I’ve had a lot of “Oh No” experiences lately; ones that relate to the new Greenbelt site we’ve agreed to help with. Our main site is south of the stairs that begin at the intersection of 25th Avenue S and S Hanford Street in Seattle. About three years ago, the Department of Transportation built a second set of Hanford Stairs across Cheasty Boulevard. They are lower on the side of Beacon Hill than our main site. There is Greenbelt property on both sides of the lower stairs.
When those stairs were built, the Department of Transportation planted native shrubs on both sides of the stairs and then covered the area with wood chips. It was beautiful. However, no one maintained the property and over time the land, including the new plants, became covered with bindweed vines. There were some blackberry vines too, but in that area the bindweed ruled. In fact, the bindweed completely covered most of the shrubs. Sometimes, there was no way to know there was even a shrub there; they just looked like mounds of bindweed.
Below are some photos of bindweed vines I took on our site two years ago. They show how bindweed strangles shrubs and ground covers.
One day in April, a Green Seattle Partnership staff member asked us to remove the bindweed from that area, if possible, meaning if we had time. We worked on it for the first time, on April 29. The photos below show what it looked like at that time. Seeing it when preparing for the work party was probably my first “Oh No” experience in this series. We removed bucket after bucket of bindweed that afternoon.
Our main site has a lot of bindweed, but it looks small in comparison to what is in this area. I’ve read that bindweed can go 32 feet into the earth. It is very fragile so breaks off easily so I had had no illusion that we could completely get rid of it. But we had at least started the process of reducing it.
When I checked the site three weeks later, I could barely tell we had worked there before. “Oh No.” We cleared bindweed from that area again on May 20. Afterwards, we covered the area where we had “removed” the bindweed with wood chips. Even though we weren’t able to clear the whole area, the part we had “finished” looked beautiful.
On June 27, I went back to the site to take a look. The first thing I noticed was how much bindweed had returned. “Oh No.” The second thing I noticed was that two thirds of the way down the stairs someone had dumped a couch, chairs and other garbage. “Oh No.” How had the dumpers even gotten this stuff down there?
Seattle has a Find It, Fix It app that residents can use to report problems that they want the city workers to fix. I reported the dump. As I was filling out the report on my phone, I noticed that there was new graffiti on the area where I was standing. “Oh No.” Once I completed the illegal dump report, I filed a graffiti report.
On July 1, I walked down the stairs to take some photos of the bindweed. I felt discouraged to see that the shrub near the phone pole was completely covered again. In fact, bindweed was coming up everywhere. “Oh No.” I was, however, pleased to see that the furniture and other items that had been dumped were already gone. That was fast!
On July 3, I walked down the stairs on my way to pick up my car from an auto repair shop. I noticed that the bindweed had continued to grow in the last few days. I also took a closer look at areas we hadn’t cleared yet. “Oh No.” When I saw my photo I was sorry to see that my finger had gotten in the way and showed up in the photo. “Oh No.” Luckily the picture still showed what I wanted it to show.
Then, I saw that more items had been dumped not far from the bottom of the stairs . “Oh No”. I couldn’t even tell what the stuff was. I could only see that they were big. This time the dump was in an area we hadn’t worked on before; one that is filled with blackberry vines as well as bindweed. Once again, I reported the dump through the Find It, Fix It app.
In writing this post, I can see from the photos that even though there is still lots of bindweed coming up in the areas we have cleared before, there is far less of it than when we started on April 29. And we kept it from flowering. The flowers would have caused it to spread even more. We are making a difference, one step at a time.
Our plans are for the 30 people who have registered for the July 7 work party to work in that area for the last part of the event. In the past, we have only worked there with five or six people. I look forward to discovering how much we accomplish at that time.
9 thoughts on ““Oh No”s”
enjoyed reading the latest – what a battle with the ongoing bindweed and dumpersjust wanted to appreciate also the aerial map of the area – floored me to see Kimball Elem. That site was my first job with Seattle School District back in the ’70’s. I’d come at it from Madrona and Empire Way (then) south. I’d identified Beacon Hill by the big hospital at the top – your neighborhood and all the rest of this is falling into place for me mentally/visually after all these years…thanks!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes, I live one block from Kimball Elementary. Both of my kids went there. I had no idea you used to work at Kimball! I also didn’t realize you were living in Seattle that long ago. I moved to Beacon Hill in 1973.
oh goodness – moved there in 1965 straight out of the Air Force living in a rental in Seward Park then buying in Renton. Twin sons born in ’66 at Providence hospital. Moved to Madrona in ’73 and worked for Seattle School District for next 11 years, beginning with Kimball. Wow. Small world and all that….
LikeLiked by 1 person
I moved to Seattle in 1966 to go to college. Moved to Oakland for one year in 1970. Married Al in 71 and moved back to Seattle. Sreejit was born at Providence Hospital in 74. My first job as a nurse in Seattle West at Providence Hospital. In labor and delivery.
It requires persistence to do what you are doing. So glad you are up for it!
LikeLiked by 1 person
You are a dedicated and oh so patient Earth Steward! I’m patient today too as it took me awhile to reset my password so I could write this again for the fourth time! Anyway, I read that boiling water kills bindweed, and it’s either that or persistent snipping at the ground level to get rid of it….oof! Aum Amriteshwaryai Namah!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Interesting. It’s hard to imagine that hot water, boiling water, could kill anything that potentially goes 32 feet down!