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Northwest Gardening: Rhododendron Species and Botanical Garden

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Located between Seattle and Tacoma, the Rhododendron Species and Botanical Garden boasts an awe-inspiring collection of species rhododendrons and companion plants.

white blooms
Ybsilandra thibetica

What the heck is that? A visit to the Rhododendron Species Garden will leave anyone pointing with awe. You'll find weird, wonderful and exotic rhododendrons and thousands of their companion plants thriving in this lush, 22-acre public garden. Where else could you lay eyes on a Ybsilandra thibetica, as shown in this photo?

Located between Seattle and Tacoma, this little-known treasure is easy to get to, but never crowded. After paying a small entrance fee, you'll feel as if you've stepped into your own secret garden. Save a visit to the lovely gift shop and well-stocked nursery until after you've explored the extensive grounds.

double-file viburnums

Woodland trails, a gazebo that overlooks a rock garden, a special bonsai collection and a new tropical greenhouse all work to highlight the species of wild rhododendrons collected from around the globe. Ranging in size from 4-inch miniatures to gigantic timber rhododendrons, some of these release a fragrance as you wander nearby.

Come for the rhodies but fall in love with the companion plants. Home gardeners will meet groundcovers, such as candelabra primroses lining a pathway; mature blooming shrubs, including double-file viburnums; and enjoy planting combinations to inspire the most discerning designer. Pink rhododendrons underplanted with early pink heathers are just double sweet.

Pink rhododendrons underplanted with early pink heathers

This well-kept garden is at peak bloom from March through July, and the open meadow can be rented for weddings and private events. Even a winter visit on a rainy day can be fascinating. Volunteers are mailing seeds all over the world, helping with botanical research and propagating and conserving rare rhododendrons.

The Rhododendron Species and Botanical Garden boasts the finest collection of species rhododendrons and companion plants on the planet. Have you been here for a visit?

Rhododendron Species and Botanical Garden

Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Monday, closed major holidays. Admission charged.

2525 South 336th St. Federal Way, WA 98003 (253) 838-4646

www.rhodygarden.org