The Fruit of Issaquah’s Gilman Boulevard

In 1985, Issaquah’s Gilman Boulevard was an up-and-coming area with little-to-no vegetation along the side of the road. It was up to the city council to decide what decorative trees or shrubbery should adorn the road.

Ultimately, the council voted to line the north and south sides of the boulevard – from Front Street, west toward 19th Avenue Northwest – with a cornucopia of fruit and nut varieties.

In the 30 years since the edible landscape was planted, Gilman Boulevard has undergone many changes. New developments have come along, forcing the removal of some of the trees.

“I think the most significant change would be along the south side of the roadway where the filbert trees are (near O’Reily Auto Parts),” said Matt Mechler, parks and recreation open space steward for the City of Issaquah. “Many of those trees have been removed but there still are a few filberts remaining in this area.”

The city urges people to come and take what they want, otherwise sanitation issues can arise from the fruit left behind.

“The threes are so big now,” Mechler said. “They produce so much fruit it doesn’t get picked and it falls to the ground which can attract insects.”

Mechler said the city will collect the fallen fruit, but hopes more Eastsiders will get to the fruit before that happens.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to visit the Gilman Boulevard Edible Landscape:

*Don’t eat the fruit directly from the trees; wash before eating. The fruit may be pesticide free, however they are not free from vehicle pollution.

*Check produce for signs of pests, if a particular piece has any punctures, it may have been infiltrated by insects.

*When pulling fruit from the trees, take care not damage the trees in any way.

*Do not climb trees to obtain fruit, only pick what you can reach.

*Gilman Boulevard is a very busy street, be sure to cautiously use appropriate crosswalks, be aware of your surroundings, and keep an eye on any children or animals in your company.

*Research. Produce will become ripe in spring, summer, or fall depending on the variety, know which varieties are at the peak of ripeness before you go so you don’t pluck fruit from trees before they’re ready.

More than 25 fruit and nut varieties can be found along Gilman Boulevard:

Italian plums
Shiro plums
Stella cherries
Earliblue blueberries
Chehalis apples
Stanley plums
Coville blueberries
Sam cherries
European filberts
Flemmish beauty pears
Meteor cherries
Peach plums
Lodi apples
Nanking cherries
Service berries
Madeline angevine grapes
English walnuts
Aurore grapes
Collins blueberry
Gravenstein apple
Spartan apple
Melrose apple
Poorman gooseberries
Bartlett pears
Rugosa rose

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is an assistant editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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