Friday, Dan Streissguth will celebrate the best decision he has ever made. You can be there to celebrate with him.
May 6th, the Streissguth Gardens will mark 20 years of public ownership just off Broadway E, just north of the Blaine Street Steps. From streissguthgardens.com:
Join us on National Public Garden Day, May 6th, 2016 From 1-4pm we’ll be celebrating with punch and cookies, a look back in time through the garden, some historical documents about the garden, new brochures, and a new sign. The private garden will be open for self tours. At around 2pm we’ll gather for some informal words.
In 1996, the family of Dan and Anne Streissguth gifted an acre of carefully cultivated hillside to the City of Seattle. Meanwhile, the City also purchased a larger tract of greenbelt to the south. With the Streissguth’s maintaining two adjacent private gardens and continuing work from to clear the greenbelt property of invasive ivy to make way for more than 600 native plantings, the area is an oasis on the northwestern edge of Capitol Hill.
Dan Streissguth tells CHS the decision to give away a portion of the family land was the best decision he has ever made.
“It’s the focus for our lives,” Streissguth said. “One of the main things for our son also. Over the years, he’s become very involved in the public garden so it’s become a main feature of his life, as well.”
“We were beautifying the neglected area of stairs and people started using it as exercise corridor and walkway,” Dan and Anne’s son Ben Streissguth told CHS in 2010. “They complimented us how nice it looked and would check in on its progress. We realized then that part of what we were doing was encouraging people to come into the space, that we wanted to make it a community space.”
Leading up to the transfer of the land to the city, the wild brush and overgrowth surrounding the Streissguth land was in danger of becoming a new multi-family development and parking lot. The city issued a parks bond in 1989 and was able to purchase threatened land, focusing their attention on the area near St. Mark’s Greenbelt. The Streissguths donated two lots to the city and, including southern lots the city purchased from the developer, created a large space for an open park. The city purchased the land from the developer and set up the contract with the Streissguths, all of which finalized in 1996.
Friday’s event will be a simple event involving some punch and cookies and neighbors. You can tour the gardens and meet the Streissguths. Some of the newest changes include a new shared vegetable garden utilized by the Streissguth family and a few green-thumbed neighbors. Dan said a bequest from a former neighbor also helped pay for extending the automatic watering system to cover most of the gardens.
Dan said much of the work he and Anne spend the most time on now involves preparing the gardens for a future without them. Giving to the Streissguth Gardens Fund is one way for you to help ensure the economic future of the green space.