Horticulture

The Horticulture Program has a long history in Seattle Parks and Recreation. Its heritage goes back to the beginning of 20th century when the Park Commission invited the Olmsted Brothers to plan and design the framework for the park system for the City of Seattle.

Washington Park Arboretum

At present, within the 2,300 acres of developed landscapes in Seattle Parks, there are more than 280 acres of Specialty Gardens, 240 acres of plant beds and more than 1,800 acres of turf area. There is a wide variety of horticulture programs and magnificent floral displays within developed parks, and in the Japanese Garden, Kubota GardenWashington Park ArboretumVolunteer Park Conservatory, and Woodland Park Rose Garden.

The Department has its own greenhouse and nursery facilities where more than 180,000 annuals and perennials, woody ornamentals and native plants grown each year. The Department has also undertaken a number of horticultural and landscape renovation projects, trail improvement and maintenance projects, and urban reforestation program (GSP) that have successfully restored natural ecosystems.

From the very cultural to the very natural, we have horticultural programs to meet everyone's taste.

Gardens

Japanese Garden

Seattle Parks and Recreation's Specialty Gardens are some of Seattle's most beautiful and inspiring places. In addition to beauty and comfort, these gardens also provide education and conservation opportunities. They are the sparkling jewels within the Seattle Parks system.

Seattle Parks also have unique, historical designed landscapes and small gardens that are popular with the community. They offer respite from the city's noise, quiet places to sit and reflect, and a riot of color and fragrance in the spring.

The gardens and horticultural parks display diverse and unique collections of plants, landscape features, and culture heritages. They reflect the human effort to create a harmonious blend of nature and art.

Landscape Restoration Program

Landscape crew planting trees

Landscape plantings have a life span, and because our park system is over 125 years old, the Department has an ongoing program for landscape renovation and or restoration. The goal of this program is building an ongoing landscape system with sustainability and functionality in mind. The quality, safety and beauty of park landscape assets are restored so that these will be used by the current generation and be carried and maintained healthy and ecologically for next generation. This program also allows the Department to reevaluate landscape areas to determine if redesign is needed in addition to restoration. It's also an opportunity to upgrade infrastructure such as irrigation and drainage systems.

The Landscape Restoration program focuses on removal, improvement, and renovation of developed landscapes in parks, at community centers, pools, and other park facilities.  

Specific Areas of Landscape Improvement:

  • Invasive removal
  • Structural pruning of ornamental specimen trees and large shrubs
  • Tree and shrub suitability assessment and replacement
  • Low maintenance and/or water wise plant selection and landscape installation
  • Design native or ornamental planting
  • Control common weeds and invasive plants
  • Site grading and drainage solutions
  • Irrigation upgrade and adjustment
  • Erosion control
  • Path construction
  • Stairway and wall construction
  • Trail renovation and restoration
  • Shoreline (lake, pond, & waterfront) embankment restoration and erosion control
  • Urban wildlife and pollinator habitat restoration

Propagation and Production Program

Plant Propegation

Seattle Parks and Recreation has a propagation facility at Jefferson Greenhouse, to produce plants that are utilized in Parks and other city landscapes. Jefferson Greenhouse gardeners grow 100,000 to 120,000 annuals and perennials, plus an additional 75,000 woody natives and ornamentals every year. We provide these plants for the Department’s Park resources and natural areas through Green Seattle Partnership and citywide Landscape renovation programs and trail program.