Carl S English Jr Botanical Garden,

Headquarters flanked by two Alaskan Yellow Cedars
Headquarters flanked by two Alaskan Yellow Cedars

Carl S English Jr Botanical Garden, on the ground of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.  Shipping channel locks designed by Hiram M Chittenden in 1906.  I came to see the garden which has an especially unique origin.   English came to the Army Corp of Engineer base in 1931 to work as a groundskeeper for the Army parade lawn.  Carl & his wife were both botanists and loved plants.  DSCN6311He wanted to plant things to create a garden around the parade ground, but there was no expectation to have a garden on the base and no money for plants.  Still he and his wife would travel out to the local forest and around the area and collect seeds.  Then he would grow the plant in a small container from seed.  He began to transplant the small starts into the landscape.  He then had more local seeds than he could grow so he began writing letters offering seed exchanges with other gardeners.  He sent letters all around the world and exchanged seeds.  He even obtained the seed for a dawn redwood, a native of the northwest but extinct there. He received a seed for the tree from China and he reintroduced the tree in Oregon.DSC_0241 After 20 years the plants had grown into quite a lovely garden.  It was the late 50’s and local garden clubs were admiring and helpful in the garden.  College horticultural students came to study the over 500 plant species and 1500 varietals of plants Carl and his wife had added to the garden.  The top brass of the Army Corp engineers came too but not to admire but to demand that the large lawn parade field be returned to its original state.  Carl had clearly followed the “act first, ask permission later philosophy” in growing his garden.  DSCN6308The grounds were cared for, but enriched and loved way beyond a plain lawn.  Fortunately the beauty of the place and the community attachment to the garden allowed tempers to mellow and the garden continued to grow.  When English retired in 1974 after 43 years in the job the garden stood as a masterpiece and is the only garden in all 195 army corp engineer locations.   Guess the top brass stopped that nonsense!DSC_0248

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