We know the Pacific Northwest is a gardener’s – and garden lover’s – paradise, but did you know you have six breathtaking and unique display gardens to explore, right in South Puget Sound?
“We have an amazing concentration of breathtaking gardens right here,” says Britt Board, from the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, one of six spectacular spaces that come together as the South Sound Gardens.
From a breathtaking array of rhododendrons to lush native woodlands to an historic garden estate, the gardens offer an astounding array of diverse plant species, landscape and size. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find:
PowellsWood – Uniquely combining a lush pleasure garden and native woodland within a 40-acre nature preserve, let your senses be enchanted as you explore this oasis of beauty, peace and inspiration in Federal Way.
The Lake Wilderness Arboretum – The arboretum is a 42-acre sanctuary of gardens and forest trails in the heart of Maple Valley that inspires, educates and connects its visitors to nature. The five unique display gardens have been created, cultivated and transformed by dedicated volunteers for 50 years. The Smith-Mossman Western Azalea Garden, one of the five display gardens, is one of the largest collections of deciduous western azaleas in the world. Open every day from dawn to dusk, the arboretum offers free admission and parking.
Soos Creek Botanical Garden and Heritage Center – Stroll among a variety of inspirational and mature gardens, drawing from international, regional and historical designs. Located in Auburn, this is truly a garden of many colors and textures with a broad field of interest for all ages. Celebrate nature, while enjoying the fragrances and sounds all around you, and watch for events and workshops exploring various gardening topics.
Lakewold Gardens –This 10-acre historic garden estate features both formal and natural settings. Nestled amidst lush English-inspired gardens and a rich woodland, the Georgian-style mansion overlooks Gravelly Lake, and while located just south of Tacoma off of I-5, the gardens feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Community-focused programming and events are also offered.
The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden – This 22-acre woodland garden and living plant museum boasts the largest collection of Rhododendron species in the world. The RSBG conserves species rhododendrons and champions environmental stewardship through educational programs and collaboration with the global scientific community.
Exhibiting vast diversity, rhododendrons grow in a numerous climates and habitats, and range from tiny alpine species to towering 100-ft trees covered in flowers. Home to 800+ of the 1,200 known rhododendron species, the garden’s conservation-centered mission helps protect species under threat of habitat destruction and extinction.
W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory – An architectural treasure built in 1908, the botanical conservatory in Tacoma is one of only three Victorian-styled, public conservatories on the West Coast.
With more than 250 species of exotic plants and seasonal floral displays, the Conservatory remains today a much-loved sanctuary for plants and people.
Learn more and plan your visit at southsoundgardens.com, where you’ll find garden links, maps and an array of inspiring photos. And with four gardens also offering plants for sale, “it’s another great way to support our mission,” Board says.
Contact the gardens directly to confirm opening hours.
To plan for future adventures here and throughout the West Coast, visit westcoasttraveller.com