Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It's a beautiful week at Unpaving Paradise! Iris, borage, calendula and artichokes are bursting forth. Pollinators and birds are buzzing, and appreciating the bird baths. Here are a few pictures from around the garden this morning. 



Boarge,with a ladybug friend

A carpet of greens
Anemone next to a very popular bird bath

Newborn poppy!

Those irises!

Artichoke crown


California poppies

The early bird gets the bath! Robin

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dotty DeCoster Remembered

Dotty courtesy of the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
"It is not only in a park; in some ways it is the park. This means we are on public display all the time, and it means that every time you garden you are likely to find yourself answering questions by visitors. (Plan a little extra time for each gardening session.) The park and the p-patch were organized, developed, and designed together by neighbors of the park (some of whom are current gardeners) in collaboration with both the P-Patch Program and the Parks Department. There are other features to the park besides gardening, including skate boarding, grilling, sketching, photographing, and just hanging out. So there is often company while you are gardening. Summit Slope Park is an urban oasis and we're so lucky to be able to garden there."

As you may or may not have heard, one of our P-Patch founders, Activist, Writer and long-time Capitol Hill resident passed away at the end of January.  Dotty joined the Unpaving Paradise effort in 2009 and volunteered to be on the Communications Committee in 2010.  She helped put together and completed much of the work to create a protective barrier for the Patch for our first winter.

Dotty became our site coordinator in January of 2013 after a unanimous vote.  She devoted immense energy and time to the garden working on the maintenance committee, compost committee chair, maintaining the Garden map and our communications.  She was also responsible for authoring the Park's By-Laws and was a constant advocate for the Park, the P-Patch, its attendants and inhabitants.  She will be irreplaceable.

Dotty Remembered

Dotty stitching together the garden blanket
"During  the first year of Unpaving Paradise I fondly remember seeing Dotty seated on the floor of the nearby church basement floor. She was earnestly stitching together some of the 500+ burlap coffee bean bags which were going to blanket our pristine new soil from the cold winter. It was a big job and I felt encouraged by her significant time and effort." 
-Shawn (gardener)

"She was with Unpaving Paradise from the beginning, and put up with a lot...for the sake of the garden community.  I will always appreciate her patience and fortitude."
-Jen (gardener)

"Dotty bent over backwards to hear everyone out and be as fair and impartial as possible.  She took the well-being of the park, p-patch, and gardeners - and the experiences of park visitors and neighbors - very seriously...Over the two years that Dotty was our site coordinator many gardeners told me that she did a wonderful job.  One person told me she was "the perfect person for that job."  It meant a lot to us to have her keeping the big picture of the site in mind, and I think it meant a lot to her to have a part in building and maintaining a beautiful park and p-patch in the middle of the city, in the neighborhood she spent so much of her life in, and gave so much of herself to.  She will be missed and remembered."
-Bruce (gardener)

"Dotty was a tireless advocate in the creation of both a p-patch  at Summit Slope park as well as 7 Hills Park.  Attending all of the parks planning meetings for the two parks she helped bring the community/gardens into the plans.  Once established and getting garden space at Unpaving Paradise Dotty took on a leadership role. Dotty's history of work in the community paid off and she was an important person to p-patch staff helping mediate and help the garden run smoothly and become the asset it has in the community.
We will miss her wise perspective and calming nature"
-Sandy Pernitz - Community Garden Coordinator

Dotty at a work party

Capitol Hill Seattle Remembers Dotty DeCoster

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall Harvest, Flowers and More....

-Did you know a number of our gardens donate food to Northwest Harvest and the Cherry Street Food Bank?  This year we have had a great harvest and have been able to donate quite a bit.  http://www.northwestharvest.org/cherry-street-food-bank

-Although we have a lot of vegetable gardeners, there are also some amazing flowers.  This Dahlia, grown in our garden, is just one example of the variety of flowers our gardeners have planted this year.   Please come visit but please remember to leave the flowers behind for others to enjoy!

