Volunteers install rain garden in Arlington's Legion Park | SLIDESHOW

ARLINGTON — Close to three dozen volunteers gathered at Legion Park on Saturday, April 14, to help install a rain garden by the new restroom and visitor information facility on Centennial Trail.

City of Arlington Natural Resources Manager Bill Blake explained that the city was commemorating Arbor Day not only through the installation of this rain garden, which should allow potentially problematic runoff from the new building’s roof and walkways to soak into the ground and be filtered by the soil and plants, but also through the workshop on rain gardens that immediately preceded the installation, during which attendees learned how to install rain gardens in their own yards.

Linden Mead, of the state Department of Natural Resources, took advantage of this event to present city of Arlington representatives with the city’s 10th annual Tree City USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation.

“Arlington is a real star child in this program,” said Mead, who noted that, in order to qualify for the Tree City USA title, the city had to establish a tree care ordinance, a tree board or department, a community forestry program with annual expenditures of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. “We go everywhere from upland to tideland to focus on forests, but the forestry of the urban community is no less important, because these are the trees that we live with every day, in our parks and on our streets.”

Not only were Blake and city of Arlington Recreation Manager Sarah Lopez present to receive the award, but so was City Council member Marilyn Oertle, whom Blake credited with providing significant support for their efforts.

The rain garden installation itself was made possible not only by the city of Arlington and the Snohomish Conservation District, but also by the Department of Ecology, with generous donations from the Arlington Garden Club, Western Nursery Sales, Garden Treasures Nursery and Banksavers. Stacy Aleksich of the Snohomish Conservation District supervised the planting of more than 70 trees and shrubs by two Snohomish County Master Gardeners and a crew made up heavily of many members of the same local family.

“This is fun chaos,” Master Gardener Sharon Nichols said during the warm, sunny day, as volunteers from ages 4-70 found space-saving ways to work the same small plot of land at the same time. “The biggest value of a project like this is that it shows the community that storm water can be collected through a low-maintenance and very beautiful garden. It’s gorgeous and it helps the environment.”

Belle Lasalata, 13, was but one of a number of members of the Lasalata clan to don gloves, grab gardening tools and pitch in that day, which Belle saw as providing a service to their own hometown.

“This way, the city doesn’t have to hire a bunch more people,” said Lasalata, who’s taken part in similar plantings both as part of other community projects and around the house. “We drive by here all the time, and I’ve been into this sort of stuff for a long time.”


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