News in and around Madison Valley

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Garden Party: Festival in the Evening Sun



The Seattle Japanese Garden will be hosting its biennial fundraiser and celebration of everything the garden has to offer. Join us for a summer evening in the Seattle Japanese Garden sipping sake under the setting sun!


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Attendees will savor local wine, specially-chosen sake, Japanese beer, and a dinner menu inspired by the food found at a traditional Japanese summer festival.

Described as the “Best Kept Secret in Seattle,” this is one summer evening event you won't want to miss.

Diners will be serenaded by a jazz trio and be enveloped by the lush greenery of the garden in summer and watch as the sunset transforms the landscape into majestic twilight.


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All tax-deductible proceeds will go to support programming, operations and capital improvements for the Garden.

Thursday, July 12, 2018
6:00 PM–9:00 PM
Tickets: $125
Purchase Tickets Here


Post a Comment | Topics: Social Events, Arboretum, Nature

Greenbelt Birds


The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt volunteer forest stewards hosted Lead Naturalist, Ed Dominguez from the Seward Park Audubon Center this past Wednesday, April 25. The visit brought two new neighbors into the fold of our Greenbelt team and was enjoyed by all. The Stewards had identified four areas within the site that they wished to have some expertise guidance for creating an optimum bird habitat.

Ed did not disappoint! For two hours we wondered among the trees as he identified birds by sight and sound. We even spotted the first migrating warbler of the season!


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Naturalist Ed Dominguez with some of the event’s participants.


Ed was most complimentary of our restoration efforts that have had a primary goal of fostering birdlife. He had some suggestions for additional plant material and gave us some pointers for respecting nesting areas.

The Stewards felt that we received both positive validation of our own efforts as well as tips for continuing success. Thank you, Ed! We are most appreciative.


Post a Comment | Topics: Nature

Alder Creek Anniversary Celebration


Hello Friends and Neighbors: 

It has been 11 years since our neighbor, Wallis Bolz, took up the challenge of restoring our neighborhood’s special place, Alder Creek. It is the wild space at the dead end of 26th Ave East and East Helen. Once an overgrown, impenetrable patch of blackberries, ivy and bindweed, it has been transformed to a wild place filled with native plants and birds. A stream runs through it and trails built over the years by volunteers provide a quiet, private spot to relax in the busy city. 


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Over the years a group of regular volunteers have spent three hours each month weeding, planting, and mulching with wood chips. These second Saturday work parties have been augmented with United Way and other community-wide volunteer groups that have allowed us to make real progress. The ivy and blackberries are almost gone! The birds are loving the snags and brushy undergrowth.


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Many neighbors don’t even know that Alder Creek is a public space so we are having a 11th Anniversary Celebration on June 3, Sunday, from 10 AM to noon. We’ll provide donuts and coffee. Penny Bolton of Seattle Audubon will bring a collection of bird skins that represent the species we have in Alder Creek and your yards. Meet your neighbors, let the kids play on the logs, and learn about our project.

We look forward to seeing you. If you have any questions feel free to email Penny Bolton at ppbolton AT gmail DOT com

June 3, Sunday
10 AM to Noon
Alder Creek


Post a Comment | Topics: Nature

New Forest Steward for Greenbelt



Please welcome your neighbor Linda Becker as our latest volunteer in the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt! Linda has lived in Madison Valley for 20 years and is a lifelong gardener. After she retired last year, Linda looked no further than her own backyard for a worthwhile volunteer opportunity. She lives a block away from the Greenbelt and has neighbors who grew up playing in the woods. She was excited to learn about the restoration work—it’s a perfect fit! After completing the official Forest Steward training this fall, Linda will transition to lead volunteer at the Greenbelt. “I hope to foster interest and inspire more volunteers from the neighborhood,” she says. “The Greenbelt is such an important treasure of the community!”


Linda Becker


Linda is right! The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt is the only “wild” greenspace in the neighborhood. The 6-acre land is home to many birds and provides a wonderful respite from the asphalt and concrete of our lives. As a human geographer (a scientist who studies why people live where they live), Linda is especially aware of the benefits of interacting with nature for people of all ages, but especially for children. Anyone can meander the paths and sit among the trees. Additionally, the Stewards provide field work experiences for the Urban Forestry class at The Bush School.

The Forest Stewards of the Greenbelt work under the auspices of Forterra. Forterra’s mission is to secure wilderness, local farms, and city greenspaces from unbridled development. They provide tools, plants, and support to the Steward volunteers. Forterra functions as a non-profit under the umbrella of Green City Partnerships. They supervise the restoration of hundreds of thousands of acres that will now be saved for our future generations.

Stop by and say hello when you see us! Please consider joining our team! Even one or two hours a month can make a big difference. Working together, we can all enjoy this special park.


Post a Comment | Topics: Nature, Conservation

Bird Lovers in the Neighborhood


The Seward Park Audubon folks are coming to our Greenbelt for a habitat consultation. As the caretakers of our Greenbelt, your neighbor volunteer forest stewards are always mindful of installing plants that provide shelter and food for our winged friends. This effort is one of our priorities.


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Your volunteer neighbors Trina Wherry, Peter Constantini and Linda Becker hard at work this spring.


