These pages highlight gardens that are featured in my book, Walking Washington’s Gardens.
The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden
Location: Federal Way, WA. www.rhodygarden.org
The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden is located in Federal Way on what was formerly Weyerhauser Corporation land. The garden started as a collection of rhododendrons that outgrew their Oregon-based space at the homes of board members. It is one of the few public gardens devoted to the protection and cultivation of a single genus. The garden covers 22 acres, but don’t be fooled by its name. The displays much more than rhododendrons. Its themed areas include a Victorian Stumpery, a pond garden, a meadow of Himalayan blue poppies and Himalayan lilies, an Alpine Rock Garden, a Magnolia Grove, a stunning Japanese Azalea Garden, and a big-leaf rhododendron forest. Many of the garden’s plants come from plant hunting expeditions around the world, led by the executive director, Steve Hootman. One of the garden’s most popular events is its annual Blue Poppy Day. It also holds other events and workshops throughout the year.
The Rutherford Conservatory is a fairly new addition to the garden. The 5,000-square-foot glasshouse gives visitors a place to view tropical rhododendrons and other plants any day of the year.
Admission fee. The garden is open Tuesday through Sunday, year-round.
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