Friday, January 20, 2012

The Peeping Gardener - Seattle

Ok, this is my last post from the hundreds of photos I took this past summer in Seattle. And I imagine they're going to look quite different than how it has looked in Seattle for the past few days.

These are all from the first day I was in Seattle when I met up with Andrea of Grow Where You're Planted. Having both heard about Gas Works Park when we were studying landscape architecture, we both wanted to stop off there for a look. Gas Works Park was designed by Landscape Architect Richard Haag, created from the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company. I lot of the machinery and buildings remain and being a fan of rusty things, I thought it would be fun to check out.

gas works park

Of course the most interesting and decadently decaying industrial structures are off limits. Even up close a chain-link fence keeps you from getting a good look at it. I could get a few shots using my zoom lens and shooting over the fence.


I'd love to be able to visit Duisburg Nord Park in Germany where visitors are allowed to explore the old factories, litigation lawyers be damned.

There are some areas where you can get close and touch things but they are rather sanitized in their immovable parts and fresh coats of paint.

gas works staticgas works painted

The children's play area is down-right depressing.

gas works playground

The only fun thing to climb has a Keep Off sign on it.

gas works keep off

I suppose the best feature is the tall, king-of-the-hill vantage point one can't help but climb.

up the hill

the view

The view is great and there was kind of a weird sundial/pool/topographical map? thing at the top of the hill. It was a little dank and I kind of wondered if it would be better if kids didn't play in the water sitting in it, but I suppose it is pretty useful for keeping time on all those sunny Seattle days.

sundial mapsundial detailsundial

I guess overall it's a pretty gritty park, not too sanitized. Even with lots of people walking through, it still felt abandoned.

Walking along the pedestrian path, passing under bridges, we came across lots of handmade art left here and there. Here are some of my favorite we came across:

chained heartyour time is not moneyadult aged teenagers stuck in nobody understands me phase shadowlooking upadult aged teenagers stuck in nobody understands me phase

Ok, on to the garden peeping. Seattle, with all its grey weather, can pull off some intense colors. I wish I could grow acidic chartreuse plants as beautifully as they can.

color in the greybig and blousy

The raspberries seem quite happy growing here. This house had them just falling on the sidewalk so I didn't feel bad helping myself to a few.

rampant raspberryraspberries falling from the bush

Then we stumbled upon this very ambitious vertical wall in front of someone's house. A poured concrete wall that must have been 8' tall and 20' long with plantings on both sides and around the corner with window cutouts. Pretty fancy.

vertical garden

vertical garden window

double sided vertical gardenvertical garden very nice from this angleinteresting what does well and what doesn't in a vertical garden

vertical garden corner

Here is a close-up of the fabric pocket structure and how the irrigation gets through the wall.

vertical garden pocket detailvertical garden irrigation detail

I always get worried about what will happen in a few years when the owners get tired of taking care of a wall like this because let's face it, it's not low maintenance keeping plants happy and full in little pockets like that.

We came across a beautifully landscaped Japanese-style garden.

japanese style stone stepsjapanese parking stripjapanese stone steps detailmossy shade

I loved this stair railing made to look like one of those huge pieces of seaweed.

seaweed stair railingseaweed railing

I was taken with the huge boulders they use in Seattle for building retaining walls.

chunky retaining wall

And of course you can always spot the control freak in every neighborhood.

shrubs cubed


  1. I have the same thought on vertical walls. I think there are going to be a lot of crappy looking messes all over the place. Weird trend but I have to admit they can look neat if well maintained. Not sure if I am a fan of the ones with pockets though.

    Neat tour. Seattle is a great gardening climate (even though it is way too rainy for me!) I really love those crayola looking townhouses.

  2. I read about Duisburg, perhaps in Landscape Architect magazine, and thought how cool it was and the nothing like that would ever be built in the states. I am gald I was proven wrong.

  3. I wonder about those big boulders whenever I'm in Seattle too. I can never get an answer about where they came from and/or why they're there. If the street is ground level, then all the houses are built way above grade. It just seems odd.

    My favorite restaurant is at gas works park, Elemental. An amazing place.

    1. The boulders are there to keep the soil in place. The land is naturally elevated like that. Seattle is the opposite of flat. Large inclines like that in a small surface area are quite common. Level ground is what is rare in Seattle.

  4. Chuck - yeah, really weird how the houses are built in Seattle. surely it isn't due to flooding? That don't get THAT much rain do they? I wish I had know about Elemental, although I did enjoy Homegrown, the place we went to nearby.

  5. I am relay wondered after seeing all this Landscape Architect magazine. on the other hand i m also worried built a house on Seattle because of flooding.

  6. I live in Oregon and though I've visited Seattle from time to time, I had never heard of that park. Something to check out the next time my family is there.

    Believe it or not, dig just about anywhere in Oregon and Washington and sooner or later you'll hit rock. lol Although some people do have boulders brought in for landscape effect, my guess is that in those neighborhoods the boulders were there during construction, and instead of being removed, were used as part of the landscape.

    I've never heard of the houses being 'built up' due to flooding (but yes, Seattle can get that much rain lol), but many homes in Portland OR are built up on grades just like that.

    I've never been a fan of pocket or wall gardens. Those made the rounds in the 1970s, and even as a kid I thought they were ugly. That said, if that's the only way a person has to grow a few veggies and flowers, and it's kept up, it can continue to look nice.


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