-As the summer turns to fall, many of our gardens will be putting in cover crops, some of which will be edible.  Did you know that an edible cover crop can provide vital nutrients for your garden's soil?  http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/node/911

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair

Urban Pollination Workshop

Urban Pollination Project visits Unpaving Paradise

On Thursday, July 24th, the Urban Pollination Project ( http://nwpollination.org ) came to Unpaving Paradise and spoke with those of us able to be there at 3 in the afternoon about bees.   Gardener Jeff Stallman had organized the workshop, and Tessa Forbes lead a small group of urban pollinators in presenting.  They brought some photographs and a box of specimens, gave a presentation, and then walked us around the community garden stopping to visit pollinators in action.

I discovered that I really didn't know much about bees.  I didn't know, for instance, that bumble bees are not only the most common local pollinators but they are also the only bees that can "buzz" (vibrate) tomato flowers to gather their pollen.  Bees seem to prefer blue-violet colored flowers (although tomato flowers are yellow) and don't see the color red at all.  Bees aren't very aggressive, unlike wasps, many of which look a lot like bees.  The bumble bees we saw in the garden use holes in the ground or in tree branches to nest and only make enough honey to feed their young.  I'm not good at Latin, but the U.P. website has lots of information including the proper names of various bees.  It was intriguing to see that there are some very small bees as well as the more familiar honey and bumble bees.

The timing for the workshop (which was open to the public) was pretty much chosen by the Urban Pollinator folks themselves.  (No evening or weekend hours.)  We're hoping we can do this again next year at a time when more people can come.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Birds of Unpaving Paradise P-Patch: White-crowned Sparrow

The song of the  White-crowned Sparrows is one of the most-studied sounds in all of animal behavior; the first time I heard one singing at Unpaving Paradise was on a spring day in 2013 (our p-patch's third season), from a tree that overlooks our garden.

This white-crowned proclaimed its ownership of the area, its health, and its virility  -- incessantly -- in song. Our garden (and the small park it is situated in) is surrounded by apartment buildings, roads, and parking lots. This species of sparrow does quite well in our busy city; still, as the days went by, I couldn't help thinking that he sounded a bit forlorn.  
But suddenly one day, there was a break in the singing --- and now two White-crowned Sparrows where flying and flitting among the shrubs and trees of the park. Soon, the two birds were carrying mouths full of straw, and disappearing with them into a patch of park ground cover (Point Reyes ceanothus).  
A few days later, the steady stream of building materials were being ferried to a new location: the raspberry patch in the plot my partner Tracy and I garden!  A sparrow would dive into the thick mass of raspberry plants with a beak full of straw or twigs, the raspberry canes and leaves would shake for a bit, and them out would fly the bird, with an empty beak. 
Time passed.  There was still occasion for strident singing, as well as chasing Junco's out of the p-patch.  We resisted searching for the nest among the growing mass of raspberry plants, not wanting to worry parents or disturb babies.
Then, on June 1st, we were admiring our quickly growing vegetables, when Tracy saw a crow staring intently at a spot on the ground next to our raspberries, from the fence that borders the p-patch.  It was watching a featherless baby sparrow, on its back, flailing about, and appearing too young and weak to stand.  We also spotted a second baby on the other side of the raspberry patch, but this one was on its feet, looking older and stronger, and moving toward cover.
We decided that the second baby was ready to be out of the nest, but that the first would likely be lunch for the crow if we didn't intervene.  Parting the tangled raspberry canes, I found an empty nest, gently picked up the fledgling in my gloved hands, and placed it back in. 
We checked the nest the following day. It was empty again.
There is no way to know, but we hope the young bird we put back in the nest that day was one of the three juvenile White-crowns we eventually saw scurrying about the garden that summer.
As the raspberries leaf out and form flower buds this spring, and vegetable seeds and starts are planted; we will listen for the beautiful, and strident song, of the White-crowned Sparrow.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The P-Patch is 40 years old!

Forty years ago a group of neighborhood activists and a city council member decided that fallow farmland in the Ravenna neighborhood should stay as farmland. Thus was born the P-Patch Community Gardening Program, with the “P” commemorating the Picardo Family whose farm became this first P-Patch.  Visit the first P-Patch at http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/ppatch/locations/5.htm

Fall at Unpaving Paradise

Yes the time has come to harvest our crops and prepare our gardens for winter.   Someone, however, forgot to tell the flowers.  Don't forget fellow P-Patchers that we have one of two upcoming meetings next week.  Please refer to our calendar for times and locations.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Build your Block Challenge Finalists!

