Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Never Stumped

“Plant down, we have a plant down!”

This is a walkie-talkie call you don’t often hear at Pacific Science Center.

But when wet soil, snow and rough winds toppled one of the Shore pine (Pinus contorta) on our grounds below the Tropical Butterfly House, the Horticulture crew quickly dealt with the problem. They immediately removed the damaged tree, which was obstructing foot traffic around it.

Life Sciences’ Horticulture team, Jeff Leonard and Maida Ingalls, is probably most famous for growing stinky lilies, bamboo, coffee trees, colorful planters and the many wonderful flowers and foliage plants in the Tropical Butterfly House. But some days are less about exotic flora and more about hard, but careful work.

To deal with the downed tree, they first removed all branches and cut down the tree trunk. This left a two-foot stump. Next they hauled away all the debris and cut the trunk into fireplace size pieces. Ever the recycler, Maida took the logs to help heat her home next winter!

Then came time to deal with the stump and attached root ball. This is the hard part! Digging out a root ball that weighs in the neighborhood of 300 lbs. took time, care and the proper tools to get it all out safely. NOTE: No horticulturists were harmed in the making of this story.

Once the stump was removed, it was clear that it still had the wire enclosure and even a bit of burlap from its original planting. This planting occurred before either of our horticulturist worked here. This is a great reminder: when planting, liberate the roots and let them spread out into the soil where they will be living. This tree’s roots were prevented from expanding, which may have contributed to its destabilizing in wet weather.

Finally, Jeff and Maida backfilled the planting hole, leveled the soil, and raked out all leaves and other debris. Arborist wood chips provided by Seattle Tree Preservation were used as base mulch. Soon cedar play chips will be blown over this and adjacent planting beds as the finishing touch.

We are most thankful to Portal to the Publics’ Tamara Yurkanin for documenting this feat of strength through her photojournalism. Thank you again Tamara!

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