By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
EVERETT — This may be as symbolic a ground breaking as you can get.
Various Everett city leaders gathered Wednesday to help plant a pin oak tree to commemorate the planting of the Evergreen Arboretum’s first pin oak 50 years ago.
A similar cast of characters showed up to shovel dirt Wednesday to fill in the hole surrounding the pin oak. This cast closely mirrored the ground breakers of April 11, 1963: the city’s mayor, the city’s parks director, the arboretum’s board president, the Snohomish Master Gardener Program coordinator, added to illustrate their importance, and the president of the Everett Garden Club.
It was the Everett Garden Club who got the arboretum started, and the people who made it happen were remembered Wednesday.
“And the planting of today’s pin oak is also a reminder that we are taking the next step in helping to achieve the founders’ vision — a vision that has guided the creation, expansion and sustenance of these hallowed grounds,” parks director Paul Kaftanski said.
The tree planting ceremony was also the public nod to the arboretum’s future expansion project.
Plans are in the works for developing the last vacant piece of property in the arboretum’s south end. Plans include a new expanded rain garden, a bog garden, a native plant border, more Japanese maples and a grove which will be a meditation area.
Those plans, colloquially called “The Completion” by the arboretum board members, is estimated to cost $250,000, which includes engineering, site prep, a new path and plants. The project will be done in phases, with construction expected to be complete by 2014.
At the members’ annual meeting, the Evergreen Arboretum &Gardens Foundation pledged $30,000 to begin the fundraising drive to help complete the arboretum’s original footprint.
Though the arboretum’s footprint started with that first pin oak, that actual arboretum site got moved.
The first pin oak doesn’t stand in the arboretum property but instead is a landmark for golfers at the 10th hole in what is today Legion Park Memorial Golf Course. When Everett leaders reconfigured and expanded the golf course, the arboretum’s size was cut by more than half, and the pin oak wound up on the golf course side.
The arboretum sits beside the golf course on Alverson Boulevard. Its size is limited to about 3.5 acres since the golf course gobbled up most of the land.
Though small, Everett’s arboretum is a living museum, incorporating a sculpture garden and 10 theme gardens that inspire people to learn more about a variety of plants, from conifers and Japanese maples to perennials and native species.
Some of its 10 themed gardens include the Urban Tree Walk, Rock Garden, Northwest Native Plant Trail, Rain Garden, Japanese Maple Grove, and the 200-foot Snohomish County Master Gardener’s Demonstration Border.
The arboretum’s pavilion sits at the head of the expansion area and is where many weddings and other important ceremonies take place.
“This is a place of reflection,” Mayor Ray Stephanson said while standing in the gazebo. “It’s a place of weddings and of special times in people’s lives.”
Kaftanski called the pavilion the takeoff point for the next half-acre to the south.
“The work ahead will be an incredible gift to the Everett community. And today’s pin oak planting ushers in that beautiful future,” Kaftanski said.
Libbie Soden, board president of the Evergreen Arboretum &Gardens Foundation, reminded guests that they can go to the arboretum website http://www.evergreenarboretum.com/ and vote for the arboretum to help it win a $5,000 gift from Lamoureux Real Estate, which is offering 25 local, nonprofit organizations the opportunity to win a share of a $25,000 donation to celebrate the agency’s 25 years of service.
Voting is open until September.
Before the dirt was thrown onto the pin oak’s roots, Kaftanski reminded those gathered to “stay true to the vision” of what the arboretum is: a place of plant education but also a place that has enriched the city.
“Thank you for attending today,” Kaftanski said. “And thank you for loving this place.”
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
Contributions to help complete The Evergreen Arboretum can be mailed to Evergreen Arboretum &Gardens, PO Box 13014, Everett WA 98206; or visit the website www.evergreenarboretum.com and select “Donate”. More info: 425-257-8597.