Unpaving Paradise is a finalist in the Umpqua Bank Build Your Block Challenge. Submit your vote in the Capitol Hill branch at the end of Broadway and help our P-Patch build a tool shed and composting center!

You can vote once a day until May 20.

More details on the Umpqua Bank facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/capitolhillumpqua

Thanks for your support!

Summit Slope Park Dedication

Join us Sunday, May 1 for our official grand opening celebration! The dedication of Summit Slope Park begins at noon. There will be a maypole, musicians and Umpqua Bank and Starbucks will provide some goodies. At 1:30 a Seattle Tilth Master Composter will teach us how to compost and build health soil. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Gardening Begins

A few people started planting the day after we chose our plots, but March 19th seemed to be the first big push to get plants in the ground.
All pictures were taken by Shawn Brinsfield.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Taking Care of Summit Slope: UP P-Patch Gardeners and Starbucks Pitch in to Take Care of Park

picture courtesy of Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times

This lovely picture of Judy's peas in our new park and P-Patch is part of a rather gloomy article in the Seattle Times about how the Parks Levy paid for new parks but not for their continued maintenance. While the Parks Department's continued budget woes are certainly of concern, Summit Slope Park and Unpaving Paradise P-Patch have some resources that not every neighborhood park can count on.

First is the dedicated band of volunteers that have worked to plan and fundraise for the park and p-patch over the last three years, many of whom will become gardeners at Unpaving Paradise P-Patch and so stay active in the space's continued care. Second is a pledge by the Olive Way Starbucks to start and head up Friends of Summit Slope Park, a group dedicated to ongoing park maintenance. Many thanks to both groups for being good neighbors and pitching in to keep up our little piece of public land.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THIS WED! Dec. 1st - Burlap Quilting Bee for John and Summit Park

There is an important 'burlap coffee bean sack quilting' get together tomorrow, Wednesday, all day and evening (9am to 9pm) at the nearby Seattle Presbyterian Church.

Unpaving Paradise will be amending the soil at John and Summit Park this Saturday (Dec. 4th at John and Summit starting at 9am) with rich nutritive greens and browns. When finished UP will put the soil to bed for the winter by covering it with mostly pre-assembled quilted-together burlap coffee bean sacks. UP wants to give a 'nice look' to the garden for the local community to admire over the winter months. Therefore getting the 500+ coffee bean sacks stitched together in shapes mirroring and custom fitting the designed plots is important. Not only for appearance but to quickly and deftly cover the soil without walking on the soil and compacting it.

The plan is to have pre-measured template patterns on the church floor and then to quilt together the coffee bean sacks to fit the patterns. Many of the sacks have been already stitched together in strips so as to save time on Wednesday's assembling project.

The stitching is simple and requires no previous experience. We will have all materials ready for you. And feel free to be creative by sewing in thick colored yarn!

Please come and help out even if only for an hour. There are two volunteers so far who are coming. Consider lending a helping hand.

They have free church parking on the north side of the building and you are allowed to park for free from 7 to 9 pm in the pay parking lot just across the Street (Howell). The Church (located just behind the Seattle Central Community College) is a block south of East Denny. The quilting bee will be in the downstairs Fellowship Hall; entrance thru church's north side parking lot.

1729 Harvard Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122-2227

John & Summit Bedspread Work Party - Saturday, Dec. 4th

We have a Bedspread Work Party coming up. This time we'll be spreading coffee chaff, chocolate mulch and leaves on the beds, then covering the whole thing with burlap "bedspreads" for the winter. Come join the fun!

