Monday, August 1, 2022

PowellsWood; a Northwest Pleasure Garden

My second stop on the recent NPA Hardy Plant Study Weekend was PowellsWood; "A Northwest pleasure garden tucked away in a Federal Way neighborhood, the three acres of PowellsWood are nestled against another thirty-five acres of native successional forest. A series of exquisite hedges help define several distinct garden rooms graced with more than a thousand varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials."

Parking on the lawn seemed so decadent...

PowellsWood is one of those places I'd been aware of, but never taken the time to stop and visit. The fact it was included on the Study Weekend's itinerary of gardens (with free admission), finally pushed me to visit.

Shady palms looked very promising...

And I do love me some astelia.

There are some of those hedges referenced in the intro blurb...

Looking thru this arch I had the feeling maybe I'd entered the wrong way and should have gone down around the house (no longer a home, but obviously it once was) and came up thru the sunny border. And so I headed that way...

Looking to my side after passing thru the arch.

And ahead...

More palms! These were rather stout.

And check out those podophyllum! 

Perhaps 'Red Panda'?

I was happy to see a nice loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) growing in the Greater Seattle area. This tree hasn't really seemed to catch on up there, not the way it has in Portland.

Heading back thru the arch again, only from the sunny side.

This rhododendron was repeated around the palms (see the above photo) and I really wanted to know what it was. 

There was a pair talking nearby, one of which I was pretty sure was Justin Henderson, Garden Director, and so I interrupted and asked. They were very gracious and yep, it was Justin (check out the Powellswood Instagram account for lots of fun posts from Justin), the next thing I know he was pulling up the rhododendron name on his phone...

Walking on...

Blechnum penna-marina, aka Austroblechnum penna-marina, such a great ground cover fern.

Rodgersia and Impatiens omeiana—a combination I adore, but only works in the springtime in my garden. Once our rains stop they dry up and are very unattractive. As this photo was taken in md-June, I wonder what it looks like now in this garden?

Walking on.

The moss!

Yes, I sat here for a spell.

I wanted to call this area a viewing platform, but on their website they call it an overlook: "An overlook, built largely of material from a recycled pier, provides a view of the ravine, trails, and wildlife below."

Hmm, a very interesting pile of "things", there's a story here I am sure of it.

I'm now longing for a rotted-out slice of wood in which I can plant.

Another glace at the moss (!)...

Hmm, Aralia elata 'Aureovariegata' perhaps? (I'm thinking back to a plant I saw at Dancing Oaks in 2015)...

More fabulous variegation, on a hosta this time.

I enjoyed my inaugural visit to PowellsWood, and since I didn't have time to wander the trails out into the nature preserve this time, I know I'll be back!

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


  1. It looks temperatures in this garden are always 20°F than the rest!

    Sooooo, what makes a pleasure garden a pleasure garden?

    1. Well, since you asked... "A pleasure garden today, insofar as the term is still used, usually means a park or garden that is open to the public for recreation and entertainment. Pleasure gardens differ from other public gardens by serving as venues for entertainment, variously featuring such attractions as concert halls, bandstands, amusement rides, zoos, and menageries.

      However, historically a "pleasure garden" or pleasure ground meant private flower gardens, shrub gardens or formal wooded areas such as bosquets, that were planted for enjoyment, with ornamental plants and neat paths for walking. These were distinguished from the areas in a large garden planted as lawns or a landscaped park, or the "useful" areas of the kitchen garden and woodland. Thus most modern gardens would have been called "pleasure gardens", especially in the 17th and 18th centuries." (Wiki)

  2. Another garden I can only imagine in my rain-filled dreams! I was flabbergasted by the extensive stretches of moss among other things. I admit I smiled at the garden's official description as a "pleasure garden" as that's a term I generally associate with centuries old English estate gardens, although my sense of that description in this case conformed closely to the definition provided by Wiki in your response to Gerhard.

    1. I will need to time a later visit for once the rains have ceased, as the very wet PNW spring as certainly enhanced the green factor here!

  3. Very nice!

    I like that a lot.

    For a big garden it has the right balance of interesting plants and lawn.

    Those Trachycarpus look really healthy. The leaves look pristine! Interesting how the trunks differ in size.

    I can't seem to log in with my Google account this evening when writing this comment. I wonder what is going on?

    1. Yes, this garden is definitely a good place to see healthy happy trachycarpus! Google is all over the place with it's commenting structure these days. So many people who used to comment with names or links now have to do so anonymously.

  4. So GREEN. So INSANELY green. No scorched foliage anywhere.

    I thought my eyes were going to fall out. I love that garden. Would love to visit it, but parking on a lawn???

    1. It was overflow parking I believe, there was a regular lot lower in the garden, but since it was my first time I didn't know!

  5. Love the little slate (?) carpet for your feet at the spot where you took a break and sat down. That Podophyllum was dreamy if it was spread by intent. But I remember on the HFF Zoom last week Ritchie mentioned Red Panda really spreads, so . . .

    1. My 'Red Panda' has sent out a few runners, nothing like this though!

  6. Looks like a great place to tour. That Podophyllum is incredible. Would love to see that garden if I'm ever out that way.

  7. I wish a domestic nursery could find a source for those aralia; it doesn't seem like anyone has been importing them for several years.

  8. Justin HendersonAugust 02, 2022

    Wonderful to have you visit, Loree! It was lovely to meet you.

    You are not alone in finding it unusual to park on the grass parking lot. The lawn is reinforced with a hidden plastic grid.

    The Podophyllum 'Red Panda' has received lots of comments this season. It has spread dramatically in the last couple years and is getting more attention than ever.

    The combination of Rodgersia and Impatiens omeiana is still looking fabulous! They are planted alongside a shaded stream where they receive plenty of water.

    Thanks for the motivation to finally clean up the pile of "things!" I really wish there was a better story other than laziness on my part :)

    Hope to see you again!


    1. The lawn looks like it doesn't mind a little parking, I thought it was fabulous. I forgot about that stream, or rather I guess I forgot exactly where in the garden that combination was. I tried to get a good shot of the stream but none of them turned out decent! As for the pile of "things," I thought it was quite inspiring.


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