Glimpse into the past – an old pond and a new garden in the works

View across pond, April 26, 1949.
View across pond, April 26, 1949.

When visiting the Washington Park Arboretum on a regular basis, it is usually not evident that changes occur in both the plants themselves as well as the land forms.  However it is easy to see when you compare the photographs over a period of years.  This is particularly true when there is water movement involved.

This summer, there will be a new garden constructed near the large southern-most pond along Azalea Way.   This is the pond at the base of Rhododendron Glen.   All the ponds in the Arboretum were artificially constructed during the Work Progress Administration program in which hundreds of men worked in creating the Arboretum.  Two photos from 1949 (above) and 1954 (below) show the rather irregular shoreline of that pond.  Also note the size of the plantings and the pleasant benches directly across from the pond along Azalea Way.

View north across pond, April 27, 1954.
View north across pond, April 27, 1954.

However, by the early 2000’s, all the ponds were filled with silt and debris and many were also leaking. They held only small amounts of water and had become great depositories for invasive weeds and mosquitoes. This pond had “walked” quite a distance into Azalea Way. In 2004, the pond was completely drained. and new concrete containment walls were installed.

Shoreline, May 2, 2004.
Shoreline, May 2, 2004.

 

Pond full of silt and weeks, May 2, 2004.
Pond full of silt and weeks, May 2, 2004.

 

Erosion under the wall, May 2, 2004.
Erosion under the wall, May 2, 2004.

Mother Nature seems to like to keep moving the soil around, and again the pond has changed.  This year, the new Centennial Garden, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Seattle Garden Club will be constructed as a summer garden and again the pond will be changed.   So the next time you visit that area, be aware of the new Centennial Garden as well as the new look of the pond.  Check out Arboretum Bulletin, 79:2. pg. 13-17, 2017, (hitting mailboxes soon) for more information about the upcoming project.