Originally published Feb. 6, 2015
By Nicole Tsong, former Fit for Life writer
I TAKE THE lushness of the Pacific Northwest for granted and realize when I travel that not all regions have green, abundant foliage year-round. We have many parks and gardens committed to displaying the beauty of where we live. Even during the grayest of winter months, there is plenty of green, and pops of color and beauty around the region in arboretums and botanical gardens.
Combine a visit to these lovely parks with a brisk walk, a great and reliable form of exercise. You can move your legs while gaining new inspiration and ideas for your own landscaping. Or simply admire what our region’s master gardeners create, no matter the season.
Head out to one of these beautiful gardens (check their websites first, just to be safe), take in the foliage and enjoy a lovely winter stroll.
Washington Park Arboretum
2300 Arboretum Drive E., Seattle
Beautifully maintained by the University of Washington, the Arboretum is a treasure, and one of my favorite places in the city to walk. With 230 acres, there are lots of pathways and nooks to wander through and new sights to see year-round as the gardens change with the seasons. In the winter, bundle up and head to the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden. Flowers such as Chinese witch hazel and Cyclamen coum pop midwinter, while dogwoods display red and yellow bark. In the winter garden, you can see plants chosen for their fragrance and others with lovely blooms. Or, simply wander through the grounds and appreciate the care and thoughtfulness put into the park’s maintenance and design.
Bellevue Botanical Garden
12001 Main St., Bellevue
With 53 acres to explore, the Bellevue Botanical Garden is a lovely Eastside haven. The garden has multiple trails to move your legs while taking in a huge variety of plants and flowers in various themed gardens. The Native Discovery Garden, for example, can inspire you with ideas of incorporating native plants in your landscaping. Or head to the Rhododendron Glen to admire Edgeworthia chrysantha, which blooms in the winter.
9817 55th Ave. S., Seattle
Tucked away in South Seattle, Kubota Garden is a 20-acre historical landmark that blends Japanese design with Northwest landscaping. It’s an opportunity to head to the south end of the city and explore a garden dotted with paths, waterfalls and bridges. The garden is a tranquil place to walk and enjoy features including rock outcroppings, ponds and an abundance of plants and trees.
Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens
American Legion Memorial Park
145 Alverson Blvd., Everett
Though it’s a smaller garden, at 3½ acres, there is still plenty to see at the Evergreen Arboretum, with 10 themed gardens and pathways throughout. It’s known for its collection of Japanese maples and colorful foliage in spring and fall, and you also can wander through the Northwest Demonstration Garden year-round for ideas on how to landscape for color, texture, flowers and more.
Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden
2525 S. 336th St., Federal Way
The Federal Way garden boasts more than 700 species of rhododendrons, which means plants bloom year-round, with hardy rhododendron species that start blooming in January. With 22 acres lined with gravel paths, it’s a lovely place to wander and learn about rhododendrons. February and March are two of the best months to visit the Rutherford Conservatory to see tropical plants and flowers. The nonprofit garden, located on the Weyerhaeuser campus, updates its website with information on which flowers are in bloom.