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Ache and Loud Motor play benefit show at Garden House 11/16

November 1st, 2013 at 11:20 pm | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

November 16 brings a fundraising show to the Garden House, raising funds to benefit Mobility Builders, a local non-profit that provides wheelchairs to under-privileged children in developing countries. The bands Ache and Loud Motor will perform. Doors are at 6 p.m., and the $25 admission fee includes a few drinks and some snacks.

The Garden House is at 2336 15th Ave South.


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Elnah Jordan, Eric Verlinde, and Tom McElroy perform at Garden House Blues

April 17th, 2013 at 5:27 am | 2 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Elnah Jordan.

Elnah Jordan.

The Garden House Blues series returns this Friday, April 19, when Elnah Jordan, Eric Verlinde, and Tom McElroy perform at the Garden House, 2336 15th Ave. S. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the concert starts at 8 p.m.

Vocalist Elnah Jordan performed the role of the legendary Bessie Smith in San Francisco for 2-1/2 years in The Evolution of the Blues, and later starred in Street Dreams, an Off-Broadway musical drama. She has since built a reputation as a powerful singer in jazz, R&B, gospel and blues. Pianist Eric Verlinde‘s fifth CD, Firewalker, collects some of his more than 150 compositions ranging “from Latin jazz to swinging hard-bop.” Jazz guitarist Tom McElroy will open the show.

Before the show begins, Beacon Bento will be available with meals delivered to your table from Inay’s Kitchen and Travelers Thali House for $10 or less per meal.

For more info, see the website.


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Heritage tree removal still stirring up conflict

April 1st, 2013 at 4:40 pm | 13 Comments | Posted by Andrew Hamlin

Blue Atlas Cedar, by J and R Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons.

The February removal of the heritage Blue Atlas Cedar tree at North Beacon Hill’s Garden House continues to generate controversy. Two local arborists who examined the Blue Atlas contacted the Beacon Hill Blog to give additional testimony about the tree’s condition and the events preceding the tree’s removal. The arborists expressed concern that statements by Garden House trustee and rental agent Carolyn Nickerson in an earlier Beacon Hill Blog article (“Removal of Garden House Blue Atlas Cedar surprises community,” Andrew Hamlin, March 3) inaccurately represented the professional advice given by the arborists and the resulting decisions made to remove the tree.

In the March 3 article, Nickerson stated:

“…We hired an arborist to climb and inspect the entire tree to evaluate its health and possible remedies [for $400]. It was his opinion that the tree needed to be thinned, bolted, tied in various places to keep it from dropping other limbs. (I think that estimate was $1000, maybe less.) Before making a decision we had a second arborist inspect the tree and give his opinion and write a report [on] what he thought should be done. On a danger scale of 1-10 the tree was a 9. Part of the tree hung over the neighbors’ house, part over the sidewalk and street and part over our lawn area where children and adults gather for various occasions.”

Local arborist Oliver Bailey said in an email to the blog: “We [Bailey and Sue Nicol] are the arborists who actually evaluated the tree and recommended preservation. The most damning inaccuracy [in the original story] is the ‘9 out of 10’ scoring on the tree evaluation (false). The entire Heritage Tree Committee and others are group emailing about how we scared the Garden House into cutting the tree down and this was devastating news for us both.”

Bailey continued: “I brought [Sue Nicol] in after completing my report to objectively review my report, inspect the tree and attach a letter stating her second opinion. She is a highly decorated and respected Consulting Arborist. She’s one of Plant Amnesty’s highest referred Arborists. In a nutshell she thought I was exactly right about the tree. Because I proposed a viable preservation plan in my report she added another idea which was to fence off the area directly below the tree on Garden House grounds. However, that was not an option on the public sidewalk, street, or neighbor’s property, all of which were directly under these massive 30″ diameter limbs (yes, diameter, not circumference!)”

Bailey added: “[An inaccuracy] was that I aerial inspected the tree for $400. It was actually $160. Garden House is a non-profit with steep monetary problems. I was always particularly gentle with them.”

