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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

October 26, 2012 at 7:57 PM

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Dinosaurs of the ivy league

fremontdinosaurs-m.jpg

Sketched Oct. 16, 2012

For most of the year, the Fremont topiary dinosaurs blend with all the greenery along the Burke-Gilman Trail. But as fall comes and the poplar trees nearby shed their leaves, you can't miss mama and baby Apatosaurus.

The living sculptures have adorned the bottom of Phinney Avenue North since the late 1990s, when a group of "Fremonsters" brought them over from the Pacific Science Center. Michael Osterfeld said they paid $1 for the bare metal structures, and it has taken more than 12 years for the ivy to grow over them.

Osterfeld, one of about 20 "dinosaur wranglers" who keep the topiary nicely trimmed and shaped, said it originally included electric and plumbing systems to make the ivy grow from the inside when it was at the Science Center.

None of that is needed now. The ivy was planted at the legs and is very easy to maintain, said Osterfeld, who is hopeful mama Apatosaurus' head will be all covered within a year.

dinosaurwranglemike-m.jpg

Osterfeld's attachment to the dinosaurs is not coincidental. The land where we are standing was once part of a mill founded by his grandfather, J. R. Burke, in the 1930s.

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Another dinosaur wrangler, Randy Cryer, points to the top of mama Apatosaurus to explain how he stands knee-deep in the metal structure when it's time for pruning, drawing a lot of attention from passersby. "It looks like I'm riding the dinosaur," he said.

What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!


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