The Stewards are hosting the Audubon educators to provide additional expert guidance for the coming season and beyond. 

YOU are invited to this unique opportunity! Please join us!

Wednesday, April 25th 4–6 PM
Meet: 32nd Ave E between E John and E Denny
Dress for the weather

Click here to register and get more info.


Post a Comment | Topics: Nature, Conservation

Arboretum Loop Trail Grand Opening


An afternoon of public festivities will celebrate the opening of the new Loop Trail in Washington Park Arboretum on April 8 from noon to 3.

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There will be a ribbon-cutting, live music, free snacks, food trucks, and fun activities all along the 2-mile loop.

  • 1 p.m. “Vine-cutting” ceremony at the Birch Parking Lot (Lake WA Blvd & E Interlaken Ave), adjacent the Loop Trail
  • A performance by the Husky Marching Band Drumline.
  • Educational activities for kids hosted by UW Botanic Gardens, plus the opportunity to learn about field trips, camps, and more!
  • Stroller and bike decoration station
  • Activity nodes at various locations around the Loop
  • Live music from Gansango (West African), Marc Smason & One Love (New Orleans), and Evan McPherson (classical guitar)
  • Food trucks: 314 PieChicago WestThai-U-UpLil J’s Super Dawgs
  • Talk and book signing with outdoors writer and guidebook author Craig Romano
  • Free snacks, artists-at-work, and more!

Parking at the Arboretum will be very limited during the Loop Trail event. Please consider coming by bike, foot, or public transportation.



Post a Comment | Topics: Local Publicity, Arboretum, Nature, Recreation

VML Advertising Chooses Our Harrison Ridge for Team Building


Fifteen members of the advertising firm VML donned old clothes and gloves to take on the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt. The firm is committed to volunteer events as a team-building experience.

When forest stewards Cathy Nunneley and Trina Wherry handed out tools and explained the task at hand several members looked somewhat aghast. The area we intended to work on was a slope thick with thorny blackberries, spider webs and other entanglements. This work was a far cry from their usual day of sit down computer tasks. However, fueled onward with coffee generously donated by Starbucks, they plunged right into it.




It was amusing for Cathy and Trina to hear the banter of colleagues that had never seen each other outside of the office. It was fun! “Sure beats being trapped inside on a sunny day!” exclaimed one worker.

The group cleared about 800 sq. ft. of invasive plants. They then covered the land with burlap and chips. This 3-hour event accomplished what Cathy and Trina are able to do in two years!! The area is now ready for the planting native species to expedite the way to a future healthy urban forest.

Much gratitude to VML for choosing our reforestation site.


Post a Comment | Topics: Nature

Harrison Ridge Greenbelt Gardening Party


Please come out to help preserve Madison Valley’s only natural park. We will be doing light weeding and spreading mulch. Wear comfortable shoes, long pants and a long sleeve shirt. All tools and snacks provided.




Saturday, July 15, 10 AM to noon.
32nd Avenue East between E John and E Denny
Signs will be posted


Post a Comment | Topics: Beautification, Nature

Harrison Ridge Greenbelt Community Gardening Party


Please join your neighbors in a two hour contribution to the reforestation of our beloved greenbelt. We will be doing light weeding and spreading burlap sacks and wood chip mulch.

Become a part of Forterra, the most successful urban forestry organization in America.

Your friendly neighborhood forest stewards, Cathy Nunneley and Trina Wherry, will be forever grateful.
See you there!




Saturday, July 15, 10 AM–noon
138 32nd Ave E, Seattle, WA  98112
Coffee and snacks will be available.
All gloves and tools provided.

Questions? Cathy Nunneley:


Post a Comment | Topics: Nature

Madison Park Tree Walk


Steve Lorton, former Pacific Northwest editor of Sunset Magazine will lead this walking tour and share stories about Madison Park’s oldest resident flora and some recent young ones, too. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the neighborhood. Great for kids and grandparents and friends. Enjoy lunch in Madison Park after the walk. Sponsored by the Madison Park Community Council.




Saturday, June 3rd, 10:30 am.
The tour begins at Park Shore
1630 43rd Avenue East


2 Comments, Join In | Topics: Nature

The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt: A History of Community Activism, Chapter 5


In the first four chapters, we learned of the past 20-year history of our Greenbelt. Now we come to today’s restoration efforts.

Continued work in the Greenbelt has been done by two sets of neighborhood volunteers. First, Evelyn Hall and I worked together for a few years. Then, the past three years have been under my and Trina Wherry’s stewardship.


Catherine Nunneley and Trina Wherry


As restoration efforts expanded the area cleared and planted, maintenance became almost unmanageable for just two stewards. We were so busy maintaining the newly planted area that further restoration was incremental in spite of our best efforts. We were feeling overwhelmed.

Three years ago, however, the Bush Middle School students and their teacher, Ben Wheeler, rescued us. Ben began to teach a class in Urban Forestry as part of Bush’s elective curriculum. About a dozen eager students come to the Greenbelt twice a year and have made a huge contribution. Ben does some classroom teaching and then we provide the fieldwork experience.


