There are many parks, p-patches and demonstration gardens in the Seattle area to visit, and the surrounding mountain ranges (when they can be seen) and nearby bodies of water can bring contemplation and introspection.
But visiting a garden can recharge your creative spirit and help you to create your own oasis of calm in the city.
Here are a few of my favorite nonprofit gardens in the Puget Sound area.
Chase Garden, located in Graham, Wash., is a great place to view native plants in a garden setting. The Chase Garden sits on a bluff overlooking the Puyallup River Valley and features spectacular views of Mount Rainier. It has a woodland garden of second-growth Douglas firs with native understory plants, as well as a meadow filled with wildflowers, Japanese maples, rhododendrons and conifers.
Emmott and Ione Chase started developing this 4.5-acre garden in 1962; it is now a Preservation Project of the Garden Conservancy.
Information: www.chasegarden.org(open weekends, April through October, 10 a. m.-3 p. m.)
Earth Sanctuary in Langley, Wash., is a great place to watch birds, meditate and see a large-scale ecological restoration project in progress.
Visit the Cottonwood Stone Circle, currently the tallest stone circle in the world, made of Columbia River basalt and surrounded by black cottonwood trees, where blue herons like to nest. It is hoped this area will be contain a blue heron rookery in a decade or so.
Walk around the labyrinth lined with salal, and walk by a stone dolmen, a meditative site with large, flat stones laid on upright ones, which forms an enclosed space for reflection.
It’s difficult to believe this area was covered in invasive Himalayan blackberry plants in the early 1990s.
Information: www. earthsanctuary (open year-round during daylight hours)
Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, Wash., offers landscape architecture by Thomas Church and a Georgianstyle mansion surrounded by rare and native plants, state champion trees, more than 900 rhododendrons, 30 Japanese maples and statuary.
In pioneer days, this area was known as the Lakes District. Sheep grazed on the lush prairie grass and drank from the spring-fed lakes. In 1908, Emma Alexander purchased the land, and by 1913, her garden was already locally famous.
Currently, there is a fern garden, shade garden, knot garden planted with culinary herbs, a rock garden of alpine plants and miniature species bulbs, and a rose garden.
Information: www.lakewoldgardens.org(open year-round)
Seattle Chinese Garden in Seattle opened in 2010 and is the largest Chinese garden outside of China, showcasing not only plants but also stone, architecture and water elements. Plantings include traditional garden favorites with meanings lying deep in Chinese culture, exotic plants with ornamental qualities collected from Sichuan’s hills and valleys, and unusual varieties of Chinese plants already familiar to Western gardeners, including new roses, wisterias, dogwoods and viburnums.
Information: www.seattlechinesegarden.org(open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5:30 p. m.)
At Powellswood Garden, which opened in Federal Way, Wash., in 1999, you have an opportunity to see mature versions of plants that you see in local nurseries. A lovely perennial border, woodland garden, spring garden, fern and rhododendron garden, and a small teahouse awaits visitors.
Cold Creek, which borders the north side of the garden, was restored a few years ago, and the shade garden extends to the creek bank.
Information: www.powellswood.org(open April through October, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a. m.-3 p. m., plus Mother’s Day; or by appointment)
If you have questions about how to care for specific plants, identify organisms or learn techniques to create healthy, sustainable garden communities, contact the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 or help@ gardenhotline.org.
Or check in with Seattle Tilth at www.seattletilth.orgfor a list of classes and volunteer opportunities.
Sheri Hinshaw is an environmental educator with Seattle Tilth’s Garden Hotline.