Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Palm Crazy September 24, 2008

Filed under: neighborhood gardens,trees — greenwalks @ 11:36 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

While back in my old neighborhood of Frelard, Seattle (combo between Fremont and Ballard, sometimes known as Balmont) last week, I made it a point to visit this spectacular collection of hardy palm trees growing on both sides of the street along a minor thoroughfare.

Seattle palm street

What seems to have started at one house, a big colonial set up off the street that looks like it was airlifted from Jamaica, has spread to neighboring properties up, down and across the block. They are inter-planted with other non-natives that can take low water such as eucalyptus, agaves and fescues, as well as a few more typical Northwest species like mahonia (Oregon grape).

Fremont street garden

I didn’t really get a great shot of the profusion, since it was a bad light day and I was in a hurry (excuses, excuses). Suffice to say that the number and variety are stunning, especially in this climate. I have never seen any of these trees wrapped, so they must be hardy varieties not in need of special care for our zone (8). The fruits on this one were really impressive, hanging in several bunches each over a foot in length.

Palm fruit in Seattle?!

It seems like people either love or hate palms. Personally, I find them a bit spiky and unfriendly-looking, plus I wonder what bugs and other critters are lurking in their crowns (one I sat under in California this summer supports a family of large roof rats, ew). Their out-of-placeness in Seattle can be a little jarring when you see just one, but planted as they are in this case, with such infectious joy, they provide passers-by with something really fun and different to encounter on their walk, bike or drive by. Plus, once the gray skies are here to stay, it’s nice to have a reminder of sunnier climes.


In the category of “yes, you can find pretty much anything on the web,” someone has posted photos of practically every palm tree visible from the street in Seattle. Who knew there were so many?!

For more information about selecting and growing hardy palms, click here.

Palm fronds


6 Responses to “Palm Crazy”

  1. Megan Says:

    Fascinating that the trend spread down the street.
    I tend not to like palms in Portland either a lot of the time, they have to be sited just right. But, I did plant one,Trachycarpus Fortunei, in my early days when I didn’t know what I liked, and it ended up looking pretty good with the neighboring plants. But I might not be objective. πŸ™‚

  2. Aerie-el Says:

    Palms certainly do give a garden, especially one in the pacific northwest, a different look. Personally I’m a fan of a more casual variety rather than formal structured rows. But I give whoever planted these credit for what looks to have been a lot of work to complete, and for choosing some drought-tolerant greenery with a variety of textures and sizes. They nicely break up the blandness of the road and sidewalk.

  3. Cynthia Says:

    Palms, agave, eucalyptus, are you trying to make me homesick?? That sounds an awful like a street you would find in Southern California with those plants! Well, minus the Oregon grape that is. πŸ™‚

    Growing up surrounded by palms I never could understand why some people love them so much. I don’t really find them all that attractive or perhaps I just got tired of seeing them. Whatever the case may be they certainly remind me of “home” now.

    That sounds like a fun street to explore.

  4. Racquel Says:

    I didn’t realize you could grow Palms in Seattle. How fun that the entire street joined in on the planting. It looks really great.

  5. Curmudgeon Says:

    Hey I think you were visiting our street! You should have called and we could have met for coffee! LOL! We live in Frelard/Balmont and those picks sure look like our neck of the woods. Were they taken near Ross Park? I recall being so shocked to see palms here when we first arrived. I absolutely love the sound they make when the wind is blowing through them. But I do find them a bit too apikey. They are definitely different.

  6. greenwalks Says:

    Megan –

    Yeah, I don’t know what the story is, but the whole block seems to have gotten into it. My photos do not do it justice, this place is just so wild and crazy! I’m sure your palm looks just right. πŸ™‚


    Aerie-el –

    I agree that the formal row is not the most creative part, I failed to get a good shot of the profusion across the street where the real action is. Palms in Seattle, kind of a nutty concept but these folks have really put their heart into it, you can tell! Gotta respect a gardening fanatic whatever their specialty/obsession is, right?


    Racquel –

    There are actually quite a number of hardy palms up here, you wouldn’t think it but that one web site proves it!


    Curmudgeon –

    Yep, that’s where I was (and used to live). Maybe we should do an in-person blog exchange, like I whack some weeds with the Wenches and you go Greenwalking with me?! πŸ™‚

    – Karen

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