Pacific Northwest Public Gardens

Weekend Tour

Visit two of the Pacific Northwest’s most spectacular public gardens made possible through public-private partnerships: the Olmsted-designed Washington Park Arboretum and the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Experience cultivated gardens, restored woodlands, and natural wetlands that offer ideal opportunities to see the best of what the mild maritime climate has to offer plant and public garden enthusiasts.

At the Washington Park Arboretum, we explore the five eco-geographic regions of the Pacific Connections Garden to learn about the diversity of plant species around the Pacific rim. Discover stunning hydrangea, magnolia, and rhododendron collections while learning about ethnobotany, and Coast Salish uses of native plants. Along the way, we will see Union, a stunning large-scale sculpture comprised of over 6,000 wood-framed cast resin parts suspended dynamically from two large nets spanning more than 100 feet. Created by one of the world’s leading contemporary artists, Seattle-based John Grade, who was inspired by a fallen western red cedar in Seattle’s Discovery Park.

At Bellevue Botanical Garden experience how a community can come together to create a diverse and impactful landscape. The Garden is operated by the City of Bellevue in partnership with the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society and 9 other partners. The Garden is a free 53-acre site visited by over 400,000 people annually with the mission to display the best plants and gardening practices for healthy, beautiful Northwest gardens. Guest will also learn about the garden’s history, partnership model, and how volunteer and community support make the Garden a success.

The Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle and the Bellevue Botanical Garden across Lake Washington in Bellevue both operate in public-private partnerships with shared management and financial responsibilities. Throughout the day, we will discuss the challenges these and other public gardens face including the role of public agency support, and maintaining mutually effective relations with the nonprofit organizations that support each garden. In addition to addressing ongoing capital and maintenance funding needs with limited income streams to sustain these public gardens which have no entry gates and no entry fees. Plus, the a continued need for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts so garden staff and boards can more closely reflect and better serve the communities in which the public gardens are located.

Tour Leaders

James Gagliardi

Director, Bellevue Botanical Garden, City of Bellevue, WA

Christina Owen

Director, University of Washington Botanic Gardens