Editor’s note: Want to experience Seattle’s parks for yourself? Sign up for our daily or weekly emails before October 28, 2009 and be entered to win a two-night trip for two to Seattle. Sign up here.
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.
Find this article interesting? Support more research like this with a gift!
- 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 Creative Commons license.
In addition, Seattle Parks Dept has some exemplary green buildings, including Carkeek Environmental Learning Center (LEED Gold), Yesler Community Center (LEED Gold), Northgate Community Center (LEED Silver and Seattle’s largest rainwater harvest system), High Point Community Center (LEED certified), solar PV panels at Bradner Garden and Carkeek, and the list goes on …
Richard—You read our minds. Keep an eye out for a post on that in the new couple weeks! You’ll note our current sweepstakes is offering two nights at Hyatt’s new LEED Silver hotel, Olive 8. Thanks for reading!
Leo N. Egashira
Nice article. Kubota Garden is one of my very favorite spots in Seattle: It’s beautiful spring, summer, fall and even in winter. However, there is no such thing as a “weeping Douglas Fir.” There are weeping spruce and weeping Atlas Cedar—the impressive, blue-gray, horizontal plantings that elicit most of the comments.
For clarification, regarding the weeping Doug fir, I took a tour of the park with a long-time docent and the Parks Department manager of Kubota Garden and that’s what one of them identified it as.
Hi Lisa, Thanks for highlighting the new Pacific Connections Garden at the Arboretum. I just wanted to clarify that it is a long-term, multiphase project. The first phase of it, including a central meadow bordered by five small entry gardens was completed and opened last year. The final, 14-acre installation will take about another five years or so to complete.Niall Dunne (Arboretum Foundation)