Federal Way gardens gear up for Mother's Day weekend events

Shawn Thomas, head gardener at PowellsWood in Federal Way, prepares the garden for Mother’s Day weekend - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Shawn Thomas, head gardener at PowellsWood in Federal Way, prepares the garden for Mother’s Day weekend
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

Mother’s Day weekend in Federal Way is filled with hotspots for gardening activities, information and world-class displays of flowers and plant life.

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

May is peak bloom season at the world-renowned Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. The non-profit garden pays colorful homage to hundreds of rhododendron species. It also features complementary plants such as himalayan poppies, along with trails and a stumpery (garden area made from parts of dead trees) that rivals Prince Charles’ famous stumpery in Britain, said garden administrative assistant Katie Swickard.

“We have a lot of stuff in our nursery that you can’t find anywhere else,” said Swickard, noting the shrubs, perennials and lilacs that will be available for display and purchase.

On May 7-8, the garden will feature several activities:

• Stroll with mom through the top-flight Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. Guided tours are available at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

• The gift shop and pavilion features a large selection of popular, rare and unusual plants for sale.

• Experience the new Rutherford Conservatory filled with tropical rhododendrons

• Enjoy the Seattle Rhododendron Society’s annual Truss and Photo Show

• Create a terrarium during “Mom and Me Time” at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

• On Sunday, Rolling Fire Artisan Wood Fired Pizza along with Sweet Treats will sell food.

The garden is open year-round from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at 33663 Weyerhaeuser Way S. Admission is $8 general, $5 seniors and students, free for children under 12 and military. Moms are admitted free on Mother’s Day weekend. To learn more, call (253) 838-4646 or visit

Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection

Located next to the Rhododendron Botanical Species Garden, the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection is now open permanently and awaits thousands of visitors this weekend.

The bonsai garden is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday all year. Admission is free. The garden reopened for Mother’s Day weekend 2010 after a year-long closure due to budget cuts at Weyerhaeuser. Two staff members had been retained to maintain the tree collection.

“We are trying to find a new owner for the bonsai collection,” said Scarlet Gore, a gardener for the collection, noting that between 1,500 and 4,000 visitors are expected this Mother’s Day weekend. “It’s always our busiest weekend.”

Bonsai is an ancient Japanese art involving miniature trees that are grown in containers and “trained” to take on a certain shape.

This weekend will feature a Chinese bonsai demonstration at 1 p.m. Saturday and a bonsai basics demonstration at 1 p.m. Sunday. Guided tours are available at 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The garden is located on the Weyerhaeuser campus at 33663 Weyerhaeuser Way S. Plenty of free parking is available. To learn more, call (253) 924-5206.


Families are invited to bring a lunch and stroll the grounds of PowellsWood, a 3-acre private garden in Federal Way.

For the last decade, PowellsWood has established an annual tradition with its two-day celebration of Mother’s Day. This year’s events run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 7 and 8. The schedule includes a presentation by Ed Hume, who will discuss ways to add value to your own property. Hume will also hold a “stump the expert” session.

Also on tap are Rachel Clayton along with live music by harpist Tori Norman, plus PowellsWood’s traditional tea and cookies in the Garden Room. Look for art from Chris Stiles and Tyee Photography Alliance. Educational sessions cover topics such as landscaping, nature photography, flower arrangement and composting with worms.

The garden features eight “rooms” graced with nearly 1,000 varieties of trees, flowering shrubs and plants. Walking paths, a meandering stream, and a pond blend gently into the groves and ravines of Redondo’s historic upper Cold Creek watershed.

PowellsWood is at 430 S. Dash Point Road, Federal Way. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Contact Shawn Thomas at or (253) 529-1620 or visit

Federal Way Farmers Market

The Federal Way Farmers Market will open May 7 at the former AMC Theatres site, a 4.1-acre property at 31600 20th Ave. S. (near the transit center). The market spent its first seven seasons in the Sears parking lot at The Commons Mall. King County Master Gardeners will be available 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at the market. More than 70 vendors have signed up for the market’s opening day. Vendors will be selling fresh produce, flowers, refreshments and more. To learn more, contact Karla Kolibab at or (253) 261-8157.

Check it out

Below is a video from the 2010 Buds and Blooms festival, which is on hold for 2011. The festival featured prominent gardens in Federal Way. This video focuses on the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection and the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden:

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates