In case you missed it – our Friday mention of those palm trees, just planted at Alki Beach Park (hat tip again to Connie), were the most-discussed WSB story of the weekend. We promised to follow up today with Seattle Parks, whose Joelle Hammerstad responded, first checking out the comments and then putting together this Q/A:
Q: Why are there palm trees at Alki?
A: The palm trees planted last week are part of a larger project to improve and beautify the landscape along Alki Beach. For the past several years, Parks landscape architects and plant horticulturists have been working to add interest to the landscape along Alki. Among the many projects undertaken include planting sea grass, arranging interesting and attractive and driftwood along the beach and adding an element of beach-y whimsy with the addition of palm trees in this location.
Q: How many trees are there?
A: There are 9 palm trees located in this landscaping area. The two most recent trees planted were by far the most mature. There are seven smaller palm trees grouped with the two larger ones. The addition of these last two trees completes the landscaping plan for this area of the beach.
Q: How much did the trees cost?
A: The trees were free. L & B Nursery in North Seattle donated the trees to Seattle Parks and Recreation. We received the donation last year, but only put them in the ground recently. After receiving the donation, we allowed their root system to mature a bit more before planting them. Mature palm trees are sold for around $125 a foot. We estimate that the donation for these trees is between $2,500 and $3,000.
Q: These trees are not native to the Pacific Northwest. Why did Seattle Parks and Recreation plant them?
A: These trees are native to China. They are a temperate species called Windmill Palm trees, and come from a region of China that gets colder than Seattle. Seattle Parks frequently plants non-native species in Seattle’s parks. When park visitors encounter a flowering tree in Seattle’s parks, they are usually seeing a non-native species. These include flowering cherry trees and dogwood trees, but also non-native ornamental trees, such as Japanese Maples. Nearly all the flowering annuals that bring bright colors to flower beds in the summer are non-native.
Q: The trees will impair the view.
A: Palm trees have an inherently small canopy. As they get more mature, they simply get taller. Their small canopy will grow higher and higher and impinge less and less on views. They will reach a height of about 35 feet.
The palms in our photo are near Alki’s 53rd Street Pump Station.