Garden Tripping in Seattle
Photo by Dee Nash
Seattle is a wonderful town for garden tourism. The city boasts great restaurants, a waterfront featuring beautiful views, and a monorail for a ride back into history from which you can survey the Space Needle from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair and the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Seeing Seattle from a garden perspective gives you plenty of places to visit in every season.
Your first stop in any season should be the Washington Park Arboretum. It is 230 acres of beautiful, unusual plants located on the University of Washington grounds. It is free and open to the public except for those areas managed by the City of Seattle such as the Japanese Garden. The Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden is a delight even during colder months. It contains plants known for fragrance, leaf color, berries and stems.
When is a garden also a museum? When it’s the Chihuly Garden and Glass located in the Seattle Center at the base of the city’s most photographed icon, the 1962 World’s Fair Space Needle. The Chihuly Garden and Glass is designed to show the changes in glass artist Dale Chihuly’s blown glass artwork over his long and accomplished career. It is 17,000 square feet of indoor galleries, as well as a garden designed and installed by Seattle's AHBL Landscape Architecture. To be kinder to the environment, developers upcycled the existing building as the Exhibition Hall. Because Chihuly loves conservatories, a 40-foot-tall, glass and steel house is, for many visitors, the delightful culmination of a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. Chihuly wants his work to rise out of the garden so plants were chosen to enhance and embrace his sculptures. The garden has four monument structures and is filed with glass transitioning throughout. The Sun is a personal favorite with its twisting fireball rising out of a black mondo grass landscape.
Still longing for some garden views? Take a walk around the fifty-three acre Bellevue Botanical Garden, open daily and free from dawn until dusk. Bellevue focuses its collection on plants that thrive in the Pacific Northwest so they feature fuchsias, an alpine rock garden, dahlias and a rhododendron glen. Though Bellevue Botanical Garden is undergoing renovation, visitors shouldn't be dissuaded: the garden is still open during the revamp.
If you’re an art lover, check out the Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum. Larger-than-life pieces of sculpture by some of the art world's brightest stars are the focal points of four different archetypal Pacific Northwest garden landscapes. You can also take in a view of Seattle’s waterfront as you walk the grounds of this sculpture park that is free and open to the public 365 days a year.
Seattle isn’t just for summer either. It’s early in the gardening year, but if you visit Seattle in February, don’t miss the Northwest Flower and Garden Show held at the Washington State Convention Center. Where else could you see six acres of indoor show gardens from the area’s top designers? The Marketplace is a great spot to get garden ideas or purchase anything that strikes your fancy from dahlias to shrubs and even fruit trees. There are also 110 free gardening seminars with speakers and garden celebrities from all over the U.S. Ticket prices vary depending upon whether you want a day pass, a multi-day pass, or are coming with a group. The best way to visit may be to take a bus downtown, and avoid parking issues.
While garden tripping in Seattle, you may want to do a little retail therapy. Seattle is full of great retail garden venues, but Ravenna Gardens is one of the best and does a great job displaying the latest in everything garden and home.
Also, don’t miss nurseries like Molbaks Garden & Home in Woodinville, WA. Molbaks is open from 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. every day and has a cafe on site open until 5:00 p.m. It’s a bit of a drive, but well worth it if you have the time and space in the garden for a little something more.
So consider garden tripping in Seattle. There's so much to see.