When: Saturday December 4th, 9AM (Rain, snow or shine . . . we're working!)
What: Distributing organic coffee chaff, chocolate mulch and leaves into the garden beds, then covering it all up with our burlap bedspreads

We won't need shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows this time, just small tarps, buckets and gloves. If you have small tarps, please bring them. We have everything else you'll need to help.
We really need your help! Come and bring your friends, too! We'll be moving soil in rain, snow or shine.
Delicious coffee and treats are being provided!
Please RSVP to Barbara at gingergooddog@gmail.com so we know how many to expect.
(Even if you forget to RSVP, come garden with us!)

A copy of a delightful flyer for you to view and post is coming soon.

See you Saturday!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soil-Moving Party!

Help fill the John & Summit P-Patch community garden at the


Friday, Nov. 19 @ 11am
Saturday, Nov. 20 @ 9am

We'll work whether rain, snow or shine. Come by and help all day or just part of the day.

We have the tools, but please bring work gloves, shovels, 5-gallon buckets & wheelbarrows if you have them.

Treats and warm drinks will be provided.

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Save the Dates!

Please mark these dates in your calendar:

Friday & Saturday, Nov. 19-20

We'll be getting dirty! And we'll need everyone's help.

More Details to come soon, so check back.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Help get P-Patches included in the new Capitol Hill park

You're Help is Needed!

A new park is coming to Capitol Hill at the corner of Federal & Republican. Help is needed to get P-Patches included in the park. If you would like to get involved or stay informed, join the Federal & Republican listserv by emailing FedRepPark-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Friday, November 5, 2010

John & Summit P-Patch Nov. 2010 Meeting Agenda

We will covering these topics at the Saturday, Nov. 6 meeting:

  • Welcome and introductions

  • Being a part of the P-Patch Program
    • Individual Responsibilities
    • Volunteer Hours and Plot Activity
    • Lettuce Link

  • Status of Unpaving Paradise P-Patch
    • Shed
    • Compost Bins
    • Soil Committee

  • Next steps
    • Join a committee: Soil, Compost, Communication, Stewardship
    • Form any additional committees that might be needed

Monday, November 1, 2010

November John & Summit P-Patch Meeting

Join a work committee. Share your thoughts. Learn about the progress made so far and what needs to be done by year end.

Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at 10:00 am
Capitol Hill Public Library

Meet and grow with the community. See you there!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pictures from the 6/5 Capitol Hill Community Garage Sale

Without further ado, pictures from the Unpaving Paradise-sponsored Capitol Hill Community Garage Sale. All photos are courtesy of Dennis Saxman.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

6/5 - UP at the Capitol Hill Garage Sale!

What: Capitol Hill Community Garage Sale Day
When: June 5th, 10am to 3pm in the empty 500 E Pine Block, between Summit and Belmont. Times vary at other garage sale map locations
Web: http://www.capitolhillgaragesale.com/

June 5th is the date for the neighborhood spring cleaning extravaganza, The Capitol Hill Community Garage Sale! Come check out the recycled treasures and meet the neighbors at sale sites all over the Hill! The Community Council's Open Space Committee, Unpaving Paradise, is sponsoring the CHCGS again this year and we'd love it if you came to visit our booth at the big community sale site on 500 E Pine St. between Summit and Belmont.

Unpaving Paradise is accepting donations of goods to sell to raise funds for the upcoming John and Summit Park and P-Patch. Please consider donating. Not only is it a great way to pass on your wonderful stuff to other people, the funds go to support a fantastic community garden and green space. Even better, the donation is a tax deductible contribution!

Unpaving Paradise is seeking:
  • Tables and chairs for sale day
  • Groundcoverings for sale day
  • A canopy for sale day
  • Volunteers to help with staffing the sale (It'll be fun and you can meet the neighbors!)

If you have items to donate or would like to help out at the day of, please email us at unpaving.paradise@gmail.com.

To sign up and participate in the selling good times: Register your sale for free at capitolhillgaragesale.com and be included on the Official Garage Sale Map. Sign up for an affordable $20 community space in the empty lot at Belmont and Pine. (Hurry! Space is limited.)

Groundbreaking and more groundbreaking - Pictures!

First, I want to post a picture of the actual groundbreaking of the park that started just last week!

