This is an archived article.

April 8, 2010

Arboretum launches next phase of Pacific Connections Garden project

News and Information

The corner of the Washington Park Arboretum at Arboretum Drive and Lake Washington Boulevard is being remade this year with trees and other plants native to Chile as part of the ongoing Pacific Connections Garden project.

Under the project, groups of trees and plants are being planted that represent this region and parts of four other countries in the Pacific Rim with climates similar to ours: China, New Zealand, Australia and Chile. Entry gardens for each country were completed in 2008. Plans call for trails from those entry gardens to five forests planted with additional plants native to the various regions.

Work on the first part of the Chilean forest is expected to start mid-month when 34 mature trees will be removed to uncover a basalt rockery that was built under the direction of landscape architect Otto Holmdahl in 1937.

This document lists the trees that will be cut and the 72 Chilean trees that will replace them. The trees being removed include big leaf maples, Douglas firs and junipers that “do not contribute to the horticultural collection,” the document says. The arboretum is in a Seattle park where the UW owns and manages the plant collections for research and education and works cooperatively with Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Arboretum Foundation.

Three public meetings, a press conference and one public tour this year gave citizens chances to learn about the project, make comments and ask questions, such as how wood from the downed trees would be used. The wood will be sorted into what’s usable for woodworking, milling into lumber and creating habitat on parklands (for instance, sections of logs that wildlife might use) and the rest will be chipped for use as mulch in the arboretum. Another question was whether Plant Amnesty group would be called about removing and replanting small trees and shrubs. The answer was yes, with that work being done before trees are removed in order to better protect the health of the shrubs.

Chilean species that will be planted in what’s called the “Gateway to Chile” forest will include Fuchsia magellanica, or hardy fuchsia; drimys winteri varandina, or winter’s bark; embothrium coccineum, or Chilean fire bush; the endangered conifer Austrocedrus chilensis; and Pilgerodendron uviferum, a tree that can grow to be 500 years old.

“Capturing the attention of people riding in the18,000 cars going by each day on Lake Washington Boulevard, the new display will introduce arboretum visitors to plants found in temperate regions like our own while gardeners might learn of new and exciting plants to try, ” says UW forest resources’ Fred Hoyt, associate director for the UW Botanic Gardens, of which the arboretum is part.

The Arboretum Foundation is contributing approximately $290,000 toward the $450,000 construction cost. The rest of the money was approved as part of Seattle’s 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy.