Look no further than these magnificent Seattle-area gardens, some of which you know and some of which are best-kept secrets!
Volunteer Park Conservatory (Capitol Hill)
Seattle Japanese Garden (Madison Valley)
Rose Garden at Woodland Park Zoo (Phinney Ridge)
Parsons Garden (Queen Anne)
Kubota Garden (Rainier Beach)
Center for Urban Horticulture (University District)
Bellevue Botanical Garden
Dunn Gardens (Broadview)
University of Washington Medicinal Herb Garden (University District)
Carl S English Jr. Botanical Garden (Ballard)
Streissguth Gardens (Capitol Hill)
Bloedel Reserve (Bainbridge Island)
South Seattle Community College Arboretum
Seattle is blessed with some of the best weather on the face of the planet for growing trees, plants, and flowers. It’s no wonder there are so many beautiful gardens around town that you can use as inspiration for your own landscaping project. From Bainbridge to Bellevue and all points in between, we’ve selected the best of the best to feature here. Enjoy!
The Bellevue Botanical Garden features cultivated display gardens, natural wetlands and a woodland trail. Bellevue Botanical Garden displays the best plants and gardening practices for healthy, beautiful Northwest gardens. With 300,000 visitors a year, the garden is one of the city’s most popular destinations – the perfect place for a quiet moment to enjoy the beauty of the Northwest. Docents offer guided tours, providing details about the plants and displays.
Bloedel Reserve is an internationally renowned public garden and forest preserve. When you visit Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas, woodland trails, formal gardens and soothing water features. Prentice Bloedel, the founder, was colorblind and as a result, was more interested in varying textures and shades than he was in vibrant flowers. You’ll be impressed with all the different shades of green you will find; it’s acres upon acres of a green patchwork quilt with color sprinkled throughout. (Photo courtesy of Bloedel Reserve website.)
During the 43 years working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Carl S. English, the Army Corps’ first horticulturist, transformed the barren lawn left after the construction of the Chittendon Locks in Ballard into a garden worthy of serious study. Carl collected specimens of trees and flowers from around the world, including the rare dawn redwood – eight specimens grow in the garden today, along with more than 500 species and 1,500 varieties of other plants from around the world. (Photo courtesy of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ website.)
The Center for Urban Horticulture, opened in 1984, is now part of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG). It includes a 16-acre landscaped site with buildings and gardens, and the 74-acre Union Bay Natural Area, which provides publicly accessible wildlife habitat (more than 200 bird species have been sighted there) and an outdoor laboratory for UW research. The newly rebuilt Merrill Hall, the first certified “green building” on the UW Seattle campus, houses the UWBG headquarters, the Elisabeth C. Miller Library and the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium. (Photo courtesy of the University of Washington website.)
The esteemed Olmsted Brothers Landscape firm designed the Dunn Gardens in 1915. One hundred years later the vision of the Gardens as a place of timeless grace has been realized. Notable features include naturalistic groupings of trees, broad lawns with borders of shrubs, and woodland walks. Plants range from diminutive erythroniums to large rhododendrons and towering Douglas firs.
Hidden in South Seattle, Kubota Garden is a stunning 20 acre landscape that blends Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants. The city acquired the property, which is an historic landmark, in 1987 from the estate of master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota. Kubota was a horticultural pioneer when he began merging Japanese design techniques with North American materials in his display garden in 1927. The Gardens are a spectacular setting of hills and valleys, interlaced with streams, waterfalls, ponds, bridges, and rock out-croppings with a rich array of plant material. (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Parks Department website.)
Donated to the city in 1956, the former family garden of Reginald H. Parsons has grown into a popular venue for small weddings and other ceremonies. With its wisteria bower, open grassy lawn, comfy benches, and flowering trees, Parsons Garden is a hidden gem tucked in a corner lot on the west edge of Queen Anne Hill. (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Parks Department website.)
Woodland Park Rose Garden offers a splendid setting for flower lovers to stroll the grass pathways circulating through 2-1/2 acres of rose displays. The garden’s extensive array of bush roses, hybrid teas, miniatures, climbers, and tree roses blend elegantly with the garden’s formal architectural design to create a memorable showcase landscape. Seattle, with its moderate climate, is fortunate in having one of the finest rose growing environments in the world. (Photo courtesy of the Woodland Park Zoo website.)
Located within the Washington Park Arboretum, the Seattle Japanese Garden is a spectacular 3-1/2 acre formal garden designed and constructed under the supervision of world-renowned Japanese garden designer Juki Iida in 1960. Built in 1959, the Seattle Japanese Garden was the earliest postwar public construction of a Japanese-style garden on the Pacific Coast, and thus has had a strong influence on the design on Japanese gardens throughout the region. It is one of the most celebrated Japanese gardens outside of Japan, and features a formal stroll-through garden at the north end and an informal, naturalistic woodland at the south end. These are connected by a semi-formal area in the center featuring a lake, wooden zigzag bridge, and stone peninsula. (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Japanese Garden website.)
Located on the campus of South Seattle College, the SSC Arboretum was established by the college for their horticulture program to serve as its living laboratory. The 5-acre site sits on a bluff overlooking downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay, and the West Duwamish Greenbelt. It’s also adjacent to the Seattle Chinese Garden. The Arboretum contains one of the best collections of dwarf conifers in the United States, and also features a rock garden that was inducted into the Gardens for Peace program in 2010. (Photo courtesy of the Western Conifer Society website.)
Located on the northwest side of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Streissguth Gardens is an urban oasis. A small, family-maintained garden on a steep hillside, this little-known gem in the middle of bustling Seattle offers amazing views of Lake Union, downtown Seattle, and the Olympic Mountains. Plantings have been selected to offer flowers every day of the year. Along with the beautiful vegetation and view, visitors enjoy winding trails, gurgling ponds, and birdsong. (Photo courtesy of the Streissguth Gardens website.)
The University of Washington’s Medicinal Herb Garden was established in 1911. Today, at two and a half acres, it is one of the largest public gardens of its kind. It houses nearly 1,000 species from all over the world used in historic and modern times for treating a wide array of ailments, from colds to heart disease, as well as for food, fiber, dye, spices, and ceremonial purposes. (Photo courtesy of the UW Botanical Garden website.)
Seattle’s Volunteer Park Conservatory serves a broad and diverse audience, spanning many generations of visitors throughout the past century—from Capitol Hill natives seeking tranquility and respite from hectic urban bustle, to travelers from around the globe who make their Seattle visit a little more memorable. While many who visit are interested in the world-class botanical collection which is carefully curated in the Conservatory’s five display houses, others are interested in the architecture and history of the century-old structure which stands as a reminder of a bygone Victorian age. (Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Conservatory website.)