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Washington Park Arboretum

Map of Washington Park Arboretum


The Washington Park Arboretum (WPA) is a living plant museum emphasizing trees and shrubs, hardy in the Maritime Pacific Northwest. Collections are selected and arranged to display their beauty and function in urban landscapes, to demonstrate their natural ecology and diversity, and to conserve important species and cultivated varieties for the future. The Arboretum serves the public, students at all levels, naturalists, gardeners, and nursery and landscape professionals with its collections, educational programs, interpretation, and recreational opportunities. It is cooperatively managed by the University of Washington, College of Forest Resources, and the Department of Parks and Recreation (City of Seattle), and supported by an active support organization (The Arboretum Foundation).
WPA is located south of the UW campus and ship canal, containing wetlands of Union Bay, the valley bottom along Arboretum Creek, and associated forested ridges. It borders the Montlake, Broadmoor, Harrison Valley, Madison Park, and Central District Neighborhoods.
David J. Mabberley, Director, University of Washington Botanic Gardens, and Professor of Horticultural Science, 206 685-2579,
230 acres.
Graham Visitors CenterDonald G. Graham Visitors Center (offices, visitor and interpretation center, meeting/classrooms); Maintenance Barn and yard (for both UW and City crews); Curatorial Annex; UW Greenhouse (classroom, demonstration space); Pat Calvert Greenhouse (propagation); Stone Cottage (security).
Grounds maintenance equipment, big tree equipment, curatorial records/supplies, educational and interpretation displays and equipment.
Stone Cottage for Grounds security.
UW owns and is responsible for the collections, all aspects of their maintenance and curation, and all the associated educational and outreach functions. The City of Seattle owns the land and performs all the aspects associated with a park. The Arboretum Foundation owns the furnishings in the Graham Visitors Center.
Major funds through the University of Washington and the City of Seattle, with annual gifts from The Arboretum Foundation as well as private and public donors; grants.
Recent Usage
Tour of the ArboretumResearch: Studies on selection and appropriateness of exotic trees and shrubs for the Northwest such as flowering cherries, Japanese maples; studies on plants from climates similar to the Northwest such as New Zealand and Chile; evaluation of native trees and shrubs within an urban forest and park land. Instruction: Used by hundreds of students in urban horticulture, urban forestry, landscape architecture, botany, and a number of liberal arts classes. Extensive continuing education and public outreach classes, tours, demonstrations for all ages. Specialized school tours and Saplings (K-5th graders). Cooperative programs with area museums and community programs. Buildings and grounds used for meetings, seminars, and other public and private events.
Usage Fee
No general admission fee. Rental fee for non-academic building and grounds use. Course and tour fees vary. Japanese Garden, mangaged by the City, has fee.
Collections began in 1934 as the Arboretum opened. James Dawson, of Olmsted Brother firm, Brookline, MA drew first plan. Most of the early construction carried out by CCC and WPA work forces during depression times. An updated Master Plan adopted in 1978. After 7 years of debate, an comprehensive strategic Master Plan, "Renewing the Aroboretum" was adopted by both the City Council and UW Board of Regents in May 2001. This calls for $45 million worth of improvements, renovations, and attention to public accessibiltiy issues. Many of the collections are aging and modern landscape designs need to be implemented.
Telephone: 206-543-8800, 206-543-8801
FAX: 206-325-8893
By automobile, bus (tour or school), bicycle, or city transit.
Unique Environment
Contains over 4400 different taxa totaling nearly 10,000 accessions. In addtion, it is estimated that over 10,000 native trees exist on the grounds. It is the largest collection of temperate woody plants in the Northern Hemisphere. The colletions are displayed in taxonomic, eco-geographic, diplay and natural arrangements. Azalea Way is the historic spine of the Arboretum.
Arboretum Director David J. Mabberley; Staff: Grounds and Buildings Supervisor, Lead Supervisor of Grounds, Plant Technicians (1 1/2), Arborist, Gardeners (3 1/2), Education Specialists (1 1/2), Collections Manager and Assistant, Facilities Supervisors (1 1/2), Seasonal Gardeners (4-8) and Weekend Managers Active Volunteers in all areas of work. 3000 member Arboretum Foundation support for volunteers and funding. Active intern and student project involvement. CUH faculty associated with Arboretum include: CUH Director Tom Hinckley: Faculty: Linda Chalke-Scott, Sarah Reichad, Kern Ewing, Al Wagar, Kathy Wolf. Landscape architecture: Iain Robertson. Botany: Tsuka. Arboretum Foundation has 6 1/2 staff. City of Seattle has 4 grounds staff and 1-3 seasonals.
Snowfall on cherry trees