Bush School students


The students use picks and loppers to remove invasive plants such as ivy and blackberries. They create “life rings” around trees to protect them from the invasives. A layer of burlap and wood chips is then put down over the newly bare areas.

Each session has its own rewards. In spring, the students experience the bare branches of shrubs and trees at the beginning of their session and then delight in the leafing out and flowering that occurs over the weeks.

Fall’s reward is the installation of new plants. The Parks Department delivers a treasure trove of native ferns, trees, and shrubs that were ordered by the Greenbelt’s forest stewards. It’s tons of fun to plant the new forest baby plants.

Both classes do ongoing maintenance in the older areas. Seattle Parks Dept with Forterra provide all the gloves and tools in a big, locked job box on site. The students come to the Greenbelt for five weeks and do the work that it would take us several months alone. There are no adequate words to describe our appreciation.


Bush School students


Trina and I also meet at the site at least yearly with the Forterra volunteer coordinator, Andrea Mojzak, Seattle Parks gardener, Sara Franks, and our new plant ecologist Will Pablo. We walk the site with them and discuss problems, solutions and future plans. It’s wonderful!

This year the trees and shrubs we planted in 2011 are finally becoming part of the larger forest. It’s quite a beautiful sight and an integral part of the community.

The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt is still a large wild area in need of ongoing restoration and maintenance. Although we are squeaking by with the Bush School help, it would be so much better to have some involvement from the community. We have not been successful requesting volunteers from the neighborhood even with small events. We are trying again to encourage participation with an upcoming work party.

Trina and I will host a summertime work party to introduce this community treasure to the neighbors and perhaps spur interest in ongoing support. We certainly hope to see YOU there!

Saturday, July 15, 10AM to noon
32nd Ave E between E John and E Denny. (signage will be in place)
All tools will be provided but bring your favorites if you prefer.
Coffee and snacks provided
Restroom facilities at nearby businesses
Contact: Cathy Nunneley

It’s because of neighbors like you who appreciate the natural beauty of the Greenbelt that we have been able to save this little sliver of forest for ourselves and future generations.


Post a Comment | Topics: Beautification, Nature

The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt: A History of Community Activism, Chapter 4


“Hey! What are you doing tearing out the blackberries!??” Trina and I turn smiling to look upon a young woman walking her dog. I gesture to the sign describing the park as a reforestation site. “We’re your neighbors and the volunteer forest stewards for our Greenbelt. It’s important to remove the invasive plants so that the park will survive.” “But I like blackberries!”, she insists. It’s getting harder to find them in the city. How will I have my blackberry pies? Why can’t the park just be natural?”

This type of encounter is common for forest stewards throughout the city. It’s music to our ears to hear that folks are having a harder time finding blackberry patches. Blackberry is among the most invasive species killing our parks. Without restoration, it’s estimated that in 50 years all the trees will be gone and by the end of the century, Seattle’s urban forests will be completely destroyed. All that will remain will be ivy deserts and impenetrable blackberry thickets. It’s a desirable habitat for rats but not for many other creatures, including humans.

Today, Seattle’s urban forests are predominately deciduous trees such as big leaf maples and alders nearing or at the end of their lifespans. They are infamous for chucking off limbs in windstorms or falling down completely creating hazardous conditions. Additionally, they are covered with an ivy and clematis canopy hastening their demise. Although green in summer, they are extremely unattractive in winter. These neglected green spaces are undesirable.

Healthy urban forests are attractive and increase property values. They provide wildlife habitat, reduce storm water runoff and erosion, and improve air quality while reducing global warming. Studies from UW indicate interaction with wild green areas promote both mental and physical health.

So….back to our concerned dog walker and her fellow blackberry aficionados:

“Well,” we say, “We love blackberry pie too! However, we love this park more. Are you happy to have a wild urban forest in the neighborhood?” She nods and like everyone answers: “Yes.”

In the mid 2000s, one of our more observant neighbors realized that clematis, ivy, and blackberry had overwhelmed our neglected Greenbelt. The trees were covered with the vines and obviously struggling. Led by Libby Sinclair, the group “Save the Trees” was formed. A tiny dedicated band of neighbors worked rather casually and intermittently pulling out the ivy and clematis for a couple of years but this effort wasn’t enough.




We turned to Forterra, part of the Green Seattle Partnership, for the rescue! Green Seattle Partnership (GSP) was formed in 2004 as a collaborative effort of many entities: Among them: Seattle Parks, Dept. of Parks and Recreation, SPU and many, many non-profits. The GSP has 2,500 acres of green space under reforestation and has become the largest and most effective urban forest restoration project in America!

Forterra has many missions in the reforestation effort. One of their amazing contributions is encouragement and management of all the “civilian” volunteers out in the parks. Forterra supplies tools, mulching materials and expertise to assist volunteers care for their green spaces.

Ongoing classes and events for forest stewards ensure folks are developing the necessary skills. The untiring and dedicated staff led by Andrea Mojzak has truly been a lifesaver.

The final chapter will introduce us to the current reforestation efforts in the Greenbelt and our two forest stewards. 


