Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Visiting two very different gardens in the Seattle-area

I was surprised to discover I still had photos from our February trip up to Seattle (for the NWFG Fest) waiting to be published—today we take a quick look at two very different gardens, starting with the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. I stopped on our way up to Seattle, but unfortunately had less than an hour before they closed. I shopped the nursery and then cut through the garden to the fern stumpery.


I think the large fronds belong to Woodwardia unigemmata, the jewelled chain fern.

Blechnum spicant (deer fern) and Blechnum penna-marina (alpine water fern). 

I've heard a few people disparage the spreading nature of Blechnum penna-marina, but for now I'm loving how it's starting to expand in my garden—nothing like the enthusiasm shown here though.

Hydrangea integrifolia climbing the tree. 

I can't tell you the name of the round-leaved ground cover, maybe you know and can tell me?

Bleached blades of hakonechloa, Japanese forest grass. Spring clean-up was still a few weeks off. I love seeing this grass left to age gracefully in place.

Oh, I think I know the name of the plant with the little round leaves in this photo, Lonicera crassifolia.

More quickly taken photos...
Everything was very green!

Polypodium scouleri

Saxifraga dentata

Woodwardia unigemmata and Cyrtomium falcatum (Japanese holly fern), I believe.

Rhododendron sinogrande, looking a little deflated.

Saxifraga stolonifera and a bright green bed of moss.

This is the end of the shady Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden coverage...

... as we transition to the sunny Pacific Connections Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.

These two gardens (the RSBG and PacConn) book-ended our five day trip, this was our last stop before we hit the road back to Portland. 

Some kind visitor placed this camellia blossom where it could be appreciated.

The Pacific Connections Garden contains plants from five countries connected by the Pacific Ocean—Cascadia, Australia, China, Chile and New Zealand. Well, make that four countries and one region.

These stalks belong to Cardiocrinum giganteum, from China.

The odd black cylinders must be protecting the small plants that will grow to bloom in the coming years? Perhaps from nibbling rabbits?

I don't think I would have noticed the large fern on the roof of the shelter had Andrew not been looking up. 

Hebe ochracea ‘James Stirling’ (in the foreground) is such a stunning plant.

It's at the entrance to the New Zealand Forest.

The Seattle area had an epic cold winter and those cordylines are showing their displeasure with odd coloring at their growing point. 

There were many astelia that didn't look like they were going to make it. This was one of the good ones.

Ditto for the phormium.

Astelia nivicola 'Red Devil' has been one of the best performers of the genus for me.

The Cordyline indivisa hadn't melted yet, but they look a little off in their coloring.

Ditto for the Wollemia nobilis

It should pull through.

It's been amazing to watch this garden mature over the years, I hope it's not set back to hard as the plants react to the historic cold.

Grevillea x gaudichaudii

And the pendulous blooms of Garrya elliptica (Coast silk-tassel) end this look at two very different gardens, both of which I love to visit every chance I get.

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Big leaved Rhodies make me swoon!

    I like the way they have been planted with the ferns and the ground cover.

    I am surprised that some of the Phormiums have failed whilst the Cordyline australis haven't. Cordylines are not long term prospects up here in inland Scotland because as soon as we have a cold winter they die (I am talking -8C or lower for a few weeks). Some Phormiums survived the 6 weeks of snow and -18C back in Dec 2010/Jan 2011 around here.

    A fellow poster on Growing On The Edge forum was talking about Pyrrosia the other day. It looks like they are starting to be sold in the UK now :)

    1. In my experience the cordylines just take longer to show their unhappiness. Yay for pyrrosia!

  2. ooh, that is a very nice hebe! And that astelia does look like a winner for you. Stlll trying to wrap my head around how much presence a garden can have in the PNW during winter, meaning evergreen vs. deciduous etc., but also I can see how structure and a strong layout are important to entice one out in the cold, wet months. And the ferns! Jeez, another rabbit hole...

    1. There is no reason to not have year-round presence, but you know that. Ferns! They're gonna get cha...

  3. I always enjoy seeing stumperies with all those wonderful plants I haven't a hope of growing in my dry climate - they look prehistoric to my eyes. The second garden contains more of the plants I'm used to. The Garrya elicited a sigh - mine, planted in November 2015, has yet to drop dead but is still only about a foot high and has never flowered.

    1. Perhaps it's time to toss in that garrya towel?

  4. Don BrooksMay 04, 2022

    The RSBG plant you asked about is Chrysosplenium macrophyllum

  5. Love seeing all these beautiful greens even if I can’t grow most of them.

    1. That's the fun of reading garden blogs, right?

  6. AnonymousMay 04, 2022

    So temperate-rain-forest-y. Love that. So very different from crispy-dry here.
    --hoov b.

    1. We all have our climate cross to bear...

  7. Garrya eliptica is on my want list ! 🦋

  8. AnonymousMay 05, 2022

    A good reminder to make a trip to the Rhodi garden. After 3 decades in Seattle, I may just catch it in bloom. (Though the lush, green on green stumpery is my favorite!).

  9. I'm a couple hours north of Seattle. I had a large collection of mature Astelia 'Silver Spear' in containers, and lost them all during the frigid week after Christmas. I have a couple red ones in my small greenhouse, but I'll be reluctant to build a collection again.

    1. I hear ya, I lost several established astelia in one of our cold events a few years back. Since then I've stuck to those that I think can handle it, like 'Red Devil', or known they might be expensive annuals.


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