October in the Washington Park Arboretum

Almost lost in the bounty of beautiful gardens in Seattle is the Washington Park Arboretum, jointly operated by the University of Washington and the city of Seattle. It is a showcase for botanical specimens that do well in our climate. Plants and trees are spread out over some 250 acres, the landscaping not as concentrated as they are in most gardens. Appreciation of the arboretum requires walking over a network of easy paths. Not surprisingly, the most spectacular seasons are spring and autumn when in one, the flowers of the evergreen shrubs make their appearance and in the other, beautiful fall foliage puts on a show.

With light fog and partial afternoon clearing in the forecast, we hopped in our car to re-visit.

Locating particular specimens requires a map. The Graham Visitors Center at the arboretum’s north end will provide you with the current month’s highlights whose locations are numbered on a free map, or you can visit the website. There is no admission fee.

Today, the leaves of several kinds of trees were at their colorful best. Not only did we appreciate the fall colors but also admired several plant collections connected by a system of paths, some of them stairways, scattered with occasional benches for resting or admiring the views.

Just last month, the arboretum dedicated a new, two-acre section devoted to the plants, shrubs and grasses of the South Island of New Zealand, which is where my daughter and her family live. For now, all you can see are small plant specimens. In ten years or so, the area will look more mature. The New Zealand display is located in the Pacific Collections Gardens in the south end.

The Japanese Gardens are also physically part of the arboretum though it is operated solely by the city of Seattle.


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