Need a break from working in the garden? Visiting a public garden is a great way to get out on a nice summer day. Many farms and nurseries also have display gardens.
Here are some of my favorite public gardens, as well as some that I keep meaning to visit. Many are free, but some have admission fees.
GIG HARBOR AND KEY PENINSULA
Sehmel Homestead Park hosts a Washington State University Pierce County Master Gardener demonstration garden. It is open to the public from 9 to 11:30 a.m. year round. They host plant clinics from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month, April through September. It features a raised vegetable garden and a heritage garden.
Wilkinson Farm Park Historic Homestead also has a community garden, plus a 16-acre park to explore.
The owners of Blue Willow Lavender Farm give personal tours and historical talks and demonstrations about colonial America. Just between Vaughn and state Route 302 on Wright Bliss Road, the farm is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
And if you can’t get enough of its blissfully fragrant flowers, the Sequim Lavender Festival is coming up Friday through Sunday.
KITSAP AND OLYMPIC PENINSULAS
The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island offers 150 acres that blend natural woodlands and beautifully landscaped gardens, including a Japanese garden, a moss garden and a reflection pool. Its summer hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
Heronswood in Kingston was founded by Dan Hinkley, a renowned plant explorer and nurseryman, and it’s now owned and operated by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. It features thousands of plant varieties that have been carefully documented, cultivated and preserved for scientific, educational and ornamental purposes. It has an open garden and plant sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 7.
Albers Vista Gardens is an oasis in the heart of Bremerton and focuses on sustainable landscapes. It is open for private tours and events.
Whitney Rhododendron Gardens is one of my favorite stops when I do the loop around Hood Canal. It is located in Brinnon on the Olympic Peninsula between Quilcene and Hoodsport.
Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood features 10 acres of rare and native plants, state-champion trees, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, stunning statuary and a Georgian-style mansion. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, April through September.
Point Defiance Park encompasses 702 acres. Its rose garden was my wedding location. You also may enjoy the Japanese garden and many other formal flower beds. The rhododendron garden features large, old rhododendrons in a forest setting. The Northwest native plant garden is tucked away to the right as you leave the zoo’s parking area through the main entrance.
Just outside the park, Jungle Fever Nursery specializes in unusual, exotic landscape plants.
The W.W. Seymour Conservatory in Wright Park is a Victorian-style greenhouse. It features tropical plants and seasonal flower displays. Just eight blocks south of Wright Park, Gallucci Learning Garden is an urban demonstration garden designed to foster a gardening community and to teach people how to grow and cook fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables.
PUYALLUP AND ORTING
The Puyallup Master Gardener demonstration garden is located directly across from the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center. It features a children’s garden, vegetable, herb, rose and shade gardens, as well as a composting demonstration area. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from March to October.
Chase Garden is a 4 1/2-acre garden conservancy preservation project located south of Orting near Mount Rainier. It features Japanese-inspired ponds and bridges, an alpine wildflower meadow and a woodland garden with native shrubs, perennials and groundcovers. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from April through October.
So much to see and do. The summer is too short.In the Garden columnist Dana Kelley Bressette can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.