Be ready to enjoy the rare stink as Volunteer Park Conservatory’s corpse flower prepares to bloom

(Image: Friends of the Conservatory)

(Image: Friends of the Conservatory)

A rarefied stench in the air? There is expected to be one any day now at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Visitors over the next few weeks may have the chance to experience a rare botanical occurrence through multiple senses as one of the corpse flowers now on display at the Conservatory is blossoming and shooting upwards. The plant is expected to bloom and release an odor that has been described as “a cross between rotting flesh and Limburger cheese” within the next two weeks.

Corpse flowers typically require seven to ten years of vegetative growth before blooming for the first time. This will be the first time the particular plant has bloomed since arriving in Capitol Hill in 2006, the Seattle PI reported, and the fist time any corpse flower has bloomed at the Conservatory since 2008, the Friends of the Conservatory group said.

Though CHS is not casting a prediction on precisely when the plant will bloom, the Conservatory’s “official spokescat” Ivan Von Katzen offered this forecast in a Facebook post Thursday:

Corpse Flower Watch: Our new buddy is on display at the Conservatory in the Bromeliad House and it grew an inch overnight! It now reaches 31″ and is growing fast! We anticipate the flower will be in full fragrant bloom within the next two weeks.Come take a look at this rare wonder Tuesday- Saturday [*Sunday] from 10:00 am – 3:00 PM – 1400 East Galer Street, Seattle WA — at Volunteer Park Conservatory.

Once the plant blooms, the supporting structure of its flowers, or the “spathe,” will likely only stay open for about 12 hours before starting to wilt, sources indicate, though some corpse flower spathes have been reported to stay open for one or two whole days.

Native to western Sumatra, the corpse flower is known as bunga bangkai (“corpse flower”) in Indonesian or by the Greek name Amorphophallus titanum, or more commonly titum arum. In addition to the particular odor it emits when blooming, the titum arum produces the largest non-branched “inflorescence,” or group of flowers, of any plant in the world. Friends of the Conservatory explains:

Once a blossom appears, the corpse flower grows rapidly and can reach a height of over 10-feet within the course of a few weeks.  It grows from a large tuber which can reach 150 pounds or more.

After its first bloom, the titum arum will typically bloom again after anywhere from another two to five years, to another seven to ten years, Friends of the Conservatory reported.

In addition to seeing one reaching bloom, you can also have a chance to win a 2-year-old titum arum of your own by coming up with a personal name for the blossoming corpse flower at the Conservatory. The “Name a Corpse Flower, Win a Corpse Flower” contest is on. Potential plant-namers can turn in their suggestions at the Conservatory, where entry forms are available at the gift shop, or via Twitter by sending their ideas to the spokescat — @Ivan_Von_Katzen.

The titum arum about to bloom at the Volunteer Park Conservatory was donated by the University of Washington Botany Greenhouse some eight years ago, the Seattle PI reported. It should soon be adding to a small pool of statistics: when a corpse flower bloomed at the conservatory in Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2013, only about 125 corpse flower blooms were said to have been documented worldwide since 1880.

The stench of corpse flower blooms do serve a purpose beyond generating sensational blog posts. The smell of rotting flesh emitted attracts insects such as the carrion-eating beetles and “flesh flies” that pollinate the plant in its natural habitats. Meanwhile, the flowers’ red color and their texture are said to add to the illusion that they are pieces of meat.

Something to chew on maybe if you make it to the Conservatory to check out the events now unfolding.

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

The CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 18,000 19,000 20,000 21,000 22,000 photographs — most of Capitol Hill images, many glorious, some technically amazing. The pool is a mix of contributions from Capitol Hill — and nearby — shutterbugs. Interested in being part of it? If we like your photo and it helps us tell the story, we may feature it on CHS so please include your name and/or a link to your website so we can properly credit you. Interested in working as a paid CHS contributor for scheduled assignments? Drop us a line – our roster is full for general assignments but pitch us on an idea.
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CHS Pics | Lummi totem pole journey to oppose coal trains makes Capitol Hill stop

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_9149The Lummi Nation brought specially carved totem poles to Capitol Hill’s St. Mark’s Friday for a morning of blessing and prayer on a journey “all along the rail line from the Bakken oil fields and Powder River Basin coal mines, through the Salish Sea and up into Canada’s tar sands.”

Coal export, oil trains, and the toxic byproducts of fossil fuels threaten many tribal lands across the Americas. The Lummi Nation House of Tears carvers are creating a totem pole to raise up the voice of all threatened by fossil fuel transportation. They are journeying with this totem pole across the western United States and Canada to connect with local tribes, faith leaders, and environmental partners. The Lummi ask for blessing and protection of sacred lands and treaty rights, including their own ancestral village and treaty fishing waters at Cherry Point, WA.

