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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Nov. 28, 2023

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City of Mukilteo is big on tiny parks

You can pick a pear at one that's the size of its only tree

5 Photos
The 160-year-old Fowler Pear Tree at Barbara Brennan Dobro Park in Mukilteo still bears fruit.
The 160-year-old Fowler Pear Tree at Barbara Brennan Dobro Park in Mukilteo still bears fruit. (Annie Barker/The Herald) Photo Gallery

MUKILTEO — The pear tree is about as tall as the park is wide.

Barbara Brennan Dobro Park measures 23 by 45 feet. It has gone through the decades largely unnoticed.

It is a short jog from Mukilteo Speedway, tucked below Second Street on Mukilteo Lane. It faces train tracks and sits next to a wastewater pump station.

That might not sound too inviting. But it is an oasis with a bench, a picnic table, incredible shade, water views, pretty flowers and a chorus of seagulls — that is, until a freight train rumbles by.

The shade is from the famous Fowler Pear Tree, a state-registered historic landmark.

“It’s really about that pear tree,” said Matt Nienhuis, Mukilteo’s public works director. “We have arborists look at it.”

The tree is the namesake of white settler Jacob D. Fowler, a merchant often credited with naming the town Mukilteo, a Native American word translating to “good camping ground” or “narrow passage,” depending on the source.

In 1863, Fowler planted what might be now the oldest pear tree in Washington. Before a windstorm in the 1990s, it stood 35 feet tall and spread nearly 45 feet.

The site was donated by Fowler heir Barbara Brennan Dobro. Mukilteo Way Garden Club members cleaned up the grounds and made a little park around the tree, planting a barberry hedge for protection and azaleas.

“We call it the Fowler Pear Tree Park,” said Pattye Snyder, co-president of the 90-year-old club. “Our people have just taken care of it since the beginning. Every month, we have a couple of people come in and weed and prune and plant new flowers. Pretty soon, we are going to be replacing a couple of rose bushes because they are looking tired.”

The club cloned Fowler cuttings to grow three more trees, two at Rosehill Community Center and another at Pioneer Cemetery.

The three Fowler offshoots are thriving but too young to bear fruit, Snyder said. But the senior tree keeps popping out pears.

“It is amazing that it is 160 years and still producing pears,” Snyder said. “The thing is almost hollow. It was struck by lightning years ago, and it’s only half a tree and a trunk.”

Nienhuis said the tree is not for DIY cuttings by the public. But the fruit is fair game: “When they’re ripe, if you want, come pick a pear,” he said.

Just don’t get too excited.

“They are not really tasty pears,” Snyder said. “We throw them to the birds.”

There are three other tiny parks within easy walking distance of this hidden gem.

Totem Park, on Second Street near Mukilteo Speedway, is a mere triangle with a carved pole. The park was formed in the 1940s when the viaduct was built over the railway. According to the city’s historical society, a pole carved by Cub Scouts in 1960 was replaced 30 years later by a story pole topped by a bald eagle that was carved by a high school principal.

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