On a recent trip to Seattle I was amazed at the health and vigor of the landscape around every corner. Most shocking were plants being used in public spaces. Who would ever expect to see hostas or climbing hydrangea planted outside our BART stations? I know it rains a lot in Seattle, but I saw the benefit of all this water on my latest trip as the plants were about to explode into Spring. Everyday was refreshed with a sprinkling of rain that cleaned off the buildings and sidewalks and plumped up all the plants to create a lush and verdant landscape, even in the crack of a sidewalk. Plants I am used to seeing around the Bay Area, like Heuchera and Iberis were triple and quadruple the size! Red and yellow tulips were in every front yard and being used in container planting at the nearby shopping center. The container plants didn’t seem to be suffering from container syndrome…scraggly plants that struggle to find enough water and nutrients in their confined prisons.
Hanging gardens adorned even simple metal rails dividing pedestrian and vehicular traffic that looked so indulgent. It was apparent that a lot of care goes into the public planting spaces in Seattle. But the plant selection and vigor come from the heavy doses of water Seattle is known for. I won’t change my watering times or start inserting Hostas frivolously into Bay Area gardens, but I will try to visit Seattle more when I need a dosage of guilt-free planting indulgence.