The Seattle stop on the nation’s second totem pole journey brought out dignitaries including King County Executive Dow Constantine who spoke to the mix of St. Mark’s worshippers, environmentalists, and tribal members on hand for the event at the 10th Ave E cathedral.

You can learn more about the journey and the Lummi effort to oppose coal exports at totempolejourney.com.

That yellow helicopter over Capitol Hill

A tour promo shot (Image: Seattle Helicopter Tours)

A tour promo shot (Image: Seattle Helicopter Tours)

How has this never come up before? Of all the helicopter reports and questions we get — and we get a lot! — we’ve never come across the mystery of the yellow helicopter over Capitol Hill.

Until now.

If you noticed a disturbingly low flying chopper visiting Capitol Hill Friday morning, don’t worry. It wasn’t a crime issue or TV news covering a building fire.

Seattle Helicopter Tours says it was busy providing a trip for some people involved with this weekend’s PAX at the Convention Center. The company offers tours of the city “starting as low as $90.83.” Apparently, it’s a bigger deal in Ballard. We asked if we might see more flights today with the PAX marketing folks going full tilt but the representative told us she couldn’t say.

Capitol Hill newspaper publisher still making its bucks off mortgage meltdown

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.22.46 AMIt has been nearly three years since Bellevue-based RIM Publications and its parent company Northwest Trustee Services took over the remains of the weekly newspaper that covered Capitol Hill for decades and earned years of goodwill from the Hillers who remember their paper delivery routes and the nostalgia of simpler times. At the time, we called Northwest Trustee Services and RIM “a company built on the back of our region’s manifestations of the mortgage crisis.”

So, what are the people behind today’s Capitol Hill Times up to lately? Here is a recent piece posted by the Madison Park Times, another old-timey paper still making a go of it in the internet era:

This is how foreclosed Seattle homes are auctioned: in an underground parking garage setting more befitting drug deals. Northwest Trustee Services (NTS), which operates in eight Western states, handles 60 to 70 percent of all foreclosed homes in King County. Six years after the housing bubble burst, NTS still auctions 50 to 70 homes a month from Seattle alone.

Its building also houses Routh Crabtree Olsen, a legal firm that operates in the same eight states and represents both NTS and the banks that have seized the homes NTS auctions.

It’s a cozy, well-oiled machine for processing properties that, protesters allege, often have the same history of predatory practices and dubious paper trails that led to the 2008 bubble in the first place.

Full disclosure: The Madison Park paper is published by Pacific Publishing Co., the folks who sold off the Capitol Hill Times.

As the foreclosure business remains a profitable industry even with the late-payment rate in the nation dropping, some experts are predicting the country’s mortgage crisis is about to flare up again as “temporary relief measures and legacy issues from the crisis” come to a head in 2015. Expect a meatier free weekly in the future as the local foreclosure listings thicken up.

Capitol Hill gay bar R Place turns 30

(Images: Rayna Stackhouse for CHS)

(Images: Rayna Stackhouse for CHS)

_DSC0826R Place celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and, despite repeated concerns about the end of the Capitol Hill “gayborhood,”  business is better than ever.

“Seattle is just more gay popular and gay friendly. What used to be just a gay bar is not just a gay bar anymore,” said manager Floyd Lovelady.

Though the number of gay bars and clubs on the Hill has diminished, more people feel welcome at R Place, a “gay bar that is straight friendly,” Lovelady said. Continue reading

You can buy Capitol Hill’s Chop Suey for $99,950

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A peek inside from the Chop Suey real estate listing

A peek inside from the Chop Suey real estate listing

Everything is for sale. Just ask Broadway’s Charlie’s. The restaurant’s owner Ken Bauer has listed the Capitol Hill classic for years.

On Thursday, Seattle’s only music writer David Segal posted about the peculiar real estate listings involving 14th and Madison rock club Chop Suey and got some intel from longtime neighborhood booker Jodi Ecklund.

“The most recent development is that the price was significantly dropped from the original asking price. The issue is the rent on the building is 13k; even with a thriving club like Chop Suey, that is not sustainable. I have heard there are some interested parties and I have been contacted by a few folks for more insight. My number one concern is that if Chop Suey is purchased, I hope it is by someone who values the local music scene.

If you’re wondering, Dave Meinert tells us he’s not interested in owning “a live music venue.” We’ll let you parse that statement.

Team Dresch on the Suey stage in 2013 (Image: CHS)

Team Dresch on the Suey stage in 2013 (Image: CHS)

To be clear, Chop Suey is for sale.

