Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nathan picked up stone for his project to rebuild the steps from the parking lot into the Japanese Woodland: Pat helped him unload

There are five primary entrances to the Asian Collections at the US National Arboretum: the entrance to the Camellia Collection; the entrance from the Parking Lot; the head of the path across from the weeping Cercidiphyllum; the head of The path to the Pagoda; and the entrance to China Valley. Three of those work pretty well; they're attractive, walkable, and inviting. A fourth, the entrance to the Camellia Collection is neither well defined nor especially inviting. It's a good site thoough, and neither of those issues presents any problems. It's a simple fix and we're on it.

If I did my math correctly that leaves one, the entrance at the south end of the Parking Lot. This one forks right at the beginning with one path leading north parallel to the road heading past a nice Ginkgo, under the large Davidia, eventually meeting up with the path from the middle entrance and taking you either to the Chimonanthus overlook or the GCA Circle. This fork works nicely. The grade is okay, surface okay, and the plants draw you in. The problem is the other side of the fork, the path down into the Japanese Woodland.

A grassy slope leads down to timber steps that have been degraded by erosion. The grass itself isn't able to handle the volume of traffic and doesn't do well. And there are drainage issues associated with the runoff from the parking lot. To top it off, it just isn't a very inviting entrance, which is unfortunate because it's the first part of the collection most people see.

We're beginning by reworking the steps and extending them farther up the hill. That will eliminate the section of turf that's killed every year. It will also redirect runoff. The stones we unloaded will be both paving and risers. Nathan will set them in a porous matrix that will allow us to direct the water movement and maybe infiltrate some fraction of it. We can begin work as soon as the ground thaws. Unfortunately winter is hanging on and at this point our starting date looks to be at least three weeks away.

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