I first met John several years ago when we started the still continuing effort to save the grove of trees on the west side of Ingraham High School. A neighbor described meeting John pushing a wheelbarrow down Meridian Ave N. and noted he was someone interested in saving trees.
John’s wheelbarrow activities are a frequent enough occurrence that the top of the arboretum sign has a carving of John literally running with a wheelbarrow – a sign of the intensity and commitment of his efforts to create the Arboretum at Twin Ponds Park.
When John started digging to plant trees he found the soil filled full of concrete blocks and asphalt. In digging a hole back in 1994 he and his son Max wound up removing over 60 concrete blocks over several days time. The activity was unusual enough that it prompted a neighbor to call the police who came to check out “the activity of the homeless people who were in the park building a shelter out of concrete blocks.”
Since then John has continued to work in the park removing blackberries and other invasive plants in addition to unwanted building material. Ten years ago he founded the Stewards of Twin Ponds. The Arboretum has now seen the addition of some 100 new trees.
Some of the tree species present include several giant sequoias, a small grove of coastal redwoods, a native Garry oak, a Forrest fir native to China and a forty foot tall grand fir which once was a Christmas tree.Twin Ponds Park overall has some 450 trees.
Recently students at the nearby Evergreen School completed a bird census and found some some 40 different species present in the park.
Twin Ponds Park is located South of N 155th st It is between Meridian Ave N and 1st Ave NE. The Arboretum can be found on the west side of the south parking lot located on 1st Ave. NE.
Here are two quotes John read at the dedication ceremony of the new sign:
“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Proverbs
“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.” Anton Chekhov
I looked up the Chekhov quote, which continues, “Forests create climate, climate influences peoples’ character, and so on and so forth. There can be neither civilization nor happiness if forests crash down under the axe, if the climate is harsh and severe, if people are also harsh and severe…. What a terrible future! Chekhov wrote this in 1888, some 132 years ago. It is just as relevant today.