Pacific Northwest Public Gardens

Weekend Tour

On this 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.

Along the way, we will explore the five eco-geographic regions of the Pacific Connections Garden to see stunning hydrangeas and magnolias; visit the Native Knoll and upland forest to learn native plant identification, ethnobotany, and Puget Coast Salish uses of native plants; see Union, a stunning large-scale sculpture comprised of over 6,000 individual cast resin parts framed in laminated ceiba wood suspended dynamically from two large nets spanning more than 100 feet between eight trees 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; and sample a 16th-century beverage made from the root of a woody plant.

These public garden success stories have not come without their share of challenges including the State of Washington’s role at the Arboretum, maintaining mutually effective relations with the nonprofit organizations that support each garden, 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, and the need to continue to diversify non-profit agency boards to more closely reflect the communities in which the public gardens are located. 

The Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle and the Bellevue Botanical Garden across Lake Washington in Bellevue both operate on shared management and financial responsibilities.