April 19, 2007

A new view of the Olympic Sculpture Park

Posted by: May Evans

also showcases natural beauty of the Northwest…

If you've visited the newly-opened Olympic Sculpture Park, did you notice the "land art"? Besides the eye-popping sculptures, landscape designers have created a display of the Northwest's natural flora and fauna within the Park. To display different ecosystems, the Park was divided into four zones: valley, meadow, grove, and shore. Each zone contains the plants which naturally grow in these areas in the Northwest.

The valley zone was designed to represent the lowland coastal regions. It was planted with trees such as fir, hemlock, cedar, ginkgo, and redwood, with flowering perrenials, ferns, and other groundcovers.

The meadow zone includes three large meadows which together form a kind of natural "fenceless" park. This area was planted with wildflowers and grasses that will only be cut once a year. In this zone you will find crimson columbine, pearly everlasting, and camas lily flowers.

The grove is a forest of over 180 aspens with a meandering walking trail. This zone defines the transition from city to shore, and also features the flowering currant, wood rose, and Oregon iris.

The shore, of course, runs along the waterfront, and features common Puget Sound coastal plants, including dune grass, and nootka rose. However, the landscapers didn't stop at the shoreline. SAM wanted to restore the shoreline to its original state, and that meant extending their efforts into Puget Sound, creating a habitat bench of rocks and native underwater plants. This habitat restoration aims to bring salmon to the Sculpture Park and to highlight the uniqueness of Puget Sound's coastline. SAM is also partnering with Seattle Public Utilities in a five year beach-restoration monitoring program on this site.

So the next time you visit the Olympic Sculpture Park, notice the natural beauty beneath your feet, over your head, and below the water. Artists aren't the only ones who can create a large work of beauty.

P.S. If you’re interested in more information about native plants of Washington, check out the Burke Museum’s Herbarium Washington Flora Checklist resource.

- May