Pacific Northwest gardening is different than a lot of places in the country. Here, we are a lot about temperate plants, moss, lichens and woodland plants — but in a good way. Our gardening here features the color green, as in conifers and native plants that provide a carpet of ferns, rhododendrons, azaleas and more.While you may be a bit of a green thumb, one of the pleasures here is visiting gardens done by the professionals — a chance to wade through the Northwest landscapes provided by master gardeners. Where to go is easy — choosing is the hard part.
Close to home, Lakewold Gardens is the closest gardens to the South Sound, and a shining example of an early summer retreat for the Tacoma elite during the early part of the 20th Century. Once owned by lumber barons, Lakewold, in Lakewood on Gravelly Lake Drive, is now a non-profit garden with amazing views of Gravelly Lake as well as stunning plants including the famous blue poppy. Garden lovers should start their Northwest tour here (www.lakewold.org).
Want to see the Northwest’s number one native plant in all of its glory, tour the Rhododendron Garden in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. This is the largest urban park outside Central Park, and it is here where you can see how the mighty Rhododendron naturalizes with the trees and underbrush. Point Defiance Park is host to a variety of specialty gardens with plantings highlighting fuchsias, irises, rhododendrons and herbs, as well as a large and luscious rose garden and Northwest native garden, but the Rhododendron are the most interesting to see (metroparkstacoma.org/gardens).
A short ferry ride out of Seattle lands you on Bainbridge Island, home of the Bloedel Reserve. The 150 acres of meticulously cultivated land is a gem, and a fun way to see how to construct a woodland garden and formal garden that blends together. This was also the home of a lumber baron, and now is open to the public and maintained by an army of volunteer gardeners. It is the best example of a garden estate in the Puget Sound area (bloedelreserve.org).
Some of the best examples of Japanese gardening can be found right here in the Northwest. The premiere, hands down the best is the Portland Japanese Garden. Google Japanese gardens and likely you’ll find a number of images from this Portland mainstay. The gardens there are not only peaceful, they are stunning. With ponds, waterfalls and quiet nooks and crannies, you must at some point give this place a visit (japanesegarden.com).
A little bit closer is the Kubota Garden in Seattle. Kubota is, according to Christian Carvajal, “a delight for the eyes and balm for the soul.” The Fera Fera Forest, a grove of threadleaf cypress that matured into a graceful cathedral is mesmerizing, and there is a big focus on water and pebbles (kubotagarden.org).
The 2021 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs April 1 through April 30. The festival is designed to be a driving tour and highlights the agriculture of the Skagit Valley. The tour brings people from all 50 states and more than 93 countries. It looks like the tulips will be at peak bloom by the weekend of April 14-15. Once at peak, the flowers stick around for a few weeks. Tulip Festival-themed events are held throughout the area, everything from wine festivals, art exhibits, quilt walks and runs. Visit tulipfestival.org for more information.
Pictured is Lakewold (courtesy of gardens).