Post a Comment | Topics: Beautification, Nature

The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt: A History of Community Activism, Chapter 3


Previously, in the first two chapters, I presented an overview of our neighborhood’s successful effort to save the wooded hillside along 32nd Avenue East from development. First, in the 1960s, the community rallied together to prevent an ill-advised low-income housing project from being built. Then, twenty years later, the neighbors again banded together to block the construction of houses in the green space. The financially stable City of Seattle was able to purchase the property in question under the law of eminent domain. It was the first time that eminent domain had been utilized to acquire property for the specific purpose of maintaining green space in the city. Now that the community had its wooded hillside, it was up to the residents to maintain the site.

In 1993, a committee was formed within the newly resurrected Harrison-Denny Community Council (the prior name of the present MVCC) to apply for grant money and carry out a reforestation project. The group, lead by Jerry and Peggy Sussman, received a Department of Neighborhoods Matching Fund Grant for $13,000. With the money, they began a project that spanned two years.

To begin, the committee hired landscape designer Blair Constantine. Blaire surveyed the area and drew up the plans to restore the 6 1/2 acres of land. The woods had been used a dumpsite for generations. In the summer of 1994, students were recruited from the area’s schools as paid workers to clean up. Volunteers from the community pitched in too. Huge amounts of debris such as old tires, car parts, and abandoned appliances were pulled from the land. Truckloads of invasive ivy and clematis as well as other vegetative waste were cleared. The Parks Department provided trucks and hauled away all the debris. The volume of detritus was astonishing!

In the summer of 1995, after the previous year’s cleanup, five hundred conifers, native plants and shrubs were purchased and planted within the newly cleared woods. Arborist Paul West from the Parks Department oversaw the planting and worked among the volunteers. These plantings occurred after two years of very arduous work. The next several years brought new volunteer work parties to the greenbelt to maintain the baby plants. As the trees and shrubs began to thrive, the community rejoiced.

In late 1995, the Council applied for and received another grant concerning the Greenbelt. This Small and Simple Grant outlined a two-part effort to educate the community about the Greenbelt.

The first part concerned the publication of the spiral booklet, “City Woods”. “City Woods” was a locally set story of native trees and plants with a brief history of how the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt was saved. It included illustrations of different plants as well as drawings of historical images.


city woods


Volunteers from the neighborhood did all the art and writing; only the printing costs were paid from the grant money. One thousand copies of the first edition were printed. A second printing, including some new illustrations, soon followed. The booklets were sold for $5 each in local bookstores and at community events.

The second part of the grant concerned the development of a curriculum to teach about local history to the students of Martin Luther King Jr Elementary School. For eight weeks, volunteers came to the classrooms of grades K-5 and taught about the woodland history of the region and the identification of plant life. Three hundred copies of the “City Woods” booklet were gifted to the school.

The next chapter will describe our current efforts to continue reforestation and about local student involvement in learning about urban forestry.


Post a Comment | Topics: Beautification, Nature

The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt: A History of Community Activism, Chapter 2


In the first chapter of the Greenbelt history, we presented the story of the initial attempt to develop the hillside along 32nd Avenue E between E Denny and E John. During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s the community rallied together to block the building of a low- income housing project. Then, after twenty years of quiet, another threat to the woods brought the community together. This rallying cry was the genesis for the current community council, which at that time was named Harrison-Denny Community Council.

In the early 1990s, a neighbor across the street from the Greenbelt contacted community activists reporting that a sign had been posted. The sign stated a lot owner’s intent to begin building a house. The owner was contacted and after hearing the community’s wish to preserve the site, agreed to sell his lot to the City. At that time, the City of Seattle had funds to acquire undeveloped land to preserve green spaces in the neighborhoods. Communities were becoming aware of a development boom and were concerned that their beautiful green city would someday be lost to construction. In those days, $6,000 was the cost of an average lot. This acquisition effort of the City has resulted in the many green spaces you see throughout Seattle neighborhoods today.

Well-known community activists and leaders, Peggy and Jerry Sussman organized a small band of like-minded neighbors and decided to reinstate a community council. The Council would enable the group to create an organized forum to present the community’s concerns to Seattle City Council. The newly minted Harrison-Denny Community Council became an instantly popular magnet and attracted up to 100 residents and business owners at each meeting. The annual spaghetti dinner was always sold out and the treasury was filled with proceeds from the tremendously successful rummage sale.




Of course, the first order of business for the new Council was the protection of the neighborhood’s only wild green-space, the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt. The few other lot owners in the Greenbelt readily agreed to sell their properties to the City. They enjoyed a generous compensation. One parcel, owned by King County, was gifted to the community.

However, one lot owner was not moved by the community’s spirit and refused to cooperate. Again, the appearance of a sign along the street alerted neighbors of an intent to develop the site. The owner had applied for his property to be re-platted from 3 into 2 lots and intended to build 2 large houses. When he realized that the community was moving against his plans, he brought in bulldozers and began clearing the property. The Council immediately contacted the City and a stop work order was issued. Subsequent hearings with the Seattle City Council resulted in a judgment against the owner.

In an unprecedented move, the City condemned the property under the right of eminent domain. This Washington State constitutional law allowed the government to acquire and preserve pieces of undeveloped property as parks or green spaces. The City was required to pay a fair market value for such land and negotiated a price with the property owner. A reduced price was paid due to the destruction of the land.

