Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jeff Hughes', Grounds Manager At Children's Hospital, Unique Personal Promise To Adjacent Neighbors

A reader told us about an interesting post on the Children's Hospital Construction Blog written by Jeff Hughes, Grounds & Sustainability Manager, for over 25 years at the Hospital.

Jeff  writes about his commitment, in his important role at the Hospital,  to being a good neighbor - making personal neighborly visits to talk about issues and concerns, advising closeby neighbors on plantings and spending time in their homes looking and trying to mitigate the hospital's presence.

And the reader said he can attest to Jeff's words, as he told us that Jeff has spent time at the reader's house, who lives very close to the hospital advising him on his existing plants, what to move, what to take out, what new ones to put in and what to add.

And before Laurelon was demolished and all the plantings removed, Jeff kindly let the reader take plants from the garden he maintained while livintg at Laurelon to his new home as a momento of the many wonderful years he spent at Laurelon. Jeff even dug out all the plants himself and wrapped them in burlap for the reader to pick up.

The reader also told us that Jeff is a genius when it comes to naming and knowing about every single plant, flower and tree. He said "It was very impressive. Not once was he stumped naming a plant in my garden."

The reader added "Jeff is a tremendous asset to the hospital, to the neighborhood in not only beautifully landscaping the hospital grounds but keeping the borders of the grounds attractive for so many Laurelhurst neighbors that are walking or driving by every day.  "He and his staff do a great job concealing the hospital as well as adding value to what we see from the outside," the reader said.

Jeannie Hale, Laurelhurst Community Club President told us that " Jeff is a valulable asset for the hospital and his committment to the Laurelhurst community is appreciated. Everyone loves him."

Here is Jeff's post published on August 23rd:

We all care about our homes, our streets, where we raise our children, property values and how neighborhoods and communities are built. That’s a good thing! Great neighborhoods and cities come from that. At Seattle Children’s, it’s incredibly important for us to be a great neighbor.

For nearly 30 years I’ve spent many happy hours talking with adjacent neighbors, hearing their concerns and working with them to address issues. (I’ve enjoyed lots of cookies on lots of front porches over those years!) I make personal house visits. I walk their properties with them and sit in their living rooms to see what they see. This way I can advise on plantings for them as well as Children’s, to mitigate our presence as much as possible. Perimeter and buffer zone plantings can be carefully chosen to screen buildings, light and even noise. If a neighbor has a concern, I’m happy to meet with them and I’ll do my best to address it. That’s my personal promise.

We frequently choose what and where to plant based upon neighbors’ needs and concerns. And we also make sure that our plantings are harmonious with theirs. We want the neighborhood to be a beautiful, restorative place for everyone.

I’m a painter too, so my visual sense is finely tuned for color, line, texture, shape and balance. All of those things come into play.

A fun bit of history: We had a group of neighbors who were concerned about some parking lot lights at night, so we planted a white cedar hedge (Thuja occidentalis) to create a border for a particular spot. I love that we were given those trees by the Seattle Mariners! They originally had them to reduce glare from the scoreboard for Ichiro and Edgar in center field. It didn’t work out as planned, so we got lucky and happily received this nice gift.

Garden Tip:
When a plant produces a lot of extra fruit, cones or berries, sometimes it’s a sign of stress. This can mean the plant is over-producing seeds to make sure it survives. Watch for this in your garden, as you see changes year to year. Plants show stress just like people!

Questions or comments? Feel free to contact Jeff Hughes directly: 206-987-3889 or jeff.hughes@seattlechildrens.org.
(photo courtesy of Hospital website)

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