Each year, the Green Seattle Partnership sponsors a Green Seattle Day. On that day, work parties are held in parklands all over Seattle. Sarva and I decided to volunteer as team leaders at Cheasty Mt. View Park. Several other GreenFriends members and their friends joined us.
The number of people who registered for the work party amazed me. There were seven in our GreenFriends contingent, but 126 volunteers in the whole group.
One of the leaders encouraged the participants to plant from a place of gratitude. She suggested that the volunteers name their trees … and that they talk to the trees as they put them into the earth. As I wandered through our section, helping people with the planting, I heard many participants doing that.
After some of our GreenFriends group planted this tree, they decided to give it a kiss.
The 126 volunteers planted 800 trees, shrubs and ground covers during the first hour of the work party.
We spent the rest of the work party removing invasive blackberry and ivy vines. Again, it was phenomenal to witness how much can be accomplished in a short period of time.
We put vines we cut onto drying racks so that they don’t touch the ground and re-root. There were several drying racks in the area where we were working but they were soon full. Before long there were big piles of cuttings around the site.
Some of the volunteers built a new drying rack and then we moved the piles of cuttings to the new rack.
drying rack for invasive cuttings
loading the drying rack
Before long, the three-hour work party was over and we prepared to leave.
What a wonderful morning it had been. The work party was such a good example of the adage “Many hands make light work.”
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.
Newly planted field
Photos by Laurel Webb, Nicole Marcotte and Karuna Poole
For many years, Amma has been encouraging us to plant trees as a way of healing the Earth. This year, devotees in the Pacific Northwest decided to honor Amma’s 64th birthday by planting trees. We asked everyone to let us know how many trees they would plant and to complete the planting by November 5th. We were hoping at least 64 trees would be pledged. At the time I am writing this post, the pledge count is up to 211!
Seattle Parks Department gave us 37 trees to plant in our Greenbelt site. That work party was held last Sunday, October 22nd. Thirty-two GreenFriends members participated. Many of them had never seen the site before and others hadn’t been there for a long time. I enjoyed seeing and hearing their reactions to the work we’ve done over the last year.
The work party began with an orientation to the site…
and then Pujarini Meera conducted a series of rituals asking Mother Earth for permission to plant the trees and to nurture and protect them after they are planted. I thought it was a beautiful ceremony. (Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.)
After the rituals were over, Ananya and I gave planting instructions…
and then came the fun of planting the trees.
Amma’s birthday project will be over on November 5, but our work in the restoring this Greenbelt site will, of course, continue. We will finish preparing nine planting areas at a work party on November 11 and then will plant 360 shrubs in those areas on November 15!
I used to have repetitive dreams of being in a house that had a lot of secret rooms. When I walked down one hallway, I would inevitably discover a new hallway that led to rooms I hadn’t seen before. The house went on and on and provided me with a never ending adventure.
That is what it has been like for me to work in the Greenbelt. I enter one area after another that is covered by blackberry vines, ivy and bamboo. I never know what I will find on the other side of them.
One day my adventure started here.
As I cleared a path, I saw many downed trees.
Soon, I came across this tree. It looked as if a maple tree that had fallen had birthed a new tree.
I discovered that another part of the tree had traveled north and it too had become a maple tree.
Other parts of the tree had traveled to the west and to the south. There was a new tree at the end of the western portion. I haven’t reached the end of the southern part yet so I don’t know what I will find there.
It is mind-boggling to me that a tree which has been so beaten down by the environment has such a strong will to live, and due to that will has accomplished what seems impossible. I look forward to the day when all of the invasive plants have been removed and the trees can reach for the sky without being hindered.
One of the trees in Amritapuri’s Saraswati Garden is a Kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) I have learned that these trees can reach a height of 200 feet. My guess is that the one in the Saraswati Garden is 125-150 feet high. It is the tallest tree in the garden.
When I looked for photos of Kapok trees on Wikimedia Commons and Google Images, I saw that the trunk of the trees can be gigantic, such as the one in this photo:
They can also be small like this one in Amritapuri.
I stood by the Kapok tree in the Saraswati Garden and looked up. Notice how the building’s metal roof has been cut away so that it doesn’t impact the tree.
I looked for a place to take a photo that showed both the bottom part of the tree and the part that was above the house.
I still couldn’t see the top of the tree from where I was standing, so I found a different vantage point.
Seed pods, like the one at the top of this post, drop from the tree when they are ready. Inside, there is a substance that is very silky. It also bears resemblance to cotton and wool. Notice the seeds that are scattered throughout the silky material.
A Rainforest Alliance article said this about the Kapok tree:
The majestic kapok tree has many uses for humans. Its wood is lightweight and porous; good for making carvings, coffins and dugout canoes. The silky fibers that disperse the seeds are too small for weaving but make great stuffing for bedding and life preservers. Soaps can be made from the oils in the seeds. Other parts of the giant tree are used as medicines. In ancient times, the Maya believed that the kapok tree stood at the center of the earth.
In Amritapuri, the pod contents are being used to stuff meditation pillows. I look forward to telling the devotees who are working in this garden that the oil in the seeds can be used for making soap and that pillows stuffed with the silky filaments will float!
To look at previous posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.