Wouldn’t it be great if you could travel through Cascadia, Australia, China, Chile and New Zealand all in one day? In the Washington Park Arboretum’s Pacific Connections Garden, you can!
In this garden, you will find amazing plants from five countries connected by the Pacific Ocean. You’ll see alpine bottlebrush (Callistemon pityoides) from the boggy peatlands of Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia’s tallest peak. Experience a wonderful array of hardy fuchsias (Fuchsia magellanica) from Chile. Compare a fern native to East Asia (Woodwardia unigemmata) to one from the Himalayas (Dryopteris wallichiana). Admire the broad, swordlike leaves of Phormium colensoi and Astelia petriei, and the interesting forms, leaves and flowers of dozens of other New Zealand species on display. Appreciate the vast scale of Cascadia’s plants, from the tiny blooms of the inside-out flower (Vancouveria planipetala) to the immense trunk of a western red cedar (Thuja plicata). These and many more plants are found in the meadow, gardens, and forests that make up this twelve-acre garden.
New Zealand Forest
The new 2.5 acre New Zealand forest opened in September 2013. There are nearly 10,000 plants representing over 90 taxa for the 7 plant communities that are represented.
Gateway to Chile
The “Gateway to Chile” is situated at the southern intersection of Arboretum Drive and Lake Washington Boulevard and opened on October 17, 2010 to great fanfare and celebration.
The Gateway restored the overgrown Holmdahl Rockery and created of an eye-catching display of colorful Chilean plant species. The project included the planting of 72 Chilean trees that will contribute to the horticultural collection.
The preview gardens showcase plants from five Pacific Rim regions and demonstrate how to use these plants in horticulture. Situated along the perimeter of an open meadow, these garden vignettes offer visitors an introduction to the focal forests.
Because there are such a wide array of plants in the preview gardens, “iconic plants” have been chosen to represent each of the regions. These are plants that have special significance in their native regions because of their traditional uses, roles in the ecosystem, and beauty. The iconic plants are depicted in the signage and grown in the preview gardens surrounding the meadow. Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) for Cascadia; monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) for Chile; snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) for Australia; ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) for China; and New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) for New Zealand – each iconic plant tells a story about the importance of plants in that culture.
Pacific Connections Garden Audio Tours – Click to Listen
The University of Washington and the City of Seattle, with support from the Arboretum Foundation, are working together to implement the first major garden of the Arboretum [update link] project, the Pacific Connections Garden. This project received priority due to its ability to fulfill the master plan’s primary elements: conservation, education and recreation.
Five paths will lead out from the meadow into the focal forests. While the preview gardens offer an introduction to each country’s plants, their horticultural uses, and varieties, the larger focal forests will give you an opportunity to enter into a representative forest from a specific region within each of the five countries. These forests will offer a glimpse into how these plants grow in the wild.
How to Contribute
Come be a part of this significant project! Your gift will make our vision for Pacific Connections a reality. If you are interested in contributing please contact Arboretum Foundation Director of Major Gifts Initiatives (206-325-4510). You can also visit the Arboretum Foundation website at www.arboretumfoundation.org.
If you would like more information about the project please contact Fred Hoyt, UWBG Interim Director (206-543-3137) or Andy Sheffer, City Parks Project Manager (206-684-7041).