The Work Continues

This morning I woke up to the usual noises of destruction (I mean construction) behind my house in what was once called the Tiffany Park Woods and went to take a look.

This is what I saw.

Which is all fine and good but I certainly hope the brakes are in good working order.

~ Susanne

A Visit to Bellevue Botanical Garden

One sunny day earlier this summer my husband had to be in Bellevue so I hitched a ride and had him drop me off at the Bellevue Botanical Garden.  He was longer than we thought he would be, so I got to enjoy a very leisurely 3 hour visit, strolling through the garden at a snail’s pace, starting with the centerpiece, the Perennial Border.

The award-winning Perennial Border has year-round displays of flowers and according to the brochure, “is an example of a distinctively American-style-mixed-border and a living demonstration of what works best in Northwest gardens.”  I walked the paths through this living work of art admiring the variety of plants, their unique shapes and sizes, textures and colors.

I wandered through the Waterwise Garden and the Fuschia Garden,

the Native Discovery Garden and the Yao Garden, pausing to enjoy the hydrangeas along the trails that took me from one to another.

From the Lost Meadow Trail, I was delighted to discover this.

A nature trail through pristine woods, complete with a 150 ft suspension bridge over a steep ravine where you enjoy views of native understory and second-growth forest without trampling the forest floor. Oh, there is nothing like the Woods!

As much as I love cultivated gardens, I am partial to the Northwest Woods.  I was happy to wander alone on the peaceful paths under a canopy of big leaf maples and western red cedars, where birds and other wildlife make their homes undisturbed.  I was thankful these woods had been preserved and added to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. And I couldn’t help but wonder: what if the 22 acres known as the Tiffany Park Woods in Renton, those woods that were recently razed to the ground so ninety plus houses could go up; what if those woods had been preserved for all to enjoy, even as these woods in Bellevue had been?  I guess we will never know.

I continued back up the trail and waited for my ride and promised myself I would come back again to this wonderful place.

~ Susanne

The Gone Tiffany Park Woods

I must say that was fast. Not only have the trees and shrubs come down in what was formerly known as the Tiffany Park Woods, but the area has been pulverized into submission (and yes, dirt) with not a single green thing left, except for the few promised patches. Surprising?  Yes.

I knew the trees would go but I guess I held some notion that shrubs and understory would remain.  I mean, why take it all? Wouldn’t new homeowners want that vegetation around their houses? (Obviously I know nothing about construction.)  Anyway, it’s all gone and the land is being leveled for the infrastructure and houses to come. On the bright side, I won’t need an alarm for awhile since the heavy equipment rolls in around 7 and the noise and vibration shake me out of bed.

I’m also happy to report that Benji and Tiger are coping surprisingly well with all the commotion. They still want out all hours of the day and seem content with the new confines of their territory. (No more sneaking into the woods for them.)

I’m sorry the woods are gone, but I’m thankful my backyard still has enough trees on both sides of the fence for shade and privacy. And more sunshine in some spots where the tree cover was heavier.

So it’s time to move on and say goodbye to the Tiffany Park Woods. Still, if I had it to do over again, I would fight a little harder, maybe hug a few trees, to try to get the woods preserved and added to the city’s park system; an urban park where woodpeckers and owls could still live, with access and trails for all to enjoy.

Maybe next time.

~ Susanne

A Walk in the Woods at Flaming Geyser State Park

Another summer day and another walk in the woods, my first at Flaming Geyser State Park.  Now before you get too excited, I must disavow you of the notion that there’s an actual flaming geyser in the park.  No.  Sorry.  It petered out many years ago;  see empty depression in the ground below for confirmation.

But I am promised by the brochure that it did in fact exist once in this very spot. Yes, in 1911 some miners tapped into methane gas and saltwater 1,000 feet underground, and fire and water shot up 25 feet in the air!  I wish I could have seen that!   They also say that the fire continued for many years until the methane gas finally ran out, so all that’s left is the name, Flaming Geyser. But no matter what they call it, the park is still quite wonderful.  First of all the Green River flows through it with good accessible shoreline for swimming, fishing, boating and inner tubing.  It has a designated area for remote control model planes (and drones these days), as well as horse trails and large grassy picnic areas.

And there are wooded trails with river access!  What more do you want?

And so we walked the easy path through the woods, alongside of giant ferns and berries and shrubs and trees of all sizes and shapes, most of them dripping with moss.

Along the path I saw this tiny orchid like flower which added a nice splash of color to the mostly green landscape.  It’s called impatiens capensis, or more commonly, orange jewelweed or orange balsam.  Pretty isn’t it?

After a mile or so the trail connected to the river and we stopped to rest and watched the happy drifters go by.