After two years of work and waiting, this is so exciting to see! (thanks to Shawn Brinsfield for the great picture :)

Now, here are some pictures from our groundbreaking party back in April. While we (sadly) weren't allowed to actually break ground, we did get to celebrate the imminent start of construction for our very own park and P-Patch at John and Summit.

Here's to a quick construction and a park by the end of the summer!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

4/17 - Groundbreaking Party for John and Summit Park

After almost two years of hard work, Unpaving Paradise is happy to announce the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the park and P-Patch at John and Summit.

Details will be out next week, but we wanted to give members of the community an opportunity to participate in the celebration by offering a chance to perform. We're looking for a few variety acts, we won't have access to amplification for this event, so bands can't be taken, but if you have a great juggling act or other type of non-electricity needing act, or know someone who would be interested in performing, please contact us at unpaving.paradise(at)gmail.com by Monday, April 12th.

The Groundbreaking is scheduled from 2pm-3pm on Saturday April 17th. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Buying the next park on Capitol Hill: Federal and Republican Acquisition

As you may know, the Parks Dept. has been working to acquire the empty lot at Federal and Republican in order develop it as a park. The site is near Lowell Elementary and has been empty for at least two years - it was cleared in expectation of a townhouse development that never occurred. The acquisition of Federal and Republican by Parks Dept. will go forward as long as it is approved by the City Council. The bill for the proposed acquisition will go to a vote in the full City Council session on Monday, March 29 at 2 p.m (you can see the meeting agenda here).

The Open Space Committee of the Capitol Hill Community Council/Unpaving Paradise supports the acquisition of this site for the following reasons:
  • The site is at a good location on a quiet residential street that is near the main thoroughfare of Broadway Ave. E.
  • The site is 12,000 sq.ft., larger even than the 9,600 sq.ft. park and P-Patch to be at John and Summit.
  • This acquisition will help fill a need for open space in the Capitol Hill Urban Village area (see Gaps in Usable Public Space - Capitol Hill map).
  • The site is flat, accessible, with good sun exposure, and is located where there are “eyes on the park” in order to discourage inappropriate activities.
We encourage community members to either attend the City Council meeting on Monday to give public comment or send emails encouraging City Council to pass this measure and authorize the purchase of the land at Federal and Republican. Public comment will take place during the first 15 minutes of the City Council meeting; you may want to come early in order to sign up for 2 minute slot to speak.

Emails for the Seattle City Council:


John & Summit Update: Bidding is open and Diamond Parking Lot is closed!

Two notes of note from the Parks Dept. concerning John and Summit Park:

From Kelly Davidson, our John and Summit Project Manager

Bids opened yesterday for John & Summit. We received nine bids, four of them where below the engineer’s estimate with all additives. This means that we will award all additives; sidewalk repair, ROW planting and retaining walls for the p-patch area.

We are working with DEA to determine that the current low bidder meets all of the qualifications necessary to initiate the contract. Once that is complete we will move forward with the contract and narrow in on a Notice to Proceed Date.

I’ll provide updates as I have them. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

~ Kelly Davidson (kelly.davidson(at)seattle.gov)

From Joelle Hammerstad, Parks Dept. Communications:

Seattle Parks and Recreation will permanently close the parking lot at 200 Summit Ave E. on Friday, March 26, 2010 at 3 p.m.

Parks purchased this .21 acre property in 2007 with funding from the Pro Parks Levy and is happy to announce that construction is moving forward for this new park on the western slope of Capitol Hill.

The park project develops the existing parking lot into a park that includes a terraced walkway and P-Patch gardens.

Click here for the website with details of the park development project.

~ Joelle Hammerstad (joelle.hammerstad(at)seattle.gov)

Monday, January 4, 2010

A name for John and Summit?

First of all, I'm delighted to write that John and Summit P-Patch is to be named "Unpaving Paradise P-Patch" in acknowledgment of the work we have all done to make this community garden space happen. Unfortunately, the naming of John and Summit Park is going to be a little more complicated.

Earlier this week, Parks sent out a press release announcing that John and Summit Park would be named "Perugia Park" after Seattle's sister city in Italy. About a day after the naming press release went out, Parks decided that would not be the official name for John and Summit. This was due to community concerns about the naming a park after Perugia on the heels of the recent verdict in the criminal case in that same city involving Seattle resident Amanda Knox (you can read the whole story here).

