Meghan Fuller, manager of the Grounds department, provided the following update on the landscaping work happening along 45th Ave NE.

The area between the Ocean parking garage and 45th Ave NE has been neglected since it was planted in about 2003. If you look from 45th, you’ll see the area is covered with trees – however not one of those trees below the wall was purposely planted; they all blew in as volunteer weed trees. They include cottonwoods, willows, a horse chestnut, quaking aspen, and other trees. They do create a wonderful screen for the neighborhood, however, so that part is a blessing. But unfortunately, the lower area also became filled with dense blackberry – so dense that it has grown up 20+’ in some places, into the trees and to the area above the wall.

Dense blackberry climbs up trees, shades out other plants, and over time kills things trapped underneath it. The area at the north end, above the retaining wall, was so infested that no living plants remained underneath. If you go there now, you’ll notice a large fallen dead pine tree lying on the slope – it’s obviously been there for years, but the blackberry was so incredibly dense and tall, and the area so inaccessible, that we didn’t even know it was in there until we removed the blackberry.

This past Spring, we began the process of renovating the full length of the space above the retaining wall to create a dense but beautiful screen of shrubs and trees for the neighbors.

Here’s a list of what we’re doing:

  1. Cut down blackberries and hand dig out the roots.
  2. Remove ivy off trees, as that also kills them over time.
  3. Remove dead shrubs and trees (we are not removing living plants, just things that are dead or nearly dead).
  4. Have our tree company prune off large dead branches that could be a hazard if they fell.
  5. Mulch the area to prevent weeds and erosion.
  6. This fall, winter, and spring, begin adding trees, shrubs, ferns, and small plants to create a multi-layered canopy and understory of plantings that result in a much more effective visual and sound barrier, not just at the edge of the 45th sidewalk, but across the full depth of the space.
  7. Then we’ll begin clearing & digging the blackberry and dead plants out of the area below the retaining wall. Any hazardous or dead/dying trees will be removed (there are only a few) and the rest of the living trees and shrubs will remain. The area underneath will also be replanted with a mix of trees, shrubs, and understory plantings to add to the visual barrier between the hospital and neighborhood.

Replanting in this area will happen over the next few months to fill in portions of the perimeter where there is visibility to the hospital. To the extent possible, we will select large plants as replacements. Our grounds crew has already installed green landscaping fabric where there are gaps.

As the space comes together and begins to grow in with new plantings, we hope neighbors will be very pleased with it. It is a much-needed improvement that will be designed to last years into the future. Please know that I am very committed to creating and maintaining an effective and beautiful barrier between the hospital and neighborhood – and as a grounds manager, it’s important to me that it’s healthy and sustainable for years to come, and does not include weed infestations, hazardous trees, or areas so dense that they cannot be maintained.