Friday, May 31, 2013

Madison Valley Stormwater Park

Madison Valley Stormwater Park May 2012

Madison Valley Stormwater Park May 2012 

Madison Valley Stormwater Park May 2012 

Lupine in the Madison Valley Stormwater Park May 2012

 Madison Valley Stormwater Park May 2012

The Madison Valley Stormwater Park, also known as the Phase 1 of the Madison Valley Stormwater Project & the Madison Valley Drainage Basin, is a response to flooding in Madison Valley during times of heavy rain fall.  Tragically, a Madison Valley woman, Kate Fleming, died when a flash flood trapped her inside her basement studio in December 2006.  The nicely landscaped basin makes a very pleasant park.  

From the Seattle Public Utilities website:  The Madison Valley drainage basin in Seattle is an area that is located east of Capitol Hill, west and south of Washington Park, and north of the Central District. Shaped by a glacier and eroded by floods, the valley has steep hillsides and was once drained by a stream that emptied into Union Bay via what is now the University of Washington Arboretum. In the late 1860s, a wagon road was cut through from downtown to Madison Park along the current route of E Madison St. In the 1880s, a cable railway with a trestle across the valley was constructed to provide better access to Madison Park and environs. In the early 1900s, the trestle was replaced with fill, which blocked the natural watercourse, and a combined sewer trunk pipe was built to carry sewage and stormwater under the fill and northward. 

Over the past several decades, there have been a number of instances of flooding in Madison Valley. On August 22, 2004 and December 14, 2006, storm events which hit the city and the Madison Valley neighborhood were especially severe, causing some residents around 30th Ave. E and E John St. to have up to 5 feet of water in their basements and flooding in their backyards. Seattle Public Utilities built an interim stormwater holding area at 30th Ave. E and E John St. which was completed in late December 2006 and holds up to 1 million gallons of stormwater during large rain storms. As the alternatives for the long-term solution were considered, improving stormwater infrastructure on E Madison St. near 29th Ave. E also was an important consideration. Seattle Public Utilities undertook an extensive public involvement effort through the development and selection of the preferred alternative, which was approved for implementation by Seattle City Council and the mayor in June 2008. 

Phase 1 of the Madison Valley Stormwater Project included the expansion of the 1 million gallon above-ground stormwater holding area at 30th Ave. E and E John Street. This facility now has the capacity to hold 1.7 million gallons of stormwater during very large storms. Construction of Phase 1 began in summer 2009 and the expanded stormwater holding area was operational by the end 2009.  Click here for a plan of the park.

Friday, May 24, 2013


 The border at the front of the house at Heronswood. May 2013

 The pond near the house. May 2013

The kitchen garden, or potager.  This is an excellent use of the formal style to contain vegetables & give structure to a kitchen garden.  In gardens such as this, there are echoes of baroque France.

This is a folly in the woodland garden. The structure, which is part fountain & part Greek temple with a definite air of ruination, was built in a style popular in gardens during the late 1980s & early 1990s in the Seattle area.  It falls into the category of postmodern architecture.  If it remains, I'm sure it will be interesting from a historical perspective.

 Hosta & Ferns. May 2013

Kniphofia northiae, one of the uncommon plants to be found at Heronswood. May 2013

Thanks to Max P. for identifying this as Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold'  There are no plant tags at Heronswood.

Heronswood is quite a famous place among plant enthusiasts in the Seattle area & known around the world by horticulturalists familiar with the botanical collections of Dan Hinkley, who established the gardens & a nursery with his partner Robert Jones on 15 acres on the Kitsap Peninsula outside of Kingston, WA in 1987.  They lived in a house on the property.  The gardens have been featured internationally as an example of creative, environmentally sensitive & botanically impressive garden design.

The garden & nursery business were bought by the W. Atlee Burpee Company for close to $4.5 million in 2000.  Burpee closed the garden in 2006 & moved many of the nursery plants to sites on the east coast.  The Heronswood botanical garden and Heronswood Nursery Company was sold to the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in 2012.  Burpee originally asked $11 million for the property.  The tribe bought it for less than $1 million.

In 2001, Valerie Easton wrote for the Seattle Times: Last summer, gardeners gasped over the sale of homegrown Heronswood to W. Atlee Burpee. It seemed an unlikely union. Heronswood has a worldwide reputation for being first with "gotta-have-it" plants, while Burpee's image is as stodgy as the familiar annuals and vegetable seed it has offered for 125 years. But why would Heronswood, with all its success and even adulation, join forces with Burpee? Hinkley says they weren't looking to sell, but explains, "Robert and I were drowning in the responsibilities of this thing we had created . . . there was no down time."