Sue Nicol, in her own email, said: “Oliver asked me to assess the tree to confirm/reject his aerial inspection of the Cedar in question in terms of risk. He apparently does not have the Risk Assessment Certification, which I do. I reviewed Oliver’s report and met with him on the site to look at, and discuss the tree. I then wrote my report, backing up his assessment. We both felt that the tree was actively failing, was in a location with significant targets underneath it, had a decayed leader at the top which was supporting a great deal of weight, and needed several actions taken to reduce its risk.

“I wrote in my report,” Nicol continued, “that if the client refused to take on those actions, that the tree needed to be removed. I felt, and still feel, that this tree could not be left to fend for itself. The likelihood of continuing branch failure was too great to do nothing. I did not meet with the clients, since they were Oliver’s clients. Oliver was my client and he paid my bill.”
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Removal of Garden House Blue Atlas Cedar surprises community

March 3rd, 2013 at 9:14 pm | 2 Comments | Posted by Andrew Hamlin

"Hard to watch this beautiful old tree being cut down limb by limb," tweeted Beacon Hill neighbor @n_e_x_u_s when he posted this picture on February 16.

“Hard to watch this beautiful old tree being cut down limb by limb,” tweeted Beacon Hill neighbor @n_e_x_u_s when he posted this picture on February 16.

Beacon Hill residents were surprised, and some of them dismayed, to find late last month that the Garden House at 2336 15th Avenue South had lost one of its prominent outdoor fixtures. The Blue Atlas Cedar, designated as a Seattle Heritage Tree, had been cut down by the Garden House, headquarters for the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs.

According to Carolyn Nickerson, trustee and rental agent for the Garden House, the Blue Atlas Cedar had presented trouble going back to 2011, when “during some windy weather a large branch on the east side of the tree broke off and fell on the lawn. We didn’t think anything of it and had it chopped up and disposed.

“Then in 2012 without windy weather a huge (maybe 30′ long) [branch] broke off, fell to the west across the iron fence, sidewalk and to almost to the center line of traffic. Luckily it missed a parked car by a couple of feet, didn’t hurt any pedestrians or passing traffic. We called the city for help and they came, stretched out some yellow tape and told us they had no funds for trimming/cutting or removing the branch. We hired someone for approximately $600.00 to remove it.

“After the second branch fell,” Nickerson continues, “we hired an arborist to climb and inspect the entire tree to evaluate its health and possible remedies [for $400]. It was his opinion that the tree needed to be thinned, bolted, tied in various places to keep it from dropping other limbs. (I think that estimate was $1000, maybe less.) Before making a decision we had a second arborist inspect the tree and give his opinion and write a report [on] what he thought should be done. On a danger scale of 1-10 the tree was a 9. Part of the tree hung over the neighbors’ house, part over the sidewalk and street and part over our lawn area where children and adults gather for various occasions.”

“Apparently when a tree is very old,” she finishes, “it starts ‘sloughing’ its branches. This is not caused from wind or rain/snow but a natural way of a tree living its latter years. Since each of these branches weigh more than 500 lbs we had to consider the liability and danger it imposed on the community. Our neighbors to the south have asked that we trim all branches from hanging over their land. All in all we decided that we needed to consider cutting the tree down because our insurance wouldn’t cover damages that would be incurred by hurting someone or something through this process.

“After discussing our options and liabilities the board voted unanimously to pursue cutting down the tree.”

Local tree and plant expert Arthur Lee Jacobson first became aware of the Blue Atlas in 1999, when it was nominated as a Heritage Tree. He wrote the description for the commemorative plaque that went with it.

“It was not sick,” according to Jacobson, who adds, “Atlas cedar limbs break, on some specimens often; but their foliage is usually dense and healthy except if the spring is sopping wet and there is too much summer irrigation. Then they can present a gaunt, unhealthy look.”

Asked whether the tree should have been cut down, Jacobson replies, “No. The decision motives were not shared with me. But I did read e-mails from experienced, careful, arborists who looked at the cedar, who judged that with careful pruning it could remain a safe and valuable asset rather than a liability. If the Federation of Garden Clubs based its removal decision on grounds of insufficient money, then that could have been addressed via fundraising. If the decision to remove was based on a report written by an inexperienced arborist, that generated fear — while cooler, wiser counsel was ignored, then that is a pity.”

