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What? Garden Art at a Sewage Plant!

Updated on February 1, 2013

Amazing Hidden Grotto In Waste Water Treatment System Park

People give me quirky looks when i sing the praises of a local wastewater park's public art. With each visit I find it more enthralling.

This is just a snippet of one of my favorite parts of the park. Below you'll fine my favorite photograph from the artwork, which comprises the lower grotto and the uppermost platform and stone brook.

This park is incorporated into the project of reclaiming runoff water from this urban area.

The mechanical part of the park pretreats the water and then it runs naturally through ponds and streams until it exits the park into a nearby river. Walking around inside and outside the park is a delight.

image credits: All photos are mine, unless otherwise credited.

Inviting Entrance to Wastewater Park - looking eastward

Walking along the sidewalks that border three sides of the park, even glancing eastward at just the right point, it is unlikely that anyone would imagine what might be found by taking the branch that leads away from the street. This is the view around the first bend, that maintains seclusion.

See the far end of the curving bench (below) at mid-right of this shot.

Curving Bench Hugs Enclosure Walls

Vision of Grotto Pavers Looking East - curving bench above is at the right side of the grotto floor

Refreshing Raised Fountains - on the right as you enter the grotto

There are fountains and pools on either side of the enclosing grotto, giving one a feeling of being surrounded by tiny waterfalls. The sounds encircle the visitor in muffles of water..

Looking Back Through the Grotto - looking westward

Once inside the grotto space I can't resist turning directly around to see the view behind me. The street is completely closed off from sight.

Imagine how warm and enfolded one feels when standing in the middle of the grotto. From this view we look back at the entrance, and see some of the benches and cave-like hollows with fountains on the north side of the grotto.

The space extends back behind the close barrier wall at the right front part of the picture. And on the left side it also expands to form a semi-curcular area, where the raised fountain sits. Some day I'll take my video camera and do a 360 degree shot.

Loveseat Sized Sofa - right side of grotto, past a raised fountain and pools

The artist managed to give the sofa a feeling of softness and warmth. She has draped a pebble afghan across the top of the back edge.l


The curving planter on the loveseat's left end holds a planter. You see only the outside of the arm, with the inside wrapping around like the actual curved upholstery of a living room sofa.

Mosaics Abound Everywhere

Curving mosaic motifs undulate through the grotto space. This is a photograph of the back walls of a bench, on the walls opposite the loveseat.

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The Complete Pebble Mosaic Handbook
The Complete Pebble Mosaic Handbook

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Top Entrance With Running Brook

The irregular brook is actually an illusion made of an open metal weave, but it sits over a freely running stream of water. It's thrilling to experience on a hot summer day.

Sentinels Surround Upper Paved Brook Entry

Tall stone pillars punctuate the borders of the stonework paving the top entrance.

Water Wetlands and Trails - in Waterworks Garden

Now it is impossible to see this vista because the trees and bushes have grown up to give the place a real feeling of wildness and spontaneity.

Plants such as those shown below color the landscape, and make the grounds dwelling spaces for a variety of fauna. The trail winds around two-thirds of the park, the other sides bordering on the mechanical side of the working reclamation project, a part of King County's Water Treatment facilities.

The Public Art creator is Seattle artist Lorna Jordan, in collaboration with Jones & Jones, the landscape architecture firm.

A Forest of Snake Grass

Memories of an Alaskan childhood come flooding back in whenever I see a patch of snake grass. This plant flourishes along the park's trails.

To me, this plant, with its warm embracing global forms, is a metaphor for the grotto

Let's Have some debate about Public Art.

Is public art a waste of time?

No, I like it even when I don't understand it.

No, I like it even when I don't understand it.

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    • Pat Goltz 3 years ago

      It depends on the art. Some is atrocious. That is a waste of money. Since the taxpayer pays for it, they at least owe it to the citizens to provide something beautiful. This is breathtaking! Thanks for sharing.

    • Colin323 3 years ago

      No, No, NO! It is a testimony to human imagination, creativity and altruism. Vive public art!

    • Itaya Lightbourne 4 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Art is never a waste of time as far as I'm concerned. Public art is wonderful in that it can affect so many people in such a positive manner.

    • Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Definitely no. I enjoy them very much.

