Arbor Eden 2011

Arbor Eden 2011

One of the highlights for local gardeners is Arbor Eden, the annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show Preview Gala, hosted by the Arboretum Foundation to benefit the Washington Park Arboretum, to be held on Tuesday, February 22 at the Washington State Convention Center. The Arboretum Foundation, with support from the City of Seattle and the University of Washington, creates a beautiful display garden at the show. This year their show garden honors the 50th anniversary of the venerable Seattle Japanese Garden at the Arboretum.


Preview Gala guests enjoy an exciting silent auction, filled with plants, art, tools and travel – chosen by gardeners just for fellow gardeners – along with delectable desserts and fine wines by local vintners. For Patrons and Benefactors a buffet dinner is also offered. In harmony with the evening’s theme, guests are invited to wear traditional Japanese clothing, such as a Kimono or festive attire.


This is a rare opportunity for gardeners to view the 23 show gardens is an intimate atmosphere, before the show opens to the public the next morning. Relax and stroll the gardens and take in the sweeping scenes of these inspirational and cutting-edge gardens, designed by some of the Northwest’s leading landscape architects, designers, nurseries and gardening organizations. The 2011 show theme, “Once Upon a Time…Spectacular Gardens with Stories to Tell” has sparked garden creators’ imaginations like never before. And the show’s new partnership with Windmill Gardens, in Sumner, has made it easier than ever to force branches, perennials, roses, and bulbs. The result is thousands upon thousands of plants bursting into bloom during the show, heralding spring in the dreary days of late February.


The Seattle Japanese Garden at the Arboretum has timeless appeal, as evidenced by this photo taken by Joy Spurr 20 years ago. The same tranquil scene is enjoyed by visitors today.

In keeping with the show’s theme, the Arboretum Foundation show garden, titled “The Japanese Garden – Bridging History,” creates the setting for a scene from the Japanese fable, “The Old Man Who Made Trees Blossom.” The display depicts the courtyard of the local prince in the fable. The prince’s faithful dog Shiro, who helps his master revive an old cherry tree in the prince’s garden, earns a reward and lives happily ever after.


The Arboretum Foundation's show garden in 2011 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Japanese Garden. Drawing by Roger Williams.

Designed by Seattle landscape architect and garden show speaker Phil Wood, architect and Foundation board member Roger Williams, and noted plantsman and author Bob Lilly, the timeless style of a Japanese garden are reflected in the design, including a zigzag bridge spanning a stone peninsula, flowering cherry trees, a stone pathway, and a metaphorical lake connecting formal and informal spaces.


Arbor Eden Guests meet in the South Lobby for a hosted wine reception, live entertainment and the silent auction from 6:00 – 7:00 pm, and then enter the garden floor for viewing the gardens from 7:00 – 9:30 pm. General admission ticket prices have been lowered this year, to $65 (members) and $100 (non-members) per person. (Guests are urged to dine before the event, but save room for the luscious desserts.)


Patrons and Benefactors enjoy hosted wine and hors d’oeuvres and the silent auction from 4:30 – 5:30 pm, followed by an exclusive garden preview and buffet dinner from 5:30 – 7:00 pm, and continued garden viewing until 9:30 pm. Complimentary parking is included, and Benefactors also receive two tickets to the show. Ticket prices are $250 (Patrons) and $500 (Benefactors) per person.


Reservations can be made online at or by calling 206-325-4510. No paper tickets will be issued; registered guests will be entered on the will call list.

Experiencing the sweet fragrance of witch hazel in the Witt Winter Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum should be on everyone’s winter to-do list. While there, get your tickets to the Arboretum Foundation’s Preview Gala. Photo by Niall Dunn.

You can also make reservations in person at the Arboretum Shop in the Graham Visitors Center, so why not head there today to visit the fabulous Witt Winter Garden?  It’s one of the Northwest’s finest winter gardens, filled with witch hazels, winter jasmine, mahonia, hellebores and more that begin to bloom in early January. The fragrance will make you swoon.


And of course, you can always volunteer to help with the Arbor Eden event, or with the display garden set-up or during the actual show.  Email the Volunteer Resources Manager Elly Lien at [email protected], or call her at 206-325-4510.  It’s always great fun to volunteer with the Arboretum Foundation! You’ll be supporting an organization that provides vital resources to protect and support the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre urban green space and plant collection nestled in the heart of Seattle, and open free to the public year-round. – Janet

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