USEFULYARD

Silver Strike at Swedish

One of my favorite things about learning plant names is revisiting a place where I used to live and seeing what had been there all along. It could be as simple as recognizing what had always been a common, native bigleaf maple, but this recalibration of memory is something I think about a lot.

It’s similar to working with a new material, even if it’s just 6×6″ landscape timbers. You come to know the substance in a meaningful way and will notice it in use elsewhere. This feels especially true once you’ve moved tons, literally tons, of a particular stone by hand.

Yesterday, I was killing time around Swedish Hospital, taking photos and checking out the various patches of plants. At the corner of Broadway and Cherry Street, something familiar caught my eye.

An impressive freestanding wall, in three sections, wrapped the street corner, enclosing their Carl Linnaeus Healing Garden. The stone looked like the same Silver Strike quartzite from Idaho that I’ve used at home. A little research later confirmed that the stone was in fact donated by a company with quarries in Idaho. This wall is structurally different than a retaining wall, which I made, and it used stones much bigger than a single person could maneuver. But it was cool to see the variety of stone used—color and sizes—and look closely at the spacing.

The wall is a substantial, at four feet tall and probably three feet wide at the base. The only unfortunate aspect is that the top, and maybe more, was mortared. But I’m sure that’s a practical requirement being a busy public space, and not a structural necessity.