    • MayaIxchel 4 years ago

      Never!! May it never go 'out of style'!

    • kgdunst 4 years ago

      it builds the society's character. defo do more

    • Jack2205 4 years ago

      Public art is very important and beautiful.

    • Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      No way, it's wonderful! I think the more beauty that is available for us all to share, the better. This looks like a great place to visit!

    • DeniseDurham2011 4 years ago

      Public art is one of the best things! Everyone gets to enjoy it, marvel at it, talk about it...

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Art has so many expressions....let's express ourselves creatively!

    • Kristen 4 years ago from Boston

      Art is always important and never a waste of time.

    • Laraine Sims 4 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      It supports art-making of many kinds, from single artist commissions to artist collaborations with engineers, designers, and communities. It aims to provide for the creation of art that expresses the spirit, values, visions, and poetry of place that collectively define a city or town. I think it is wonderful!

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Art is never waste of time

    • wedpittsburgh lm 4 years ago

      Art is never a waste of time. (As I wrote this I just realized almost everyone else wrote this exact same thing!) It really is a way to spruce up an area that people might otherwise not take notice!

    • SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      Art is never a waste of time. It enriches our lives even if we don't really notice. All major public works, road building and so on, have a percentage of the cost put aside for public art. I think it is an excellent idea.

    • darciefrench lm 4 years ago

      Art is never a waste of time :)

    Yeh, even if I see it, I don't notice it anyway.

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      Living Sculpture

      This is a companion piece to the horse's hoof. I love the contrast of velvety soft new-growth green moss with ancient rusty iron.

      Waterworks Remnant of Construction

      To my mind this is a hoof of the mammoth horses used to construct this park of many pools and fountains. It sits alongside the path that runs on the east side of the complex.

      Wastewater Park Poll

      Did you like my tour of this Public Art Garden?

      See results

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      This rock garden mural brightens and refreshes your favorite room.


      Share Your Thoughts About Public Garden Art

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        • LiteraryMind profile image

          Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

          Is the park in Seattle or just the artist? This is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

        • lesliesinclair profile image

          lesliesinclair 4 years ago

          @LiteraryMind: it's in Renton, WA, just south of Seattle.

        • jlshernandez profile image

          jlshernandez 4 years ago

          Beauty indeed is in the eyes of the beholder. Thanks for sharing.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          nice lens papier.

          check this out:Apace

        • SheilaMilne profile image

          SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK


        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          This is really wonderful. I am a staff of university of Nigeria, Nsukka

        • LaraineRoses profile image

          Laraine Sims 4 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

          Congratulations for having this well-deserved purple star lens on the front page! This is a beautiful example of public garden art. Angel Blessings**

        • mysweetjane lm profile image

          mysweetjane lm 4 years ago

          looks great!

        • profile image

          JoshK47 4 years ago

          Looks quite wonderful - thanks very much for sharing! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

        • profile image

          olmpal 4 years ago

          Thatâs a great topic for a lens! What a delightful place! The designers did a wonderful job! One wouldnât believe that this beautiful park is a Sewage Plant! Beautiful photos too!

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          What a delightful Public Garden Art experience you give us, I think I'd go early and have to make a day of this wonderful sensory delight. I saw your picture of snake grass and it took me back to the country, we call it horse tail in northern Minnesota and that's the female plant you have that beautiful picture of. Congratulations on you purple star and front page feature!

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Returning to share on FB.

        • profile image

          Colin323 3 years ago

          Great photography on this lens : a wonderful example of altruism through public architecture

        • lesliesinclair profile image

          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @Colin323: Yes, Seattle's rife with lovely public art. Have you seen the Seattle Public Library downtown?

        • Pat Goltz profile image

          Pat Goltz 3 years ago

          I wish I could visit this place and stay a long time. We have a wastewater garden here, too, called Sweetwater Wetlands. It is a prime birding area in the state. However, it doesn't have any art. Maybe someday!

        • lesliesinclair profile image

          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @Pat Goltz: Yes, the Seattle garden is across the street from a huge wild bird preserve and many birds also make their homes in the garden.

        • smine27 profile image

          Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

          I find beauty in the mundane or easily overlooked things in the world. I really enjoyed this beautiful lens.

        • lesliesinclair profile image

          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @smine27: We are the lucky ones, so glad you found pleasure there.

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