The entire community was ecstatic as the realization of many months of perseverance resulted in a new park. The 6.2 acres of the wooded hillside became officially known as the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt.

Now that the community had realized its goal of preserving the green space, the next step was to care for this property. That part of the Greenbelt history will be presented in the next chapter.


Post a Comment | Topics: Nature

The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt: A History of Community Activism


Some of our newer neighbors may view the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt as only an undeveloped hillside above 32nd Avenue. However, the preservation of this community green space developed over a period of 70 years. Many of our neighbors have worked tirelessly to preserve the only green space in Madison Valley.




During the 1930s, the city of Seattle was still in the process of paving the streets in the Madison Valley neighborhood. One specific street project involved paving a pathway directly through the heart of the woods from E Denny Way to E Harrison along what is now 33rd Avenue E. However, during the construction, the hillside gave way in a landslide bringing the work to an abrupt halt. The project was abandoned and the hillside remained intact. This is the reason that 33rd Avenue E is not a throughway.

In the 1960s and ’70s, developers approached the neighborhood with a design for a “Model Cities” low-income housing project. The developers’ goal was to construct 25-unit apartment buildings on the site. Among other radical changes, this plan called for significant excavation of the woods for a parking lot to accommodate the large numbers of prospective tenants. However, the builders underestimated the negative reaction and cohesiveness of the Madison Valley community. The first group to protest the development of this neighborhood land was the Harrison School PTA (later renamed M.L. King Jr. School). The protesting group called itself the Harrison-Denny Community Council whose boundaries encompassed the woods. The Council found much support among the Valley residents. With so much support, the organization was able to send a large delegation of residents to the Seattle City Council hearing regarding the federal Model Cities proposal.

During the meeting, there were accusations from the developers that the protestors were motivated by a desire to restrict low-income people from living within their neighborhood. However, angry African-American representatives countered that assumption with disheartening tales of living within such projects in other cities. They did not want to see another “warehouse” approach as the solution for low-income people. Appreciating the presentation of the community, and recognizing other problems with the proposed plan, the Seattle City Council ultimately refused to permit the apartment buildings.

Their recorded decision was based upon probable geological instability of the hillside. Once again, the wooded hillside was saved from development. There was one house on the hillside, which was built in the 1920s. The community relaxed, and over the next few years, lacking a burning issue to rally around, the Community Council was dissolved. However, in early 1990s another threat arose which initiated a new alarm regarding the woods. Please look forward to the next chapter of the Greenbelt history in a few weeks!

Post a Comment | Topics: Community Planning, Nature

Julia Lee Park Update



We have two wonderful volunteers from our community who have stepped up to care for the Julia Lee Park located at MLK Jr Way just south of Madison. 


Volunteers Farrel and Nancy with Parks Dept gardener Sara Franks


Today, Nancy Jordan and Farrel Oglesby braved the chilly and steady rain to meet with Parks Dept gardener Sara Franks to review their duties. They will receive close support from Sara as they learn how prune trees and care for the plants. Farrel has an association with Bailey-Boushay and is able to borrow tools from their supplies.

Nancy and Farrel will do general tidying, plant annuals, rake leaves and participate in the planning to enhance the park’s beauty. They expect to rally more support from the community. The annual Spring Clean, sponsored by the Madison Valley Merchant Association, will include the park in their agenda this May as additional support.

Thank you to Nancy and Farrel! Neighborhood citizens who volunteer their talents enhance the living experience for all of us.


Post a Comment | Topics: Beautification, Nature

Friends of Julia Lee Park Group


Catherine Nunneley is forming a Friends of Julia Lee Park Group. The group will meet a few times a year to help maintain the park, and to plant annuals in the spring and fall. If you’d like to learn more or help with this volunteer group please send your contact info to




Thank you for your help and participation in keeping Madison Valley beautiful!


Post a Comment | Topics: Beautification, Nature

Bush Students Get Muddy


Bush teacher Ben Wheeler’s elective Urban Forestry class has taken to the muddy slopes of the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt with smiles all around. It’s a popular class. Ben combines classroom learning with two days of field work per week for several weeks of two sessions a year in the spring and fall.




The students use picks and loppers to remove invasive plants such as ivy and blackberries. They create “life rings” around trees to protect them from the invasives. A layer of burlap and wood chips is then put down over the newly bare areas.

Each session has its own rewards. In spring, the students experience the bare branches of shrubs and trees at the beginning of their session and then delight in the leafing out and flowering that occurs over the weeks.

Fall’s reward is the installation of new plants. The Parks Department delivers a treasure trove of native ferns, trees, and shrubs that were ordered by the Greenbelt’s forest stewards. It’s tons of fun to plant the new forest baby plants.


Ben Wheeler working alongside a student.


Some people mistakenly think that the wild areas around Seattle can be left unattended. This attitude of benevolent neglect, however, does not promote a healthy urban forest. Committed removal of invasive plants and the nurturing of a diverse selection of new natives create sustainable flora and habitat for wildlife.

Harrison Ridge Greenbelt Forest Stewards Trina Wherry and Catherine Nunneley are immensely grateful to Ben and his students. We love working alongside them and are always astonished at the huge progress they are able to make. Thanks a bunch, Bush School!!


