Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kruckeberg Botanic Garden: Going Native

Native columbine at the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden.
If you have a home and garden in the Pacific Northwest, chances are good that you've got or at least seen the classic book Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Dr. Art Kruckeberg.  When I bought my home, I received copies from two different friends as house-warming gifts.

What I didn't know until fairly recently is that Dr. Kruckeberg's home and garden, where he still lives and writes at age 93, was converted to a public botanic garden and nursery dedicated to rare and mostly Northwest native plants.   

Set in the Richmond Beach community of Shoreline, Washington (just north Seattle), this 4-acre garden and nursery is definitely worth a visit.  I was there a couple times in the past month for events. Many are educational, such as ethnobotany, wildlife, and bird tours. 

Strolling through the forested garden, with many rare and large trees, is a dramatic contrast to the surrounding suburb, where houses are packed close together with ornamental yards.  Now this is what the Northwest used to predominantly be like. This is the type of woods I roamed as a kid.

Just beyond the entrance gate and parking lot, you'll pass the home where Art still lives and the MSK Rare and Native Plant Nursery (his late wife Mareen's initials), which sells rare and native plants mostly propagated from the garden's seeds and cuttings. Check out their website for upcoming sales, the next of which is a Wildlife and Habitats Plant Sale June 7-9, 2013.

The MSK Nursery sells native plants for many natural conditions.
Stroll down a sloping pathway through the forest to the lower garden. Sculptures and art work are interspersed throughout the garden, temporary installations from local art students. This season's art is from a 3D Art and Sculpture class at North Seattle Community College.

The classic concrete benches remind me of my grandparent's yard.

In a far corner of the garden is the new Native Plant Demonstration Garden, which is being developed in collaboration with the Washington Native Plant Society, which Art and his late wife Mareen co-founded.  It's being installed in phases; look for a wetland feature in the years ahead.

Site of the Native Plant Demonstration Garden, currently being developed.

Native violet in newly opened Native Plant Demonstration Garden.

While there are many activities at the garden and nursery during the spring/summer/fall seasons, I also just enjoy walking through the forest and garden and appreciating the healthy and fertile plants, many of which take me back to my childhood home.


Healthy patch of wood sorrel, edible and mouth-puckering tart.
Happy sword fern, an abundant and prolific Northwest native.
When You Go
Here is a location map, driving directions, and hours of operation of the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden and MSK Nursery. This wonderful place is all about fostering community through gardening and environmental education.  There are many opportunities to get involved as a volunteer, or attend one of their events, like the upcoming summer fundraiser Garden Party 2013, a Mediterranean feast with Northwest notables like philanthropist Harriet Bullitt, Author Ivan Doig, UW Biology Professor Emeritus Estella Leopold, and artist Tony Angell.


Jill said...

Thanks Jill, If you're ever in SE Pennsylvania try to see Longwood Gardens. It's the former DuPont estate and it's an amazing place.

Sarah and Stewart said...

We just bought our first home in Snoqualmie and I have no idea what I'm going to do with the yard, so it sounds like maybe I need to pick up that book!

Sarah @ Life As Always

MaryAnn said...

All I can say is I want to go and see this property. I wonder what it looks like in August.