Take an Earth Day tour with city’s new Seattle Tree Walks app

Visit a Capitol Hill favorite — this huge the London plane in the traffic triangle at the intersection of Belmont, Summit, and Bellevue Pl — to mark Earth Day (Image: CHS)

“We tried to make something that would mimic the actions of the Douglas fir forest that once was on our site—something that would get all of its energy from the sun, all of its water from the rain, and not produce anything toxic,” Denis Hayes, Earth Day founder and father of 15th and Madison’s “living building” The Bullitt Center said in a recent interview.

That fir forest is long gone but a new effort from the city makes enjoying Seattle’s modern urban forest even easier. Trees for Seattle program manager (and CHS reader!) Kym Foley sent over this announcement of the new Seattle Tree Walks app: Continue reading

Pikes/Pines | For Capitol Hill trees, beauty is being comfortable and confident in your own bark

Ponderosa Pine bark (Image: Brendan McGarry)

Dry winds brought down the leaves. Rain is currently making them slick hazards as we walk under an increasingly bare canopy on Capitol Hill. We enter a time of year when you can look up and fully appreciate the magnificent spread of a massive oak and the bright papery bark of a silver birch. I particularly enjoy this opportunity to engage with the barks of plants in winter, both because they pose interesting points about survival, and because they are simply artistically captivating, (especially without those gaudy distractions, leaves).

While it’s likely we all know this, it’s worth saying: Bark exists to protect woody plants, which grow year after year, from harm. Trees, shrubs, and some vines grow bark as a shield from fire, insects, and fungi as well as from freezing temperatures or moisture loss. When that delivery truck mangles the bark of an ash tree on Broadway, it opens up the tree to potential pathogens, gives it less protection from freezing weather, and can even stop it from transferring nutrients if badly damaged. Trees, our main focus here, need bark like we need our skin. Continue reading

Pikes/Pines | The trash trees of Capitol Hill

A canopy of red alders in winter. (Image: Brendan McGarry)

A friend of mine calls alders “trash trees.” He is an arborist, and as a pragmatic person who maintenances trees to fit into the grid, alders aren’t “good” trees. They are fairly weak, short lived, are rot prone, and pop up unwanted. They are also native, and as a result host loads of other species, and possesses a subtle seasonal variability I find a beautiful part of our landscape.

These differences of opinion are well reflected in the blocked up properties of dense, urban Capitol Hill. Based on my observations, some people care dearly about managing every last inch of space, others are willing to let things go wild, and some seem entirely oblivious to the world outside their indoor spaces. (Landscaping is also a privileged act, not simply about “caring” or “not caring”). I wonder how the red alder, Alnus rubra, the common and unassuming tree, fits into our world on the Hill?

There are certainly plenty of alder trees growing around Capitol Hill. They are in the Arboretum, in St. Mark’s  Greenbelt, in Interlaken Park. However, few yards appear to purposefully invite red alders into their limited spaces. Why is this? Continue reading

After more than 140 years of burials, Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery needs a new wall

Lake View still has room (Images: CHS)

Last week, CHS reported on Recompose, the Capitol Hill-birthed startup dedicated to rethinking what happens to our bodies after we die. As if Lake View Cemetery needed something else to worry about, the 147-year-old burial grounds are also in need of some costly repair.

The City of Seattle is reviewing a $1.5 million plan to replace the Capitol Hill cemetery’s dilapidated western retaining wall according to permit documents filed by the nonprofit association that runs the private grounds just north of Volunteer Park. Continue reading

‘Tree-point system’ — In quest to stay leafy, Seattle looks at new canopy protection rules


Seattle homeowners could need a permit to remove some trees from their property and developers would need to follow a “tree-point system” to determine how many trees would need to be planted when there is new construction under a new set of tree preservation regulations being considered at City Hall.

The city’s current tree preservation regulations were developed in 2009, but were considered at the time to be interim rules, said Yolanda Ho, of the city council staff during a May meeting of the council’s Planning Land Use and Zoning Committee.

A set of draft regulations was then developed in 2012, but it didn’t end up going anywhere. Now, the council is trying again to develop a set of rules that could help the Emerald City reach is goal of 30% tree cover. Continue reading

E Pike tree pits are getting filled over with ‘porous pavement’

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What the new permeable pits will look like. (Image: SDOT)

Poor sidewalk tree pits. The tiny patches of dirt that give rise to Pike/Pine’s tree-lined blocks are often ignored receptacles of urban waste until cursed at for tripping up hurried pedestrians.

Now some of those Pike/Pine dirt patches are getting an upgrade. The Seattle Department of Transportation has started installing “flexible porous pavement” over 19 tree pits along E Pike between Broadway and 12th Ave. The goal of the project is to improve pedestrian safety by smoothing over the sidewalk surface while offering greater protection to E Pike’s trees. SDOT promises no trees will be harmed in the installation.

An SDOT flyer about the project says, “this innovative solution is one of several efforts to expand our use of these new materials as an alternative to traditional mulches and tree grates.” The permeable pavement also requires significantly less maintenance work.Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.40.38 AM

All sidewalks will remain open during the project. Contractors may take up a few parking spots during the installation, which is expected to wrap-up May 6th. The project is one of the many funded by the $930 million Move Seattle levy, approved by voters last year. CHS previously looked at some of the other levy-powered Council District 3 projects.

Even with healthier reinforced bases, many urban trees will be chopped down before their time. In 2014, Broadway’s big, old tree had to go after it began leaning too far over the sidewalk. A potentially “exceptional” red cedar is also on track to come down to make way for a new development at 19th and Mercer.

RIP, Cal Anderson bigleaf maple

"Wind storm knocks over tree on Capitol Hill Cal Anderson Park, Man stripped bare and climbs." (Image: @timdurkan via Twitter)

“Wind storm knocks over tree on Capitol Hill Cal Anderson Park, Man stripped bare and climbs.” (Image: @timdurkan via Twitter)

Damaged on a windy night in October 2014, the bigleaf maple standing on the southwest corner of Cal Anderson Park was taken down and hauled away by a work crew this week.

Seattle Parks tells CHS the tree’s health had been declining for several years and had “a large lead over the sidewalk that was decayed and cracking.” The Parks Arboriculturist said the decay was in the main trunk as well as major dead branches in the canopy. Continue reading

RIP, Cal Anderson wading pool plum tree

Tree split and downed probably by pre-dawn lightening

A casualty of recent storms bringing wet soil and wind, the old plum tree that shaded the area around the Cal Anderson wading pool near the park’s pumphouse was cut up to be hauled away this week.

A parks department arborist confirmed the storm-related death Tuesday. No, the old tree wasn’t struck by lightning though that would have been a cool way to go out.

Instead, the plum’s roots lost their grip in Cal Anderson’t soggy soil. There are currently no plans to replace the tree — especially as Seattle Parks looks at trimming the greenspace’s foliage further back and considers a $780,000 lighting plan to improve safety in the park.

CHS Pics | Goodbye crooked tree of Broadway

(Image:  Jim Simandl for CHS)

(Image: Jim Simandl for CHS)

IMG_1523The big ol’ leaning tree of Broadway is gone. Here are images from Saturday as a work crew removed the more than 30-year-old Raywood ash with what the city arborist called a n increasingly concerning lean. The pictures are a bit of a bummer — our contributors couldn’t bear to show you the now empty spot where the old tree stood. You might prefer to remember it this way. A Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson tells CHS a new tree will be planted in its place. It might even be another Raywood, we’re told. More goodbye images, below.