This isn’t a post about food, I admit. These were ornamental cherry trees, not fruiting ones. But still.
If you’ve wandered through Seattle’s arboretum in springtime, you’ve surely noticed the long, flat walkway of cherry trees. It’s lovely, but it wasn’t the best place for blossoms in the park. That honor went to a hillside just south of the walkway, a grassy slope with a tiny gazebo and several old, gorgeous blooming cherries. Every spring, I (and numerous other Seattleites) found our way there to bask, picnic, take pictures, shake petals off of branches. People may have walked along the path, but seeing the hillside made them want to linger. It was the ideal basking and picnicking place, the kind of hillside that made old folks act like little kids, and sweethearts kiss and photograph their sweethearts.
Here’s what it looked like yesterday. More pics at the end of the post, showing what it looked like before.
Seattle Parks and Rec, making way for a new New Zealand garden project, chopped down the trees. There wasn’t any particular reason they chose that hillside, it seems, other than that the trees were a bit older and the parks department was planning the New Zealand garden somewhere in that vicinity. They could have installed the New Zealand garden just down the slope, in a spot which is fairly overgrown and to which people have little emotional attachment. People could have sat under the cherry trees and admired the new garden. Seattle Parks and Rec could have planted a few new cherry trees among the old ones, so that they’d grow while the others were aging out.
They can’t put the old trees back, of course. But it’s not too late to do something. I just spoke with Andy Sheffer, the project manager, for a while. He has a meeting of the committee this Wednesday (3/7/12), and is willing to bring up my concerns. One idea: plant new cherry trees in that spot, leaving open grass between them, and install the new garden at the bottom of the slope. It wouldn’t be the same for years, but it would be beautiful again someday.
Trees and gardens come and go, and I don’t usually get quite this emotional about them. But in the short time I was standing in that spot yesterday, staring at the chopped stumps, several other people walked by and expressed remorse, including an older woman who had been coming for years. When I mentioned it on Facebook, several friends said how much they’d loved that spot, how they’d gone every year. While not everyone had discovered this idyllic little hillside, those who found it in spring adored it.
If you’d like to voice your opinion before Wednesday, Andy’s contact information is:
800 Maynard Ave S,
Seattle, WA 98134