Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Arboretum to remove 34 mature trees as prelude to constructing the “Gateway to Chile”

Described by the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department as “the first major new exhibit in the Arboretum in almost 50 years,” The Pacific Connections Garden is an ambitious 14-acre project that will eventually feature five eco-geographic “immersion” forests within Washington Park: one each for Australia, New Zealand, China, “Cascadia” and Chile.
Located at the south end of the Arboretum, the Garden is about to enter Phase II, with construction to begin late this spring on the “Gateway to Chile” section. A significant number of existing trees will be removed in order to make way for the 72 Chilean trees that will be part of the new garden, located on the east side of Lake Washington Boulevard E., just inside the entrance to the Park.

This construction phase also includes the restoration of an existing park feature, the Holmdahl Rockery, which has become overgrown.

The Japanese Garden was the last major new exhibit to grace the Arboretum, so The Pacific Connections Garden, which is a large component of the Park’s twenty-year master plan, is much anticipated. It’s purely coincidental that the Chilean garden will be developed in the wake of the massive earthquake which recently hit our South American neighbor. As the Parks Department notes, the timing of the tragedy “imbues the project with special meaning to Seattle as we respond with the rest of the world to the crisis.”

Funding for the project comes from both public and private sources. The Arboretum Foundation contributed $290,000 toward the $450,000 construction cost, with additional funding provided by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy.

“Gateway to Chile” will display Chilean species such as Fuchsia magellanica, Chilean Fire Bush, and Pilgerodendron uviferum, a tree that can grow to be 500 years old--or so we are told. The Arboretum is inviting those interested in learning more about the project to tour the site tomorrow, Wednesday, March 10 at 5:30 pm (meet at the south end of the parking lot of the Washington Park playfield, 2500 Lake Washington Boulevard E.). There will be an additional opportunity to hear about plans for the project at a public meeting next Tuesday, March 16, at 6:30 pm in the Graham Visitor Center. More information about the project can be found here.
[Illustrations provided by the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and the Arboretum. Map by the PI. Upper illustration by Mike Kowalski, courtesy of The Berger Partnership. Lower illustration courtesy of The Berger Partnership.]

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