That wondrous and warm feeling you get from strolling through a beautiful garden is difficult to forget. The idyllic arboretums and gardens in Washington state are the perfect places to experience that emotion again. In fact, their beauty and the Pacific Northwest native plants and flowers they feature bring in visitors from all over the world. Read on to learn about the best gardens to visit in Washington state this season.
Meerkerk Gardens, Whidbey Island
A 25-minute drive south of Oak Harbor, you’ll find Whidbey Island’s incredible Meerkerk Gardens. This astonishing 10-acre garden on a 43-acre woodland plot features a breathtaking assemblage of garden rooms, meditation areas, ponds, walking trails, art and so much more. Visitors will be inspired by the vast rhododendrons, azaleas and other flowering plants on the property that work in harmony to create the most peaceful landscape.
Peak bloom happens in April and May with flowers continuing into early June. You don’t want to miss this patch of historical beauty on Whidbey Island – the Meerkerk family began creating it in the 1960s! In addition to offering a place to explore at your own pace, the nonprofit garden puts on events and offers tours and various classes to the public for a small fee.
Chetzemoka Park, Port Townsend
On the perimeter of Port Townsend looking out over the Admiralty Inlet, Chetzemoke Park sits quietly on a bluff with impressive views of the iconic Cascade Mountains.
Named after Chief Chetzemoka of the S’Klallam tribe, Chetzemoka Park is Port Townsend's first community park formed by the Civics Club in 1904. It spans roughly 6.5 acres of luscious land. Visitors to the location are met with a vibrant and well-kept lawn, a beautiful gazebo, a children's park and – of course – flower gardens. Considered the “crown jewel” of Port Townsend’s park system, the flower garden at Chetzemoka stuns visitors with a variety of antique roses and vines, Rhododendrons and more.
With so many features of the garden and resources for visitors, including ADA accessible restrooms, kitchen shelter and beach access, this park is truly a gem for all who stop by.
Sources: OlympicPeninsula.org and EnjoyPT.com
Ohme Gardens, Wenatchee
On the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain range, Ohme Gardens provides another beautiful legacy of a Washington state family. This 40-acre garden – nearly a century old – was created by Herman and Ruth Ohme starting in 1929, who had a dream of transforming the plot of land that others had considered nothing more than a desert. This garden is closed in the winter, but open seven days a week otherwise.
Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington. Photos courtesy of Greenlake Guesthouse
The Seattle Times covered the history of this now lush, mountainside decorated with wildflowers and soaring cedar and Douglas fir trees, sharing, “Visitors from all over the world come to Ohme Gardens to walk among towering mature cedar and Douglas fir trees framing the still-stunning views. A network of trails furnished with integrated stone benches rambles through cool, forested shade and sunny alpine meadows blooming with creeping phlox and bugleweed, at their best just now in spring. Naturalistic waterfalls cascading into deep pools mitigate the heat in summer. It’s hard to believe this is a completely handmade landscape, crafted, tended and nurtured for more than 90 years with heart and hard work.”
Who wouldn’t want to experience that?
Kubota Gardens, Seattle
Kubota Gardens in south Seattle is a dream for all nature lovers and meanderers. Open every day of the year from sunrise to sundown, Kubota is a free-of-charge, dog-friendly (on leash) and a wonderful relic of the city’s history. Fujitaro Kubota created the garden in 1927, and in 1980, the center of the garden – the initial 4.5 acres on which Kubota began creating – became a historical landmark of the City of Seattle, declared by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. In 1989, the Kubota Garden Foundation was formed to maintain a relationship with the city of Seattle and guarantee the preservation of the garden.
The garden is instantly recognizable as having Japanese-style inspired elements, including hill-and-pond gardens and rockeries, but there is also a range of trees and plants not typically associated with Japanese gardens. The vibrant 20-acre oasis features the calming shade of green plants, a spring pond, a terrace overlook, an enchanting collection of Japanese maple trees with buoyant clusters of fall-colored leaves and so much more. This garden has so much to offer and is absolutely a must-see for visitors and locals alike! Although it is beautiful year-round, you’ll catch the cherry blossoms in bloom in the spring and see the leaves of the Japanese maple trees in the fall.
Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island
You don’t want to miss out on exploring Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre estate and garden a short ferry ride away from downtown Seattle and Elliot Bay. If you’re on your way back to Seattle or on the way to the Olympic Peninsula, this is a great spot to visit by way of the ferry. The ferry ride offers breathtaking city views, but the reserve envelops you in a rustic fairytale-like garden. Yes, this garden also holds a rich history – particularly relating to the Suquamish People and their legacy on the land. The founders of Bloedel Reserve, Prentice and Virginia Bloedel, shared a love for the land and successfully curated a series of gardens, landscapes and other features on the property since 1951. It is now “internationally recognized for its evocative beauty as a landscape of environmental rehabilitation.”
The reserve invites you to take a personal journey within the varying garden spaces that are present there. According to their website, the reserve was originally designed to “create a deeply intimate experience with the self” They continue on to say, “Each garden unfolds from the last, creating an introspective connection with nature. Here we offer an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the Reserve’s plants and trees, ecology, landscape design, and aesthetics.” Visit that link to learn more about their landscapes, features and structures.
Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. Photos courtesy of Greenlake Guesthouse.
The Dunn Gardens, Seattle
Regarded as both a regionally and nationally significant landscape, Dunn Gardens provides a home for over 70 heritage trees. It was built in 1915 by the Olmstead Brothers Landscape firm and showcases the “evolution of garden design in the Pacific Northwest” according to their mission statement.
On their website, you can learn about their rich history and wide range of garden displays, from beautiful flowering trilliums to majestic Douglas fir trees. This special ecosystem of natural life allows new and old growth to merge, with some plants “dating back to the 1910s [coexisting] happily with those just set into the soil.” Visitors can book a tour from April through September.
Enjoy Washington State’s Best Gardens
It’s clear that Washington state gardens are exceptional places to visit and wonderful preservations of history. Not only are they remarkably beautiful to the eye, but they also bring tranquility and calmness to their visitors, creating a sensory and sometimes spiritual experience. Washington State is one-of-a-kind and we invite you to get the most out of your visit. Our inn members are a wealth of knowledge and highly rated for overall hospitality. Explore our members in the regions shared above for the ultimate Washington experience.