Tree Walk at Seward Park

September 8, 2014

Seward Park, Seattle

Seward Park, Seattle

“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”
— Karle Wilson Baker, from 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R. J. Palacio

Earlier this summer when I walked the perimeter of Seattle, I passed by Seward Park without taking the time to explore it.  So I returned on Friday to see what this popular city park was all about and to walk the 2+ mile road edging the “peninsula” that juts into Lake Washington.  The city of Seattle has published a “Tree Walk at Seward Park,” and with this printout I set out to identify some of the magnificent trees in the park.  Let me take you along on my jaunt through Seward Park.

View of Mount Rainier across lake Washington from Seward Park

View of Mount Rainier across lake Washington from Seward Park

Row of Bolleana Poplars along the parking lot

Row of Bolleana Poplars along the parking lot

Leaves of the Bolleana Poplar

Leaves of the Bolleana Poplar

Garry Oak

Garry Oak

Leaves of Garry Oak

Leaves of Garry Oak

Spider web

Spider web

Madrona bark.  According to the city brochure, "Seward Park is home to Seattle's largest collection of Madrona trees.

Madrona bark. According to the city brochure, “Seward Park is home to Seattle’s largest collection of Madrona trees.

Another Madrona with peeling bark.  Madronas are native to the Pacific Northwest.

Another Madrona with peeling bark. Madronas are native to the Pacific Northwest.

Most of the trees in Seward Park are native Douglas Fir trees.

Most of the trees in Seward Park are native Douglas Fir trees.

The cones of the Douglas Fir have dragon-tongue-like protrusions jutting out from the cone bracts.

The cones of the Douglas Fir have dragon-tongue-like protrusions jutting out from the cone bracts.

Sketch of Douglas Fir cone

Sketch of Douglas Fir cone

Leaves and acrons from Northern Red Oak

Leaves and acorns from Northern Red Oak

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Threadleaf Falsecypress

Threadleaf Falsecypress

Traffic circle at Seward Park

Traffic circle at Seward Park

Blue Atlas Cedar

Blue Atlas Cedar

The clusters of the Blue Atlas Cedar look like spiky beads on a bracelet

The clusters of the Blue Atlas Cedar look like spiky beads on a bracelet

Coastal Redwoods

Coastal Redwoods

Leaf litter beneath the Coastal Redwoods

Leaf litter beneath the Coastal Redwoods

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Port Orford Cedar

Port Orford Cedar

Trail through the trees, Seward Park

Trail through the trees, Seward Park

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Walking the High Line

Walking the High Line

One of the top highlights of my first trip to New York City was walking the High Line, an elevated park built on an old railway.  It’s currently about 1.45 miles in length.  We walked the entire line, from the southern entrance in the Meatpacking District to its current terminus on 34th Street.  I wish I could return in each of the four seasons because as lovely as the park is in the cold of January, it must be even more vibrant in spring, summer, and fall.

History of the High Line

History of the High Line

Let me take you on a virtual tour.

Steps up to the park from Gansevoort -- a study in grays

Steps up to the park from Gansevoort — a study in grays

Protecting a piece of art from the winter chill!

Protecting a piece of art from the winter chill!

The High Line is dotted with many benches and plantings

The High Line is dotted with many benches and plantings

Diane Von Furstenberg building next to the High Line

Diane Von Furstenberg building next to the High Line

Sun deck

Sun deck

700 panes of colored glass -- art installation called The River that Flows Both Ways by Spencer Finch

700 panes of colored glass — art installation called The River that Flows Both Ways by Spencer Finch

Huge glass window over a busy NYC street

Huge glass window over a busy NYC street

First view of IAC Headquarters building designed by Frank Gehry

First view of IAC Headquarters building designed by Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry's IAC Building along High Line

Frank Gehry’s IAC Building along High Line

Lights glow in the windows

Lights glow in the windows

Art installation called Broken Bridge II by El Anatsui

Art installation called Broken Bridge II by El Anatsui

Wall art viewed from the High Line

Wall art viewed from the High Line

Window overlooking the High Line

Window overlooking the High Line

Nearby wall art seen from High Line

Nearby wall art seen from High Line

Benches with lighting near 34th St on the High Line

Benches with lighting near 34th St on the High Line

And here are some of the plants, trees, and flowers along the High Line in winter:

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Jelena witch hazel

Jelena witch hazel

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Walking the bald cypress-lined path at Green Lake

The bald cypress is an intriguing tree.  Its leaves look like the needles of evergreen trees, so when they begin turning color in the fall, you wonder whether the tree is diseased.  But no, it is in fact a deciduous tree, and the color change is normal.  It’s also a conifer.  Green Lake Park in Seattle has several tall specimens.

Cones of the bald cypress

Impressionist-like curtain of foliage — turning rusty orange in November

 

 

According to local tree expert, Arthur Lee Jacobson, there are over 160 different kinds of trees at Green Lake Park.  In 1992, Jacobson wrote Trees of Green Lake, in which he provides “prose portraits” as an introduction to these trees.  I armed myself with this book on a recent walk around the lake.  The book was helpful, but what I needed was a map locating and identifying the trees around the lake.  I finished my self-guided tour wondering if I was matching the right trees with their descriptions.

I’ve decided I need to watch for one of Jacobson’s guided walks and sign up!

Still, there is a lot happening with Green Lake’s trees.  Take this Atlas Cedar, for example (or maybe it’s a Cedar of Lebanon) on the east side of the lake.  It is a huge tree, with so much to see!  Jacobson says it hails from the “snow-clad Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco” and differs from “other trees called cedars in that they bear needles , not scalelike miniature leaves.”  I loved how the needles formed in clusters that line the branches.

There were plenty of cones, but the ones that had fallen left these pointy stems.

Cones and stems left behind

Cone with pieces about to fall off the top

The lawn under the tree was littered with pieces of broken cones

Some of the pieces got caught in the needles

I didn't know what these were. Possibly new cones? They looked like brown caterpillars.

And I loved this cone on another Atlas Cedar on the west side of the lake:

Atlas Cedar cones, opened and closed