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Julia Lee Park Dedication


The family of Julia Lee presented the small jewel of a park to the City of Seattle today with a brief ceremony. The tiny park is located at MLK and E Madison and is a beautiful part of the neighborhood. The gathering was well attended by family and friends as well as members of the community. Julia’s daughter, Paige Lee Knudsen recounted her mom’s story and the park’s history. (Please see the previous article for details of the park’s history). She was accompanied by two of her three brothers.


The Parks Department has indicated enthusiasm for the formation of a “friends” group for the park from the community. Because the Parks Department is very stretched, citizen involvement in park maintenance would greatly enhance upkeep and appearance. More information will be posted about this volunteer work when a plan is formulated.



Post a Comment | Topics: Nature, Recreation

Julia Lee’s Park Donated to the City of Seattle


In September, the Madison Valley Park Foundation donated a local park to the city of Seattle.

Julia Lee’s Park, located at MLK and East Harrison, was established in 1993 as a memorial to Julia Lee Knudsen by her husband, Calvert Knudsen (pictured below).



jlp-calvertJulia Lee Knudsen was born in Seattle in 1925 and lived in the Washington Park neighborhood. She met her future husband while they were students at the University of Washington. Later in life she was active in the arts, and was a trustee of the Seattle Symphony and a member of the Arboretum Society of Seattle. She died in 1990 from heart failure at age 65. 

Afterwards, her husband purchased an empty lot to build a memorial. He hired architect Glen Takagi and landscape designer Ann Smith Hunter to create the park. Ms. Hunter chose mature shrubs and trees for a lush look, as well as plantings that would require little maintenance. During spring the park abounds with azaleas and rhododendrons in full bloom.




The donation was authorized by Julia’s grown children, who no longer live in the area. Their reasons for donating the park were the difficulty in upkeep, but more important, to prevent it from being developed.

The dedication ceremony takes place October 24. Julia’s children will be in attendance.

Monday, October 24
Noon to 1 PM
Remarks at 12:30 PM
Light refreshments will be served.




3 Comments, Join In | Topics: Nature, Recreation

Notable Neighbors: Catherine Nunnelly

MARCH 20, 2016 | EDITOR

Each year, Seattle Parks and Recreation recognizes outstanding volunteers with its Denny Award. One nominee in 2015 was Madison Valley’s Catherine Nunneley. 


Nunnelly was recognized for her service as the Forest Steward of the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt. The urban forest is located on 32nd Ave E between E John St and E Denny Way. She has been working to preserve the greenbelt for the last seven years.

Urban greenspaces are endangered by housing development. Catherine and other volunteers plant native trees and shrubs that will grow into healthy forests that support local wildlife and the natural ecosystem. The process of planting, weeding, and mulching takes several years before the new flora are established.


These open spaces, she explained, are beautiful when maintained, add value to the housing market, and provide a habitat for birds and other animals.

To read more about Catherine Nunnelly’s work on the greenbelt, see this excellent Madison Times article.


Post a Comment | Topics: Beautification, Nature, People

Seattle Japanese Garden celebrates Children’s Day May 31


Experience family-fun surrounded by the beautiful scenery at Seattle Japanese Garden on Sunday, May 31, when the garden hosts its annual Children’s Day event.

From 11 a.m.–3 p.m. there will be live entertainment and a variety of hands-on activity stations to give visitors of all ages an opportunity to enjoy Japanese cultural traditions. The Seattle Japanese Garden is located at 1075 Lake Washington Blvd S.

Japanese Garden 3

The performances, many of which will be interactive, include Issunboshi — The Inch High Samurai: A Modern Telling of an Ancient Japanese Story, by local puppet theatre West Cascade Puppet Brigade; an energetic taiko drumming show by youth group Kaze Daiko; an Aikido demonstration by the instructors and kids of Seattle Aikikai; and a dynamic presentation with Japanese swords by Seibu Ryu Iai-Battojutsu. 

Local group Haiku Northwest will assist kids and adults with crafting garden-inspired haiku poetry. Washington Park Arboretum Education and Outreach staff will lead nature-inspired crafts, while P.A.P.E.R. volunteers will host mini-lessons on origami, including how to make wearable samurai kabuto hats. In a nod to the Japanese Garden’s Zen roots, children will be invited to rake their own miniature sand-and-stone garden and try water-based sumi-e brush painting with Japanese Garden volunteers.

Children’s Day is a Japanese national holiday that traditionally takes place on May 5, the fifth day of the fifth month. It is a day set aside to respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness. It was designated a national holiday by the Japanese government in 1948.

Admission is free for all children age 12 and under. Ticket price for adults is $6; for youth 13 and over, seniors ages 65 and older, and students with ID, it is $4. Annual passes are accepted for event admission; with no additional charge.

For more information, including the exact time of the performances, visit


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Maple Viewing Festival at Seattle Japanese Garden on Oct. 12


Take in the breathtaking sight of maple trees ablaze in fall color at the Seattle Japanese Garden on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, when the garden hosts its annual Maple Viewing Festival.

Maple Trees

Visitors are invited to enjoy live music, hands-on nature activity stations sponsored by the University of Washington Botanic Garden and Japanese calligraphy demonstrations from Meito-kai from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There will also be complimentary tours at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. where guides will provide historical information and identify the different species of maple at the garden.

