Arboretum trees vandalized again

Vandals destroyed three Chilean wine palms, two monkey puzzle trees and three Gunnera Tinctoria and caused other damage in the Washington Park Arboretum’s Gateway Pacific Connections – Gateway to Chile project on May 2.

Among the damage:

•Nineteen large fronds were cut from three Chilean wine palms.

•The top 10 feet of one monkey puzzle tree was removed.

•One limb was cut from the other monkey puzzle tree.

•Twenty Gunnera stems were cut. 

Several ferns also were cut in the Pinetum, Rhododendron Glen and Lookout Gazebo area.

The damage appears to have been caused with a machete or hatchet.

The damage is very similar to vandalism that took place in the same part of the arboretum about a year ago, in which some of the same plants were damaged.

The cost of restoring the site to its original condition is estimated to be about $43,000. However, an anonymous donor gifted the amount to the Washington Park Arboretum to repair the damage, according to Susan Reichard, director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, which owns the plantings. 

The damaged plants will be replaced as their replacements are found, Reichard said, though the Chilean wine palm, in particular, is “difficult to find at the size we need.”

Seattle Parks and Recreation (which owns the property) and the University of Washington Botanic Gardens ask anyone with information about the crime to call the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) East Burglary Unit at (206) 684-4300 (reference police incident report No. 2012-134001). 

To add information to the incident report, call the SPD non-emergency number: (206) 625-5011.

The Gateway to Chile project is one element of Pacific Connections, a five-part project that carries out some of 2001 Arboretum Master Plan. Pacific Connections showcases the flora of five Pacific Rim regions: Chile, New Zealand, Australia, China and southern Oregon/northern California.

The project included restoration of the overgrown Holmdahl Rockery and created a display of Chilean plant species. Funding for the project, which was completed in June 2010, came from the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy and The Arboretum Foundation’s fund-raising efforts.

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