By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus
Today it is difficult to find much open space when you walk about the Washington Park Arboretum. Often you have trouble seeing the sky. I have often heard visitors remark, “How I love the Arboretum, it never changes, only seasonally.” Several years ago, I had a gentleman tell me that he drove through the Arboretum daily and it had not changed a bit in 25years. It is interesting how subtly plants go up and around us, without us realizing it – that is, until we need to prune or remove them. Plants, particularly conifers, in the Northwest can grow almost every day of the year, anytime the temperature is above 40 degrees F. No wonder we have such large conifers!
This is a picture taken July 16, 1948, soon after the Washington Park Arboretum officially began. It was taken from the lower part of East Interlaken Boulevard looking east across Lake Washington Boulevard. In the center is Rhododendron Glen. Look at the sparseness of trees and shrubs and you can actually see the “Glen” from East Interlaken Boulevard. You can also see the small meandering stream coming down the hillside and the small pond along Azalea Way.
Today the curatorial and maintenance staffs need to manage the growth of the plants, the collections and the native matrix (native trees that are not accessioned). It is a challenge to allow enough space for plants to grow to their intended size and shape. They make decisions on pruning and removal on a daily basis. The decisions they make enable us to enjoy the true beauty of each plant as well as the beauty of the panorama.