Edmonds Backyard Habitat Tour

This past weekend I attended the Puget Sound Bird Fest in Edmonds, Washington. Part of the schedule was a wildlife habitat demonstration garden as well as a tour of five backyard habitats. The demonstration garden was the first stop and has it’s own story which I will post separately about soon. This post will focus on the five very different backyard habitat gardens I visited.

Edmonds is a small town, just north of Seattle, which sits on the Puget Sound in Snohomish County and is probably the best known as the residence of travel host Rick Steves.


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Seattle University Campus Habitat

Seattle University sits on 48 acres in the middle of Seattle, a five minute walk east from the middle of downtown. It’s in between the First Hill and Capitol Hill neighborhoods and is surrounded by hospitals, medical centers, stores, restaurants and housing. The campus has had a long commitment to sustainability dating back to the 1980’s when the college hired Ciscoe Morris, who is now a local gardening expert and celebrity. Ciscoe ended pesticide use by releasing beneficial insects on the campus which was successful and in turn launched an entire pesticide-free program. The success…

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A Tale of Two Courtyards

These two courtyards are in my neighborhood in Seattle and present dramatically different landscapes. One is in the center of a U-shaped, tall building and faces north while the other is a short building with an L-shaped courtyard and opens NW. The first one has minimal trees, only small ones in the courtyard and entrance while the second has large trees that cast heavy shadows over much of the courtyard. The first is full of flowers, some native plants and some minimal structural plants of hedge-type plantings. It’s a really lovely space that most people may miss because it’s…

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Floating Habitat Islands

What started as an artists sketch four decades ago has now become a working product. In 1970 artist Robert Smithson, perhaps best known for his ‘Spiral Jetty’ earthwork, created a sketch showing a tugboat towing a vegetated island on a river and called it “Floating Island“. During his lifetime he was never able to see the idea realized, but in 2005 a team was able to create the island and it toured the shores of Manhattan. There’s a great multimedia feature from the NY Times about the construction of the piece. The islands…

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Interview:: Project Nighthawk

The Nighthawk is a bird that used to be abundant throughout the US but has been in decline in recent years. There are many potential reasons for this, among them is a change in the construction of roof tops. Nighthawks have been known to nest on roofs with gravel tops, but since most roof construction is now tar, they no longer nest on roofs. There are several reasons for this:  the heat of black roofs, the flatness causes eggs to roll around, and black roofs provide no camouflage. One project, in New Hampshire, is conducting a study to see…

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Wildlife Hi-Rise

The Wildlife Design Competition from the Holbeck Urban Village in Leeds has just closed and the winners will be announced next month. This is the second year of the competition and before the winner is announced, let’s take a look at last years winner. A wildlife high-rise skyscraper was the winner last year by Garnett Netherwood Architects. The 40′ tall structures are made with reclaimed building materials and sit along a canal. The tower is aimed to provide habitat from all kinds of fauna including butterflies, bats and birds. The judges liked the…

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