Friday, October 25, 2013

Sidewalk Garden on E Thomas Street

Lavandula stoechas, Bergenia, Fuchsia magellanica, Mahonia aquifolium & Miscanthus sinensis in the 
Sidewalk Garden on E Thomas Street October 2012

Vaccinium corymbosum, Mahonia aquifolium & Philadelphus in the 
Sidewalk Garden on E Thomas Street October 2012

Vaccinium corymbosum, Mahonia aquifolium & Philadelphus in the 
Sidewalk Garden on E Thomas Street October 2012

Berberis thunbergii & Nandina domestica in the Sidewalk Garden on E Thomas Street October 2012

 Mahonia aquifolium in the Sidewalk Garden on E Thomas Street October 2012

This is one of the most exuberant sidewalk plantings I have encountered on the streets of Seattle.  I really love it.  The plants are great.  They provide color throughout much of the year & fruit in the summer & fall.  Many of the plants are repeated.  But they are not repeated too often, which is the most disappointing aspect of landscape design in general.  Some of the plants most used in this garden are Bergenia (Elephant Ears) Fuchsia magellanica (Hardy Fuchsia) Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo) Philadelphus (Mock Orange) Vaccinium corymbosum (Blueberry) & Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry).  Blueberry is not a good choice for a sidewalk garden, because it does not tolerate dryness.  Lavender is a very xeric plant & commonly used.  

The major concern I have this garden is that it does not follow the guidelines set by the City of Seattle, which limits the height of plants in parking strips to 30 inches.  This is important because taller plants block the visibility of cars on the street & can be dangerous for driving.  I have often had problems while driving, when crossing streets, or turning onto them, because the plants were to tall to see approaching cars.  I have come close to collision several times.  This garden is on a street corner, which seems particularly unsafe.  That said, I must admit that the plants in my own sidewalk garden (the Cascadia Garden) exceeded 30 inches.  But that garden was mid-block, with no driveways on that side of the street.  The city does not inspect sidewalk gardens, unless there is a complaint.

From the Seattle Department of Transportation: Planting strip treatments: Plants in planting strips vary greatly in their potential to provide optimum pedestrian and environmental benefits. Though SDOT allows the installation of grass the department encourages the installation of low (24-30 inches) shrubs, perennial or groundcover plantings that provide a superior degree of separation between the sidewalk and street at reduced maintenance costs.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Schmitz Preserve Park

 Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) & Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) in Schmitz Preserve Park October 2011

Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf Maple) in Schmitz Preserve Park October 2011

 Polypodium glycyrrhiza (Licorice Fern) in Schmitz Preserve Park October 2011

Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern) in Schmitz Preserve Park October 2011

SW Admiral Way Bridge over Schmitz Preserve Park October 2011

Schmitz Preserve Park in West Seattle is a natural wonder.  It covers 53 acres in a ravine filled with old growth forest, creeks, trails & a multitude of native plants.  Unfortunately, the Inaugural Day Storm of 1993 blew down several of the remaining old growth trees in the park, leaving precious few.  A larger old growth forest (120 acres) exists in Seward Park & some old growth trees can be found in Lincoln Park in a more park-like setting.  Schmitz Preserve was donated to the city in pieces between 1908 & 1912. The largest portion (30 acres) came from Ferdinand Schmitz, who served on the park commission at that time. It was Schmitz's idea to preserve part of the rapidly disappearing forest in its natural state.  Additions to the park were purchased in 1930, 1947, and 1958.  From the park, it is possible to walk down the ravine, past Schmitz Park Elementary School, through the Alki Playground to the Alki business district & Alki Beach Park.

Friday, October 11, 2013

September in Seattle

Brighton in September 2013
Chrysanthemum & Dahlia in Columbia City in September 2013 

Downtown Seattle on 5th Avenue in September 2013

Saint James Cathedral on 1st Hill in September 2013

 Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) along Lake Washington in Seward Park in September 2013

September 2013 in Seattle was warmer & much wetter than normal. The mean temperature was 63.2F/17.3C.  The normal mean temperature is 61.6F/16.4C.  The highest temperature was 93F/33.9C, the lowest 45F/7.2C.  Total precipitation was 5.01 inches/127.25mm, which set a record for the month of September.  Normal precipitation is 1.52 inches/38.61mm.  The previous record was 2.9 inches/73.66mm in 2010.  There were 3 days with heavy rain, 4 days with rain, 18 days with light rain, 9 days with fog, 7 cloudy days, 20 partly cloudy days & 3 fair days.  The high temperature of 93F/33.9C on 9/11 was a shock after a summer with very few hot days.  It was 80F/26.7C the day before & 78F/25.6C the day after.  The heavy rain (3.1 inches/78.74mm) that fell 9/28-30 was also a surprise.  So much rain in just a few days usually happens only in winter.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Station at Othello Park

Come Dance with Me, an artwork by Augusta Asberry, at The Station at Othello Park in August 2013.  The plantings include Nasella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass) Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass) & Euphorbia x martinii.

Othello Station in August 2013

Hebe 'Champion' at The Station at Othello Park in August 2013

Gunnera & Liriope spicata at The Station at Othello Park in August 2013

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola', Liriope spicata & Nandina domestica at The Station at Othello Park in August 2013

I lived at The Station at Othello Park from April through October of 2013, after my house in Mt Baker was sold & before the construction of my house in Rainier Vista was finished.  I thought the landscaping there was fairly good for a commercial project.  Much of it is visible from the sidewalks around the 351-unit, 7-floor building on the southeast corner of S Othello Street & Martin Luther King Jr Way S.  The building opened directly across from the Othello Station (light rail) in 2011.