It Snowed!

While the rest of the country was suffering through devastating winter storms, Seattle’s temperatures were in the high 40’s and low 50’s. It felt like spring. Many of the plants were beginning to bud; some of the leaf buds had even opened.

Last night I was watching the Super Bowl at Al’s. Soon after I arrived, it began to snow. I stayed for the first three quarters but was very distracted. During the 4th quarter, I decided it was time for me to go home.

I don’t like to drive in the snow, plus I live on the side of a hill. It doesn’t take much to make my car slide and I hate that feeling. I have avoided driving in the snow since the year I slid down a steep hill near my house sideways, with a station wagon right behind me. That incident was probably in the late 70’s or early 80’s.

Last night, I made it home without incident. It was not snowing when I went to bed, but it snowed more during the night. This was the scene from inside my warm house this morning.

from the dining room
from the bathroom

Later in the day, I decided to walk to the end of my property and take some photos of the Greenbelt.

The snow is really beautiful but I hope it goes away soon… and doesn’t damage all the new buds.

Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: February 26, 2018 Planting Day

Monday, February 26 was an exciting day. On that day, 31 enthusiastic employees from Silver Creek Capital Management came to plant trees, shrubs and ground covers in our Greenbelt site. Our staff consisted of Nicole from Forterra, Claire a master gardener, and two Green Seattle Partnership Forest Stewards- Peter from Mt. Baker Park and me. Claire and I also belong to GreenFriends, the environmental arm of Embracing the World.

During the three-hour work party, we planted 17 trees, 75 shrubs and 77 ground covers! Every new plant is native to the Pacific Northwest. We spread two buckets of wood chip mulch around each plant to reduce weed growth and retain water. (The burlap we place on the ground after removing blackberries and ivy from the land also helps with weed reduction and water retention). At future work parties we will be covering any exposed burlap in the planting areas with wood chips.

(Click on the gallery above to enlarge the photos.)

Towards the end of the event, part of Nicole’s team cleared more land. They dug up some huge blackberry root balls.

A few days later I weighed the biggest one. It weighed almost 10 pounds!

When the work party was over, we cleaned and put away the tools and celebrated all we had done. I think everyone had enjoyed their experience.

Later, I took another look at what we had accomplished. Once again, I was awed by how much the land had been transformed by a single work party.

Photos by Laurel Webb, Nicole Marcotte and Karuna Poole


Were They Once Beloved Toys?

Yesterday, when I found these toys in the rubble of the house foundation that was recently unearthed in the Greenbelt, I got teary. Who were the children who had lost these toys? Had they cried when they realized they were missing? Were they once beloved toys?

Then I became puzzled. When I moved into this neighborhood in 1973, I had been told that there once had been a house in the lot behind mine; one that had burned in the 50’s. Even though this foundation is not directly behind my house, I have assumed it is the house that I was once told about. These toys had not burned, so had the house not burned either? If not, what had destroyed it?

The foundation has probably been covered by blackberry vines since sometime in the 60’s. Did the toys show up on the lot after that time? Had they been thrown over the embankment by inhabitants of the home above it? No one on this neighborhood even knew the house existed, so I will probably never know the answers to these questions.

I brought the stuffed animals and doll into my house and cleaned them to the best of my ability. The transformation was remarkable!

Tomorrow, we will be holding another work party in the Greenbelt. Twenty students from an Environmental Science class at the University of Washington have signed up to participate. I wonder what we will find as we continue our endeavor to return this piece of land to the beautiful forest it once was.



Bridge 2 Beach Earth Day: April 30

Since September of 2016, our local GreenFriends group has been working to restore a four-lot strip of Seattle’s Greenbelt to the healthy forest it was meant to be. In October of 2016, we linked our project to the Green Seattle Partnership, a collaborative group that includes the City of Seattle Parks Department, Forest Stewards, and many other nonprofit organizations, all of whom are dedicated to restoring Seattle’s 2,500 acres of forested parks.

This strip of Greenbelt has been covered by blackberry vines and ivy for 30-50 years. When the City of Seattle staff cut down the blackberry vines in March of 2017, they discovered the foundation of a house. We believe that house burned down in the 50’s. With blackberry vines that at times reached nine-feet in height growing over and around it, no one in the neighborhood even knew the foundation was there. We decided to focus on that area during the April 30 work party.

Our work party group standing behind some of the items we found in the dirt.

This particular work party was held in honor of Bridge 2 Beach Earth Day, an annual event focused on making “Mother Earth more beautiful and [Seattle] neighborhoods sparkle.” This year the Rainier Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of the event, invited the Green Seattle Partnership to join in the effort.

Our work party began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 1 p.m. Seven GreenFriends, two Forest Stewards from the Green Seattle Partnership, a neighbor, and six students from a University of Washington Environmental Science class participated.

Our tools were provided by the Green Seattle Partnership

Our primary task for the day was to remove blackberry root balls and put them on racks made from fallen tree branches. That way, the roots cannot touch the ground and will dry out. The photo below shows one of the three root ball piles that we created that day. [Some of the root balls you see in the photo were touching the ground, so were moved to the top of the pile at a later time.]

In the process of clearing the root balls, we found many objects in the dirt. This was probably the first time these items had been exposed to the light of day since sometime in the 60’s

We even found a foot-long worm!

We have discovered many interesting things since we began the project. This may be my favorite one. I wonder how old it is.

Once the root balls are removed, we cover the cleared land with burlap bags to reduce weed growth. Then dried blackberry canes and other debris are placed on top of the burlap. In time, the bags and debris will turn into mulch which will hold in moisture and enrich the soil.

Below are some “before and after” photos from our three-hour work party.

It was such a fun, productive and rewarding day. We accomplished more than I ever thought possible. When I reported the students’ hours to their professor, he told me he was sure there would be plenty of interest if I wanted to schedule another work party. I decided to offer one on Saturday May 13. The professor sent a notice to the students at 7:30 p.m. and when I checked the next morning, the event was full! I look forward to whatever we experience and discover that day.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense

Ivy is killing many of the trees in Seattle’s Greenbelt. On the four lots that our GreenFriends group has been working to restore, there is one tree that is so covered with ivy that you can’t see any other part of it.

One day in April, city workers came to cut down blackberry vines on the lots. They also dealt with the ivy on this tree.

That is done by cutting the ivy at shoulder height and at the bottom of the tree. This is called a survival ring. The ivy on the rest of the tree is left to die off since pulling it down would be near impossible and could be dangerous.

The ivy had formed a hard, dense cover around the tree. The workers were able to pull off a section of it. (Click on the galleries to see a bigger view of the photos.)

The “crust” was so dense and had many components.

I look forward to looking at this section of ivy under my microscope.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense