Enjoy Bellingham's legacy of park trees

Webster defines legacy as 1: a gift by will, especially of money or other personal property; 2: something received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.

Bellingham's parks, and the trees in them, are truly gifts from the past.

Bloedel Donovan Park was created in 1946. The silver maples that provide so much shade there are 60 years old.

If you need a cool place to walk on a warm afternoon, the shade of the trees in Whatcom Falls Park (created in 1908) and Cornwall Park (created in 1909) are other options. I have noticed while walking in Cornwall Park there is usually a group of people playing Frisbee golf.

Bellingham truly has a unique community, and I am so grateful that a long time ago its citizens decided that having parks was a priority, and still is.

Another park good for walking in the shade is Sehome Hill Arboretum. Five acres were donated in 1893, and another 95 acres were purchased in 1919 by the Park Board for $2,001.75.

Imagine what 100 acres on Sehome Hill would cost today. Those 100 acres are priceless.

In the winter, when I am trying to get all the sunshine I can, the new Squalicum Creek Park is my first choice. Over 100 of the young trees in that park are a little bit of legacy that Grateful Dogs (and friends) are leaving for generations to come.

Grateful Dogs appreciates the donation from Birchwood Garden Club that helped purchase the trees, which were planted in October 2008. That summer, temperatures here reached a whopping 96 degrees. All of the trees survived because we installed gel packs at the base of the trees that provided a slow drip of water all summer long.

Boulevard Park is one of our newer parks, created in 1980. Now that there is a coffee shop (with a walk-up window) there, the park is even more popular. Walking in a park with the bay on one side and trees all around is so soothing. A lot of people go there to watch the sunset.

One of my favorite parks is Elizabeth Park, a great place to study tree identification. A map online at www.theeldridgesociety.org shows the park's trees numbered to correspond to an inventory of them. John Wesselink, a retired postal carrier, created the inventory that lists the trees' common and botanical names.

Land for the park was donated in 1884, and the trees were planted circa 1901. My favorite tree in the park is the copper beech (Fagus sylvatica forma purpurea). Going to Elizabeth Park just to gaze at the trees should be on everyone's "bucket list."

To learn more about the history our parks, go to the library for "A History of Bellingham's Parks," by Aaron Joy.