Beacon Hill neighbor Robert Hinrix isn’t happy about the Garden Club’s decision. “I put quite a few hours into trying to save the tree, having written to the head of the board of the Garden House offering to put together volunteer arborists to maintain it, and to do fundraisers to help them pay for it. They did not respond positively. I spoke with other arborists who contradicted what their hired arborists had said.

“I also spoke with Arthur Lee Jacobson who wrote the book on Heritage Trees, and Cass Turnbull from Plant Amnesty. The tree was not sick at all, but Blue Atlas Cedars do lose branches when mature and need ongoing maintenance. The Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs had little interest in the maintenance of Beacon Hill’s heritage tree, and was only concerned about insurance and financial issues. The easiest, simplest thing for them was to cut it down.

“For me,” continues Hinrix, “it is an allegory for how we’ve lost all control of an important resource in our community (the Garden House itself). Don’t expect them to plant another tree to take its place. I’m glad I was out of town when it happened.”

Hinrix adds, “There are complex issues associated with insurance, the neighbors, various camps of arborists, a somewhat dysfunctional city commission that is responsible for Heritage Trees in Seattle, and the misplaced priorities of the board of the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs. I do believe it points to the need for the community to work hard to find a way to increase our control over the Garden House, to make it a better resource for our community. If we don’t, we could find it sold (or a portion of it, one of the lots) out from under us…”


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Los Flacos bring sounds from Latin America to the Garden House

November 28th, 2012 at 7:04 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Los Flacos (courtesy of flacosmusic.com).

The monthly Sunday Folk Club brings Los Flacos and The Lentils to the Garden House (2336 15th Ave. S.) this Sunday, December 2, at 7 p.m.

Headliners Los Flacos (Juan Sérbulo, Tim Wetmiller, Abel Rocha, and Diego Coy) use a variety of instruments to create their own acoustic versions of songs from Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean.

Opening band The Lentils features Jill Friedberg and Carlo Cennamo on accordion and saxophone playing a short set of Latin-flavored waltzes.

The Garden House opens for Beacon Bento (dinner delivered to your table from Inay’s Kitchen and Travelers Thali House) at 6 p.m., and the music starts around 7. Tickets are $7 at the door, free for kids under 12.

Upcoming Folk Club performers this winter include La Famille Leger and Peckin’ Out Dough on January 6, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifters and Stefanie Robbins on February 3, and Fasten With Pins and Jo Miller on March 3.


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Have you seen a whale lately?

July 20th, 2012 at 5:08 pm | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Perhaps you were having a coffee at The Station when suddenly a whale appeared:

Or perhaps you were at Victrola when a whale swam by:

This is all part of the Save the Beacon Whale campaign on indiegogo, to raise $500 to restore the whale weathervane from the historic Garden House. The weathervane was damaged last year in a windstorm. For more information on the fundraiser and how you can contribute, see the website.


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Hillbettys headline June Folk Club concert

May 29th, 2012 at 5:14 pm | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

The Hillbettys.

Next Sunday, June 3, “all girl bluegrass band” the Hillbettys are headlining the monthly Garden House Folk Club concert. The Hillbettys — Paisley (upright bass), Alyse (banjo), Milly “Racoon” (fiddle), and Kate (guitar) — will play “mountain music for the masses” at the Garden House, 2336 15th Ave. S. Dinner is at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, free for kids.

John Shaw will open the show. Shaw is a songwriter who has written 60 songs on commission over the last three years, many of them as a fundraiser for Beacon Hill International School’s PTA. He is also writing a book on the the visionary tradition in America’s national anthems, due out in late 2013.

Dinner, or “Beacon Bento,” is now available at Garden House concerts. Local restaurants Baja Bistro, Inay’s Kitchen, Taqueria Luisa, and Travelers’ Thali House will provide a variety of ethnic dishes, including mole enchiladas, pork Adobo, Tunga burritos, and Janti thali as take out meals to enjoy outside in the fresh air before the show or cabaret-style during the show. All meals are $10 or less. See the menu here.


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Musicians and gardeners meet at Garden House this week.

January 23rd, 2012 at 7:06 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Does music make your garden grow? Find out this week, when events for both musicians and gardeners will take place at the Garden House on 15th Avenue South.

