked a claim to the square mile directly north of Portland in 1845. When laying out his claim, he used the same 200 x 200 foot blocks as the original plat of Portland. Streets were given numbers & letters in alphabetical order, later named in 1891. He followed the bend of the Willamette River in orienting this grid, creating angled & misaligned streets along W Burnside Street. The original plat went as far as west as 8th Street & north to Glisan Street. Subdivision reached NW 16th Street by 1865. This grid was later extended to most of Northwest Portland.

The Alphabet District is part of the Northwest District & also called Nob Hill. The North South Line of the Portland Streetcar runs through the district on NW Lovejoy & NW Northrup Streets as far as NW 23rd Avenue on its was to & from the Pearl District & Downtown Portland.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Clematis integrifolia

Clematis integrifolia 'Hanajima'

Clematis integrifolia is a flowering perennial for sun.  It blooms from early to mid-summer in Seattle.  The word Clematis is taken from the Greek word for climbing plants.  Integrifolia means entire-leaf.  Botanically speaking, an entire leaf has a smooth edge, is not toothed.  This Clematis is not a vine.  It has stems of maybe 18 inches long that don't cling.  The stems are floppy & will cascade over a low wall, lie flat on the ground, or prop themselves against other plants.  Each stem bears several flowers.  The number of stems increase as the plant matures.  The usual flower color is blue, but 'Hanajima' is pink.  Flowers are simple & charming, each with 4 petals.  The plant is not drought tolerant, but doesn't need a lot of water.  Plant them among other perennials, but don't allow them to become shaded. Clematis integrifolia is native to Italy, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Siberia & Central Asia.