The Rhododendron Preserve: The Preserve, located off Seabeck Highway in Bremerton, is one of the region’s largest remaining lowland virgin forests and home to the Chico Creek watershed, with 68 miles of streams. Chum, steelhead, Coho, and cutthroat trout cut their way through the lush habitat under the cover of soaring western red cedar, pine trees, and Douglas fir. ketalegacy.org/rhododendron-preserve/
Lakewold Gardens: You’ll feel like you’ve wandered into a French painting. Lakewold Gardens, a historically recognized garden estate in Lakewood, was designed by popular 20th-century landscape architects and people who were generous enough to leave their labor of love for the public to enjoy. lakewoldgardens.org
Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden: You will want to take photos when the thousands of rhodies start to burst with color in Federal Way. Take a stroll through 22 acres of the rhodies, an alpine garden, a flowery meadow, and to the glass house conservatory. The Pacific Bonsai Museum exhibit is connected. rhodygarden.org
Pacific Bonsai Museum: This local bonsai museum in Federal Way is one of two in the country. The museum features a collection of 150 bonsai with geographical diversity that spans the globe. There is a recently published book about the collection called A Gallery of Trees: Living Art of Pacific Bonsai Museum. pacificbonsaimuseum.org
Bloedel Reserve: You will discover something new every time you visit the 150 acres of gardens at Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. From the beautiful Japanese garden, to the soft moss garden, woodlands, trails, and more, there is beauty at every angle. The creators were Prentiss and Virginia Bloedel, and the French chateau where they lived for 35-plus years is open for tours. There also is a resident artist house on the property that is still used. So inspiring! bloedelreserve.org
Heronswood: Owned and maintained by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the 15-acre Kingston gem features botanicals from around the world, many collected by the former owner and well-known plant hunter Dan Hinkley. heronswood.com
The Bellevue Botanical Garden: Stroll through 53 acres of gardens, from dahlia displays to rock gardens, ferns, perennials, and more. Watch its calendar year-round for special events and educational opportunities. bellevuebotanical.org
Powellswood: It’s three acres in the middle of a forest in Federal Way, like a secret garden. It’s a perfect place for a picnic near the stream and duck pond. powellswood.org
The University of Washington Botanic Gardens: There is a lot to see if you head to this Seattle favorite. There are 230 acres at the Washington Park Arboretum and many thematic gardens with plants from around the world. Also learn more at the Center for Urban Horticulture, managed by the UW Botanic Gardens. botanicgardens.uw.edu
Point Defiance Park: This is a family picnic and portrait favorite in Tacoma. Stop and smell the flowers in the rose garden, find your Zen in the Japanese Garden, and hike through the rhodies in the woods. metroparkstacoma.org
Washington State Capitol: The gardens surrounding the state capital in Olympia are colorful and stunning, especially in spring and summer. Take time to check them out.
Dunn Gardens: Dunn Gardens in Seattle was created by the Olmsted Brothers Landscape firm in 1915. More than a century later, people still are enjoying walks along the winding wooded trails and past spectacular rhododendrons. Guided tours start in April and run through July and then again in the fall. dunngardens.org
Tiptoe Through the Tulips in April: April is Skagit Valley Tulip Festival time. Hop in the car and get ready to take the prettiest photos as millions of tulips bloom all month long. There are many places to buy bouquets, take pictures, eat lunch, and more. Go to tulipfestival.org to get a map to plan your adventure, and get the latest news on the blooms, since Mother Nature is in charge.