The event is free with garden admission: adults $6; youth age 6–17, seniors age 65 and older and students with ID $4. Admission is free for children ages 5 and under.

The Seattle Japanese Garden is located at 1075 Lake Washington Blvd. S. For more information, visit


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Seattle Japanese Garden Events in September


Experience traditional Noh theater in a performance at the Seattle Japanese Garden on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The garden will be open for twilight viewing at 5:30 p.m.

Munenori Takeda and the Takeda Noh Troupe will present three Noh vignettes that will give the audience a glimpse of their upcoming performance at Seattle’s ACT Theatre. The performance, entitled “The Universality of Noh: Crossing Borders on Stage,” will be on the Moon Viewing Stage in the garden with seating in the orchard. Bring a blanket or tatami mat to sit on.

Munenori Takeda was born into a family of pre-eminent Noh actors belonging to the Kanze School, which traces its roots to the 1300s in Japan. He is widely recognized as one of the most talented young Noh performers in Japan today.

Tickets are $10, and on sale now at the Garden, or by phone at 206-684-4725, or at the gate on Sept. 25. The Seattle Japanese Garden is located at 1075 Lake Washington Blvd. S, Seattle WA.

The event is sponsored by the Seattle Japanese Garden Advisory Council, the Japan World Exposition1910 Commemorative Fund, Kansai Osaka 21st Century Association, the Toshiba Foundation, the Asahi Shinbun Foundation, the Japan Arts Connection Lab, and Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Japanese Garden 2


Respect for Elders Day: Seniors Admitted Free

The Seattle Japanese Garden will celebrate Respect for Elders Day on Monday, September 15, 2014. In honor of this Japanese holiday, seniors age 65 and older will receive free admission to the garden.

Complimentary guided tours will be available starting at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. on that day.

All visitors are welcome to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in the Tateuchi Community Room at the Garden Gatehouse. The room is wheelchair accessible and chairs will be provided. Ceremonies start at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. Tea ceremony tickets are $7 per person, and can be purchased in advanced by calling the ticket booth at 206-684-4725.

The Seattle Japanese Garden is located at 1075 Lake Washington Blvd. E. For driving directions and detailed information about the garden, please visit


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Dr. Sarah’s Natural Health Tips: A Natural Outdoor Survival Kit


While exploring your local hiking trails and lake shores this summer, consider these natural products to keep handy.

Pharmaca-Family on BeachArnica

Arnica is a homeopathic remedy that uses an ultra-dilute preparation of Arnica Montana, a flower known for speeding up healing time and decreasing pain post-trauma. This remedy is helpful for bruises, concussions and pains associated with sprains/strains from physical activity.


Like arnica, apis is another helpful homeopathic. Made from bee venom, it’s useful as an antidote for bites and stings from bees and other insects, as well as any trauma that results in swelling and throbbing pain.  


In general, sunscreens fall into one of two categories—mineral or chemical. Mineral sunscreens typically utilize zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to reflect UV rays. These are not absorbed into the skin, and are stable in the presence of UV radiation. 

Chemical sunscreens use oxybenzone or avobenzone to absorb UV rays, which penetrate the skin and can cause allergic reactions and endocrine disruption. Because of this, a mineral sunscreen is appropriate for most people, but if you’ll be in the water or sweating heavily, a chemical sunscreen may provide longer and more reliable protection.

Bug Repellant

Many companies are manufacturing organic and all-natural bug sprays, rich in essential oils that repel bugs. In addition, making your own bug spray at home is quite simple: just combine 10 drops of strong essential oils like rosemary, citronella, lemongrass or eucalyptus with a natural astringent like witch hazel, in a spray bottle. This concoction is safe for adults and children alike, and you can even use it as a gentle mist on dogs! Avoid use on cats, however, as some essential oils can be toxic to them.


Lastly, if you're out and about, be sure to bring some powdered electrolytes to add to your water, as sweating greatly reduces the electrolyte concentration in your blood, which can cause headache and nausea.

The expert wellness team at Pharmaca Madison Park is always available to discuss natural products that might be right for you. I hope these simple and inexpensive remedies will help to make your summer happy and healthy!


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Mother’s Day at the Washington Park Arboretum

MAY 6, 2014 | EDITOR

Seattle Parks suggests bringing Mom to a free weekend walk at the Washington Park Arboretum. The arboretum is offering a free tour of flowering plants from 1–2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 11. The tour will wind among the many flowering plants in the arboretum. The guides will discuss some of these and also teach visitors how flowers work via fun flower dissections and discussion of pollination.


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Silly Hilly Walk/Ride is April 26th, 2pm - 4pm

APRIL 16, 2014 | EDITOR

Bob Edmiston asks that we spread the word about Silly Hilly:

We need all feet and wheels on deck for this fun route scouting day in the hilly slopes between North Capitol Hill and Madison Valley, Arboretum and Montlake. Bring your feet, bikes, kids, dogs, cameras, fun hats and silly wear.

Silly Hilly is a fun, inclusive, family-friendly ride/walk to explore potential greenway route options for the northern segment of the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway between John and 520, including part of Madison Valley and the Arboretum neighborhood.