We also watched a flock of ducks swim furiously up river in the opposite direction.  They seemed to take turns being the leader, running to get to the front of the pack while the others hung back.  They bobbed underwater when the mood struck them (for food I assume) and stopped by the pools to hang out. They seemed to be having as much fun as the human drifters in their inner tubes.

DSC04919 (3)

The 65 mile long Green River flows from the west side of the Cascades, passes through the Green River Gorge, then through Auburn and the Kent Valley, and finally becomes the Duwamish River which flows into Elliott Bay in Seattle.  Last week I walked an urban trail next to it in Tukwila.  I seem to keep bumping into this river and it’s all good.

~ Susanne

Green over Blue in the Pacific Northwest

A Saturday and I woke up feeling kind of blue.  Needed some green for the cure and so we hit the road heading east looking for it.  After thirty minutes or so, traffic slowed and cars lined the road on the approach to Rattlesnake Lake.  Oh!  It’s a Saturday in summer and everyone is out.  Further up the road we find the Cedar River Watershed Education Center nestled on the shores of the lake.  No crowds here and we enjoy great views of Rattlesnake Ledge above, in relative quiet and safely on the ground,

rather than with the hoards of brave hikers perched precariously at the top.

A nice stop but on we go to the nearby and lesser traveled Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie where Bob knows the best places to hike and cast his fly rod into the river.

We arrive at our destination and enjoy a short walk through the woods to the footbridge.

On the other side, Bob finds a perfect spot to cast his line and has the river all to himself.

I walk the trail nearby, enjoying the beauty of the river and mountains and every green thing. Happy.

The great thing about carrying a camera is you look more closely at the world around you and see things you never noticed before; like this tiny starry plant (or is it lichen or moss?) growing everywhere on the side of the trail, so delicate yet hardy at the same time, and in various shades of green.

I must have passed it by many times over the years, but today I saw it. Touched it. Marveled at it.  A good day.

~  Susanne

A Halt to the Work at the Tiffany Park Woods

Too little too late.  The beautiful Tiffany Park Woods are nearly gone, the birds and wildlife already evicted, the native flora disappeared. Still, I was heartened to know someone is paying attention to the promises made by the developer when they obtained the permit to raze these woods and replace them with 97 houses.   According to a story in today’s Renton Reporter, “a stop work order was issued after inspectors found two protected trees were removed from the site.”  I wondered why all had gone quiet.

“In order to lift the stop order, the developers will have to meet conditions set upon by the city, including paying a fine and replacing the two removed trees with 12 other trees. The city will decide on the types and locations of the trees at a later date. In addition, if the developers remove other protected trees once the stop work order is lifted, the city will revoke their permit and cease all construction.”  ~  Renton Reporter 6/28/17

There is some justice after all.

I visited the Woods earlier this spring before the work began to document their beauty.

For the last few weeks I have also documented their destruction, which has been far more difficult to observe than I had imagined.

I watched a panicked red-headed woodpecker fly to a large Douglas Fir in my yard (to take up residence I hope) after the large trees around him came down.  And I have never seen a sadder looking deer than this one recently taking refuge in a tiny patch of remaining woods as trees were felled nearby.  I hope he made it safely to a new home.

For several years, friends of the Tiffany Park Woods fought against this project and lost.  What they won were concessions from the builder including a tree retention plan as conditions for the permit. The work stoppage may only be temporary, but if it results in the saving of a few more trees, then it is worth it.  I’m glad the developer is being held accountable for the terms that were agreed upon.

~ Susanne

Soos Creek Botanical Garden

After the rain showers this week,  I visited the lovely Soos Creek Botanical Garden today.  It was a rather spontaneous decision, made while drinking my latte at the Starbucks next to the gym where I was supposedly headed next.  But the rain had stopped.  Fresh air and a walk would be better than the treadmill, wouldn’t it?  Of course it would!   And I’d only been to the Soos Creek Garden once before, even though it’s only a thirty minute drive down the road. Time for another visit.

A few volunteers were the only ones I saw as I walked through the Carlmas Long Borders promenade, the centerpiece of the garden.  The grass was still wet and the flowers fresh with raindrops from the day before.  Beautiful color exploded on each side.

Afterwards I wandered on paths through native woods, including a cedar grove and alder grove, and made my way down to the creek.

I headed back up to where I started, to the top of the expansive lawn where the Schaefer Pond Garden was peaceful and serene.

Soos Creek Botanical Garden is 22 acres of garden and woodlands, exactly the size of the Tiffany Park Woods that are currently being destroyed in my neighborhood. I guess it’s some consolation to know I can visit the lovely Botanical Garden for a safe and scenic walk in the woods.

Before leaving, I bought some plants, dropping my money in the donation box, and went home to find a place for them in my yard.

Much better than the gym I have to admit.

~  Susanne