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The Winter Garden in the Washington Park Arboretum

Seattle Tourist Attractions--Botanical Gardens

Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden

It’s the dead of winter.  Seattle can be cold, gray, and rainy this time of the year.  What exciting outdoor adventure can you come up with?  Try an outing to the beautiful Joseph Witt Winter Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum. 

The Arboretum is a lovely place any time of the year but it offers a special treat at the Winter Garden.  From November until mid-March, this Arboretum offering really stands out with a mixture of strong scents, vivid colors, and rich textures of its more than 100 plant species. 

A number of plants sport flowers in the Winter Garden:  mahonia, witch hazel, vibernum, winter-blooming honeysuckle, camellias, and silk tassel to name a few.  On my most recent visit, the skies were partly cloudy and the floral display looked like a spring garden at its prime.  The showy witch hazels come in several different colors and really put on a show. 

Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden

The Winter Garden offers a pleasant mix of fragrances from several of its plant species.  The strength of the scents is surprising to find in the dead of winter.  Sweet box, witch hazel, vibernum, fragrant daphne, and the winter-blooming honeysuckle fill the air with their heady mix of powerful aromas. 

Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden

I particularly enjoy all of the textures offered up by the Winter Garden.  Berries, leaf patterns, moss, and bark offer a wide variety of visual delights. Even the bare stalks of certain plants that have lost their leaves can add colorful shapes and textures to the fabric of the Garden.

Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden

Another treat in the Winter Garden is to watch the birds and wildlife go about their busy lives.  I walked up to a squirrel sitting eye level with me on a branch and took a photograph of him while I was only four feet away. He didn’t slow down from munching the berries that were the focus of his attention. The Anna’s hummingbirds and Townsend warblers are two of the birds attracted by the Winter Garden’s flowers.

Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden

This garden dates from 1949 and it was substantially renovated in 1988.  You can pick up a guide to the Winter Garden and ask questions of a docent at the Graham Visitors Center.  The Winter Garden is located adjacent to the Visitors Center.

Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden


Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden



Photography note:  bring your tripod and have a nice time.  If you have either sunny or partly cloudy skies, the flowering tree branches make excellent backlighted subjects.

Tip:  bring a pair of old shoes to wear.  The grounds can get fairly muddy. 

Dogs:  the Arboretum allows you to bring your dogs as long as they are on a leash and that you clean up after them. 

Washington Park Arboretum Web Site: Please click here to go to the web site for the Washington Park Arboretum

Winter Garden Web Site:  please click here to go to the web site for the Arboretum’s Winter Garden.

Winter Garden guide: please click here to view and print a map of the Winter Garden.


Click here to return to the Seattle Botanical Gardens--General page