It’s only fitting that the Emerald City should be home to more than 400 parks. And that doesn’t even count the nearly 150 “pocket parks” that are tucked into street ends, often giving a glimpse of the city’s lakes or the Puget Sound.
Seattle has parks and green spaces for all tastes. Moms with strollers seem magnetically drawn to the paved trail ringing Green Lake for its easy walk and great views. Parks including Seward and Discovery have miles of forested trails and some super tall trees that provide a verdant escape from the traffic and bustle of the city. Or check out the rainbow-hued rose garden at Woodland Park. Not only is it one of a handful of the American Rose Test Gardens (which basically means they try to grow fancy new varieties), but the whole place recently went pesticide free.
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- Kubota Garden: A Japanese-inspired park with a weeping Douglas fir, steppingstones that send visitors hopping across tranquil pools, and a steeply-sloped Moon Bridge that embodies the challenge of living a good life: “Hard to walk up, and hard to walk down.”
- Carkeek Park: My favorite neighborhood park, Carkeek has miles of trails that wind through woods up to bluffs overlooking the Sound, as well as along salmon-bearing creeks.
- Washington Park Arboretum: The arboretum last year opened a new 12 acre exhibit called the Pacific Connections Garden that features the vegetation of ecosystems from around the Pacific Rim, including Chile, China, New Zealand, Australia, and our own Cascadia.
But all of this green loveliness has been hard fought to acquire and maintain.
A community group called Friends of Street Ends has worked year after year to pry pocket parks from neighbors who sometimes have absorbed the public land into their own property.
The city of Seattle along with volunteers and nonprofit groups teamed up to form the Green Seattle Partnership to wage a war on invasive species that threaten to overrun and destroy native firs and maples, turning forested parks into deserts of ivy.
And community activists have struggled to pass parks levies, including the levy approved last November that allowed a property tax increase for more parks spending.
Kids at Kubota Garden photo courtesy of Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archivesunder the license.