The fun starts at the Montlake Elementary School playground, where participants will be divided into teams upon arrival. Teams will ride or walk one of four route options while taking pictures and completing a scavenger hunt along the way. We'll Stop, Doc and Tweet all along our stroll. Data collected from this activity will directly inform the Greenway route choices for Phase 3 of the 23rd Ave repaving project from E John St to SR520.

At Miller Park (our finish line), we’ll have kid-friendly games, prizes and refreshments, as well as opportunities to share ideas on which greenway route makes the most sense!

This ride is being organized jointly by Central Seattle Greenways, Montlake Greenways, Madison Park Greenways and Cascade Bicycle Club. A bike is not necessary for this fun route scouting adventure.

Bob Edmiston
Join our Google Group
@Mpgreenways Twitter Feed


Post a Comment | Topics: Community Planning, Arboretum, Nature

Seattle Japanese Garden Opening Day


First Viewing

The Seattle Japanese Garden’s 2014 season opens on Saturday, March 1 with a celebration from  11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To ensure a wonderful season, Reverend Koichi Barrish of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine will honor the Japanese Garden with the traditional Shinto blessing at noon.

Seattle Japanese Garden

This 3½-acre formal garden evokes another time and place, a unique and artistic representation of nature influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Tao philosophies. Designed and built under the supervision of world-renowned Japanese garden designer Juko Iida in 1960, the garden is a quiet place, allowing reflection and meditation through the careful placement of water, garden plants, stones, waterfalls, trees and bridges.

Admission fees for First Viewing are: $10 for adults 18-64, $5 for youths 6–17, senior adults 65+, college students with ID, and people with disabilities, and free for kids younger than 6.

For free, the community is invited to enjoy the opening of a beautiful new photography exhibit “A Celebration of Spring”  from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Tateuchi Community Room.  The juried show also on March 1 celebrates nine photographers and their fantastic views of the Garden from a spring workshop in 2013.

The Japanese Garden offers monthly tea presentations and demonstration at the Tea House and other great community events during the March – November season when it is open to the public.

The Japanese Garden is located at the south end of the Washington Park Arboretum at 1075 Lake Washington Blvd. E. For more information visit the website or call 206-684-4725.

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Stairway Walks Day


Feet First's second annual Stairway Walks Day will be held on Saturday, February 8, 2014 (coinciding with Seattle Neighborhood Appreciation Day). About 450 participants are expected to take part in 18 different neighborhood walks across Bellevue, Burien and Seattle, including one in the Washington Park Arboretum. 

Stairway Walk

The stairway routes featured on Stairway Walks Day are from Cathy and Jake Jaramillo’s book Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods. According to Neighborhood Walking Ambassador and author Cathy Jaramillo, “Seattle has a world-class network of more than 650 publicly accessible stairways, many well over 100 years old. Stairways make important walking connections to parks and transit, and they create scenic urban byways that are very fun to explore. Stairways are a valuable built legacy for us to enjoy and preserve!

From a description of the Arboretum walk:

The Olmstead Vision: The Arboretum, Interlaken Park, and Volunteer Park. In the early 20th century, Seattle commissioned the Olmstead Brothers firm to design a park system for the city. This trio of splendid parks: Washington Park Arboretum, Interlaken Park, and Volunteer Park are a formative part of the legacy they left behind. We’ll also see vibrant residential architecture that was built for a newly prospering middle class of this era. Distance: 4.2 miles: 243 steps down, 359 steps up. Walking Leader: Feet First Neighborhood Walking Ambassador, Shawn Alirez

Hardy hikers can sign up for the event at Brown Paper Tickets.


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The Wild Kingdom Around Us


Every morning I wake up and look out over the Arboretum tree tops. Sometimes there is a river of crows flowing south at dawn. They are going to work. Picking garbage. Eating grubs. Finding tasty bites where they can. A big group will gather to take a bath on the edge of the lake, splashing and talking. Another cadre will take off after the local Red-tailed Hawk in the Arboretum or the mama or papa Barred Owl. They “mob” them — screaming and yelling — to show the other younger crows who the dangerous predators are. Also, it might keep the raptors from going after the crow babies when they hatch in the summer. Some of us are “crow people” and some of us are “robin people.” The Robins worry about the mean old crows harassing all the little birds. The Crows say “that’s a crow’s job€.” I’m a Crow. I love their intelligence and noise. They are always figuring things out. It is not their fault that they might eat a small bird now and then. They eat a lot of our garbage and leftovers, too. Our neighborhood is home to so many kinds of birds, people, cats and dogs. There is room for us to live here together. We all live in our own worlds but we are entwined. For good or ill. There is a lot of drama along our neighborhood streets and in our yards and parks. If you stop and listen and look you will see. Birds and other animals looking for food, hunting, mating and nesting. In the winter at dusk, the crows fly back north to their roost where they snuggle up together with thousands of other crows and sleep safely in a group.

Penny Bolton lives in the Arboretum neighborhood and leads bird walks in the Arboretum with Seattle Audubon. The next one is 9-11am, January 25, 2014, starting at the Graham Visitor’€™s Center.

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