Unpaving Paradise is going to use this episode as an opportunity to do two things. First, we will petition the Parks Naming Commission to consider a name that is more connected to the Capitol Hill community. While Perugia is a fine city and a fine name for a park, at present the only thing community members associate it with is murder and scandal. We'd prefer that the Parks Naming Commission use our entry for a name, "Paradise Park" after Unpaving Paradise, in order to associate the space with all the dedication and hard work the community put forward in order to make the full John and Summit park design a reality.

Next, we will reach out to the Seattle-Perugia Sister City Association (proponents of the name "Perugia Park") to see if we can work together on the next green space that Parks is to acquire on Capitol Hill. The next set of Pro-Parks acquisitions are set to occur in the next year or two, with planning and development to follow in a year or two after that. In a few years time and with the partnership of the Seattle-Perugia Sister City Association, the name "Perugia Park" will bring to mind the work that the SPSCA does with the Capitol Hill community to build a great park rather than the site of a contentious murder trial.

If you'd like to support our proposal to name John and Summit "Paradise Park", please email a letter of support to Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher (timothy.gallagher@seattle.gov) and Parks Naming Commission liaison Paula Hoff (paula.hoff@seattle.gov).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rundown of this week's meeting about John and Summit Park

Hong and I met up with Kelly Davidson (Parks coordinator for this project), Craig Skipton (consultant on this project from Mithun) and Casey Hildreth (our Seattle Dept. of Transportation point person for possible street vacations) earlier this week to talk about how the John and Summit project has progressed over the last few months. Here's the exciting news:

* According to Casey Hildreth of SDOT, there are many different ways that we can improve and pedestrianize John St. in order to better incorporate it into the park. Some possibilities include roadway narrowing/closure, parking removal, and the installation of a landscape strip for use as further gardening space.

Any work on John St. would need to be a second stage of the development for the park - this WILL NOT be covered by the planning or budget that Parks has currently for John and Summit. However, it is still an excellent opportunity to pursue in the next year. If anyone is interested on working on this, please email Unpaving Paradise at unpaving.paradise@gmail.com.

* John and Summit park is at 95% design, and will go through the Parks Dept. 95% design review very soon. Once that's finished, Mithun will be able to complete the design for the park and p-patch, and then the project will be ready go out to bid. The John and Summit project will likely go out to bid in January or February 2010, and groundbreaking is anticipated for March.

* One of the final design details that was presented to us was the addition of a recycled steel border around the P-Patch area to delineate it from the lawn and landscaping areas - up until now the construction of any bed borders would be left up to the community. This border would be included if the John and Summit project comes in under bid, which is a distinct possibility since the bad economy makes bidding a lot more competitive on good sized projects like this one. The use of recycled steel is a good sustainable and aesthetic choice: it is a good reuse of a long lasting material and it matches the steel support walls already in the design along John St.

I don't know about you, but now I'm certainly looking forward to March!

~ Jen Power
Chair, Unpaving Paradise
Capitol Hill Community Council


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Park(ing) Day Seattle Prize Winners!

Tastiest prize: Zen Cakes and Zines (Park(ing) Day Central Park, Bluebird gift certificate)

image courtesy of gravitysalad

Most Multi-Modal: Bike Works (Columbia City, ZipCar gift certificate)

Most Playful: 4-PLAY (Park(ing) Day Central Park, games from Gamma Ray Games and Bucephalus Games)

Greenest Park: Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Wallingford, gardening books from Spine and Crown Books)

Best Execution: Park N Play by Perkins + Will (Downtown, Victrola coffee and shirt)

Most Original (Grand Prize): air.stream by Signal to Noise (Park(ing) Day Central Park, $200 and custom trophy)

image courtesy of gravitysalad

Congratulations Park(ing) Day Seattle prize winners! More pictures to come!

(If not otherwise attributed, pictures are courtesy of the lovely Jen Power, Unpaving Paradise's fearless leader/photographer)