One of the joys of living in the Puget Sound is that as the dark days of winter give way to spring light, the great Northwest starts blooming. Spring has sprouted in Federal Way and the summer gardening season is upon us.
Many of us annually make the trek to La Conner, Wash. for the tulip festival. The town grows well beyond its capacity, the city’s parking lots are full and the fruit and vegetable stands, quaint shops, restaurants and art galleries experience a multitude of patrons. The color and quantity of flowers at the Roozengaade gardens is spectacular. Family pictures and memories are made there every year.
Much closer to home, Federal Way has several gardening jewels. On the corporate campus of Weyerhaeuser are the Rhododendron Species Garden and the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection. PowellsWood is a local garden that deserves regional recognition.
By all means, visit La Conner, as well as other gardens in our area but I recommend we all support Federal Way’s specialty gardens. The Weyerhaeuser gardens are a big deal, but many of us are likely to visit La Conner for the tulips before we explore the hometown resources.
Our mayor and City Council are discussing ways to improve this city’s regional presence and identity. I suggest they consider using Mother Nature’s gift to us, and work to become a city of gardens combined with a focus on art and culture.
La Conner is an annual destination spot because tulip growers capitalized on what they were doing anyway. The Rhododendron Species Garden has the potential to be a destination driver for Federal Way. The organization already hosts multiple events. In May, they will host a Mother’s Day Weekend on May 10-11.
Blue Poppy Day is May 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event, which is co-sponsored by the city of Federal Way, is designed to showcase the talents of local artists, musicians and performers as garden patrons explore the uniqueness of the grounds and enjoy colorful blue poppies.
Also in May, the Rhododendron Species Garden has a special installation of glass sculptures within the Rutherford Conservatory’s lush botanical setting, weaving together art and nature. What is on display was created by the students of Hilltop Artists, a non-profit glass art studio established in 1994 with the help of Dale Chihuly to connect young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to better futures. Their art glass sculptures are showcased alongside the inspiring plant collections of the garden.
PowellsWood is a unique garden and a personal passion of the Powell family that they share with the community. The three acres of PowellsWood are defined by a series of hedges that separate several distinct garden rooms graced with more than a thousand varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials.
The Powell family also hosts the PowellsWood Story Telling Festival at the garden. This year’s festival will take place July 18-19. Many of the storytellers showcasing their skills in the garden are internationally known. This event is quality entertainment and offers educational opportunities. The workshops help aspiring storytellers grow their skills at self-expression.
Federal Way is home to many fine residential gardens and a selected few are showcased as part of the Federal Way Symphony Garden Tour. This year’s tour takes place on Saturday, July 19.
Annually, Federal Way blooms and is a city with gardens worth viewing. The landscaping of our homes, parks, medians, entryways, right-of-ways, trails and corporate campuses should be encouraged and up scaled to define this city as a city of gardens. With a little effort, Federal Way can be a premier garden tourist destination.
Federal Way resident Keith Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org