Washington Park Arboretum
Designed by James Dawson (1874-1941) of the Olmsted Brothers firm, and was founded in the 1930s with funds and labour from the Works Progress Administration, which provided relief during the Depression. Covering 93 hectares/230 acres in the heart of the city, and encompassing collections of Rhododendron, Cornus, Malus, Ilex, Magnolia, Camellia, Sorbus, Quercus, and Acer, the arboretum also has miles of trails for walking and birdwatching, several ponds, and wetlands. The University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture manages the collections and offers public education programs. Plant sales held in spring and autumn offer plants from the region’s 50 largest nurseries. The Winter Garden is a most popular attraction, with color from late November until late March. Cedars and firs provide the backdrop for stewartias and paperbark maples (Acer griseum) with ornamental winter bark, flowering Hamamelis, and redtwig and yellowtwig dogwoods (Cornus stolonifera `Kelseyi’ and C.s. `Flaviramea’).
Among the winter-floweringshrubs are Erica, Chimonanthus, Sarcococca, Viburnum X bodnantense `Dawn’, Mahonia `Arthur Menzies’, Camellia sasanqua, and Daphne odora `Aureo-marginata’. Spring highlights the arboretum’s foweringcherries, rhododendrons, and azaleas, including a tree-sized specimen of Rhododendron sutchuenense. Ninety Japanese maples, including Acer palmatum `Beni-schichihenge’, A. palmatum `Ukigumo’, A. palmatum `Seiryu’, and A. japonicum `Aconitifolium’, provide autumn colour, and comprise the largest such collection in the United States. A New Zealand Exhibit, a gift from Seattle’s sister city, Christchurch, imitates a subalpine tussock grassland, with a trail wandering through a small mountain pass framed by large granite boulders.
- Barbara Blossom Ashmun
From the Oxford Companion to the Garden which The Washington Post called “the perfect guide for anyone who wants to learn in an entertaining way about magnificent classical to contemporary gardens of the world.” Every Friday in August we’ll highlight a different public garden from The Oxford Companion to the Garden.