Hinkley and Jones plan to make good use of that newfound time. They'll continue to manage the nursery. Jones, an architect, is designing a new house, where they look forward to having a smaller, private garden. Hinkley is scheduled to give 57 talks in several countries this year, hopes to finish the three books he is writing, and plans to devote more time to expeditions. He'll journey twice to Europe and Japan this spring and then to Nepal or southeast Tibet in the autumn, bringing back yet more plants to excite us.

In 2006, Anne Raver wrote for the New York Times: On May 30, the Heronswood Nursery gardens in Kingston, Wash., the horticultural paradise that Daniel J. Hinkley and Robert Jones started 19 years ago with a single truckload of rare plants — which eventually grew into a collection that would change the face of American gardening — were closed by W. Atlee Burpee & Company, the nursery's corporate owner. Mr. Hinkley said in a telephone interview that George Ball, Burpee's C.E.O., and three of his staff members came that day from Burpee's Pennsylvania properties to dismiss Mr. Hinkley and most of the nursery's 24 employees. 

Heronswood opened to the public for the 1st time in 7 years on May 18, 2013.  As you might expect, the gardens don't look as nice as they once did.  I haven't been there since before it was sold in 2000.  But the place was not a disappointment.  One would hope to see steady improvement in the future.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bradner Gardens Plot B29B

Viburnum x burkwoodii 'Mohawk' with plot B29B at upper right in April 2013

Allium karataviense in May 2013

Pacific Coast Hybrid Iris in May 2013

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) & Luzula sylvatica 'Aurea' (Golden Woodrush) in May 2013

Campanula medium (Canterbury Bells) & Paeonia veitchii in May 2013

Above are photos from Bradner Gardens P-Patch plot B29B in late April & early May of 2013.  I moved perennials from my garden to the plot in November 2012.  These grew & spread quickly as the weather warmed abruptly from 55F/13C on 4/30 to 65F/18C on 5/1 & on to a record high of 87F/30.5C on 5/6.  Most of the cabbage, carrot, Chinese greens, collards & radish seeds I planted on 3/26 had sprouted by 4/26 when I planted bean & squash seeds.  The beans had begun to sprout when I visited again on 5/7 to water thoroughly after the record heat.  Everything had made it through just fine on the abundant rains of April.  I met with the ornamental border lead for an hour on 5/1, which counted as volunteer work.  I decided to work on an inventory of the plants in the border.  It was planted 10 years ago & may need some renovation.  Click here for earlier posts about plot B29B.  Below are photos of the ornamental border & p-patch.

Syringa meyeri 'Palibin' in the Ornamental Border in May 2013

Bradner Gardens P-Patch in May 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

April in Seattle

Prunus serrulata (Flowering Cherry) on Beacon Hill April 2013

Rhododendron (Azalea) & Picea (Spruce) on Beacon Hill April 2013

Seed packets on the sidewalk in front of a shop in Chinatown April 2013

King Street Station in Pioneer Square has been renovated & restored for $56 million.  It was built in 1906 with the tower modeled on the campanile in piazza San Marco in Venice.  5 Amtrak trains depart daily for Portland, 2 for Vancouver BC & 1 for Spokane, carrying 672,000 passengers yearly. King Street Station is the 14th-busiest stop in the United States.

Magnolia in Seward Park.

April 2013 in Seattle was slightly warmer & much wetter than normal.  The mean temperature was 50.8F/10.4C.  The normal mean temperature is 50.3F/10.2C.  Total precipitation was 5.89 inches.  Normal precipitation is 2.71 inches.  The highest temperature was 71F/21.7C, the lowest 38F/3.3C.  There were 5 days with heavy rain, 10 days with rain, 20 days with light rain, 16 days with fog, 4 days with haze, 21 cloudy days, 6 partly cloudy days & 3 fair days.  Even with the abundance of rain, the month was mostly pleasant.  There were 12 days with very little, or no rain.  Temperatures were cool, but not cold.

I moved (temporarily) to a large apartment building on April 6.  Then I ceased to garden, except for an occasional visit to my tiny plot at Bradner Gardens Park.  At 7.6 acres, Othello Park is a fairly large, but not very interesting space across the street behind my building, almost entirely lawn with rather few trees.  It has recently been renovated with a small amphitheater & new asphalt paths.  I walk the dog there.

I get more pleasure looking out from the 7th-floor apartment at the topography of the southern end of the Rainier Valley.  A friend once called this the DEEP south, just 2 miles from the southern city limits.  To the west, there is a woodland along the east flank of Beacon Hill filled mostly with Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf Maple) & to the east there is quite an assortment of trees in the upscale neighborhood on Graham Hill in Seward Park.  The land also rises to the north to form a low ridge that cuts across the valley at Hillman City.  Here the neighborhoods of Brighton & Dunlap sit in a sort of a bowl.