Not the 1325 E Madison building across the street from the former Piecora’s where a six-story development is planned. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Hopvine Tennis Tournament — game, set, match for Capitol Hill’s hottest summer in 47 years

IMG_8927IMG_8796Seattle Summer is over. The annual Hopvine Tennis Tournament has come and gone. Wednesday night, hipsters and secret tennis champs trying to look like didn’t care that much about winning gathered for the 13th annual tournament sponsored by the 15th Ave E pub. We don’t know who won this year but you can tell the winners for yourself just by the pictures — definitely some winning fashion on display.

In the meantime, a brilliant Seattle summer fades. Try not to think too much about global warming.

There will still be a few summer-y bursts here and there. The East Precinct is sponsoring free hot dogs and its annual picnic this weekend — this year in Cal Anderson Park. Later in September, the Faerie Festival returns to Volunteer Park. But, yeah, as far as summer 2014 goes, it’s pretty much game, set, match. We hope you enjoyed it.

More pictures of the hardcore Volunteer Park tennis action, below. Continue reading

Pretty Parlor shop kitty injured in dog attack

Pretty kitty (Image: Pretty Parlor)

Pretty kitty (Image: Pretty Parlor)

Vincent the Pretty Parlor cat is a familiar character for many on Capitol Hill. Earlier this week, the shop cat suffered a brutal attack that left him in need of expensive surgery and medical care.

He’s in surgery Thursday afternoon. Shop owner and Vincent pal Anna Banana Lange has set up an online account if you’d like to pitch in to help cover the bills. Here’s part of a message she posted Wednesday night:

His chance of surviving the night is 80/20, which is good, considering all the fluids in his lungs. We are meeting with the surgeon tomorrow morning to determine our route for his compound leg fracture. This is the reason for doubling our goal. Surgery is expected to cost between $4000-$6000, an added cost to the original $3000 as estimated.

Banana also writes that she is close to being able to identify the dog and owner responsible for the Wednesday morning attack outside the shop.

CHS last visited the 119 Summit Ave E store earlier this summer as Banana expanded to add a Capitol Hill-styled bridal boutique.

If you’d like to help, you can learn more and give at gofundme.com.

Capitol Hill wine shop Essence shutters — UPDATE

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(Image: Essence Wine)

(Images: Essence Wine)

Retailers looking for a berth on Capitol Hill will find some open space in the 400 block of E Pine. Funky and unpredictable bottle shop Essence Wine quietly closed earlier this month.

Here’s the Facebook goodbye:

Thank you all for so many beautiful times. We are closing the shop that hosted dance, music, people, laughter, arguments, discussion, ruckus, urbanity, and you. Thank you so much for being a part, thank you so much for being a part! The beauty of the essence will happen again, in different places and in so many ways. Thank you for having carried and carrying it on

The now empty shop makes two neighboring E Pine retail spaces looking for tenants. Earlier this summer, Gamma Ray Games announced it was consolidating up the Hill in a new space combined with its Raygun Lounge.

Co-owners Zach Weissman and Winston Xu opened Essence in late 2012shaped as an artesian cave, a cave of stacked wine boxes with bottled wine atop.” The business also had a — how should we say it? — creative approach to business. Not taking things too seriously seems to be part of the lifeblood of running a Capitol Hill wine business — stop by still-standing European Vine Selections for a taste as it’s kept things running for more than 25 years on the Hill.

Essence even managed to have some good fun at the expense of local media — CHS was thoroughly punk’d by this strange episode in early 2013. At the time, Xu apologized and told us he too had been tricked by the announcement and that Weissman had “no authority” to speak for the shop. It was a strange moment for the business but, until the end, both Xu and Weissman remained with Essence, according to corporate filings.

By email, Xu declined to comment on the closure telling us things still needed to get wrapped up with the landlord.

UPDATE: Xu tells us things are wrapped up with the landlord and a new art supply store is reportedly moving in:

The reason behind our closure was complicated, but mostly because I am finding myself not able to make enough spare time to manage the shop as much as it needed to be, Zach, my partner did a wonderful job and had been the primary manager Essence over the past two years, now he is off to another great job opportunity and I am swapped with my primary job and other businesses, so we have decided to close the business.

12th Ave community group votes for apartment development over city ‘pocket park’

Reverb-Spectrum-11th-And-AlderIn response to a condemnation order placed on a site owned by real estate firm Spectrum Development Solutions at 11th and Alder in order to build a new pocket park, the 12th Avenue Stewards community group has voted unanimously to rescind the order and allow the construction project to continue rather than begin design on a new public space.

Following the vote, Mayor Ed Murray officially withdrew the proposed condemnation order, representatives tell CHS.

“This issue is something that has been difficult for the group,” said Bill Zosel, vice-chair of the 12th Avenue Stewards told CHS in a statement on the vote. Continue reading