On Tuesday, January 24 at 7 p.m., ROCKiT Community Arts presents this month’s Tuesday Folk Club show, featuring Percy Hilo and
Friends, who are described as “original songs to sing, laugh and think with in Americana folk stylings.” Opening the show will be Betty Jean Williamson and Jack Lenoir. (Make note—next month’s show will feature Golden Tree Story, with Jean Mann opening.) Admission is a $5 donation, and kids get in free.

The following day, Wednesday, January 25 at 7 p.m., the Beacon Hill Garden Club meets. The local chapter is the newest chapter of the Federation of State Garden Clubs. At this week’s meeting, the group will look at seed catalogs to make a group order from multiple companies. All are welcome to visit, and it is $10/year to join the club.

The Garden House is located at 2336 15th Ave. S.

Vines growing in the Beacon Hill P-Patch during warmer weather. Gardening time is coming soon! Photo by Dapper Lad Cycles in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool.


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Potluck, music, and more at Garden House tonight

July 19th, 2011 at 6:30 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Tonight, July 19, the folks from ROCKiT space are bringing three events to the Garden House on 15th Ave. S.

From 3:30-6 p.m. is the Hi-Chair Happy Hour, a BYOB-B (Bring Your Own Baby and Beverage) social for new parents and their little ones. The Happy Hour is held every third Tuesday. The suggested donation is $5.

Afterward, from 6-7 p.m., there is a free community potluck, followed by a family music night from 7-9. The music event is “pay what you will,” and all neighbors are welcome. Bring instruments, hum or sing along, or just enjoy the music.

The event will also feature supervised kids’ games on the lawn until dark.

The Garden House is located at 2336 15th Ave. S.


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Many options for family fun on the Hill

April 18th, 2011 at 6:04 am | 7 Comments | Posted by Melissa Jonas

Beacon Hill is a great place for people of all ages and features many opportunities for entire families to have a great time. Here are a few ideas to get you started—please share your favorite places/activities in the comments!

ROCKiT Space is thriving after the relaunch in January. Headquarters are now in the Garden House at 2336 15th Ave. S. (directly behind Baja Bistro; parking in the alley, on street or just walk there) and events are happening there and all over Beacon Hill.

High Chair Happy Hour happens every third Tuesday (the next ones are on April 19 and May 16) from 3:30-6:30 p.m. BYOB (baby/bigger kid). It’s good, cheap fun on Beacon Hill: $5, or free for ROCKiT members. No alcohol sold, but you’re welcome to bring your own (as well as other food/drink) to share.  Must be accompanied by a minor to attend.

Tots Jam, a ROCKiT Space favorite, is held at El Centro every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Bring your toddler and $5 (free for members) and rock with Suzanne.

The Beacon Hill library has story times for toddlers, preschoolers, and the whole family. Toddler story time, Spanish story time, and Bilingual Kaleidoscope are only a few of the choices.

Thanks to our neighbors’ successful efforts to improve the parks on Beacon Hill, we have three (3!) awesome new playgrounds on Beacon Hill.

The play area at Jefferson Park has been open for several months. Don’t let the fences surrounding the future Beacon Mountain deter you—head over and check out the many ways your kids (and you) can climb, swing, hang and rock. Several refreshment options are available in the south end of our business district, including the Jefferson Park Field House, Victrola 3 and El Quetzal (now serving beer; just sayin’).

Jefferson Park also boasts a fantastic indoor playground on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Inflatables, riding toys, push toys, balls, and tons of other ways for toddlers to tire themselves are available for only $2!

Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park at El Centro de La Raza is now open to the public (closed during posted hours to protect the safety of the children enrolled in programs on site) and features new playground equipment for a variety of ages. Amenities such as benches for parents and a permanent chess board are in the works. I highly recommend a visit to The Station (directly across the street) before or after your park visit.

Beacon Hill Playground has new play structures, too! Swings, slides, a secure tunnel, and other fun await at our northernmost playground.

I’m sure I”m missing something—please share your ideas/events in the comments!

A few of the ways to keep busy in the playground at Jefferson Park. Photo by Joel Lee.


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