The Washington Park Arboretum is an urban green space along the shores of Lake Washington just east of downtown Seattle and south of the University of Washington. The park contains internationally recognized plant collections on approximately 230 acres of land. The woody plant collections include Hollies, conifers and camellias, Sorbus and Maple, and a large collection of oaks. The entire area is a living plant museum that prides itself in servicing the public, students at all levels, naturalists, gardeners, and nursery and landscape professionals with its collections, educational programs, interpretation, and recreational opportunities.
The Washington Park Arboretum was established in 1934 by an agreement approved by both University of Washington and the City of Seattle (City Council/Mayor). The City of Seattle held title to a 200+ acre park known as Washington Park located in a central portion of the city. The agreement was that the University could design, build, plant, and manage an Arboretum and Botanical Garden in this park. The Arboretum Foundation was founded in 1935 and has been an active participant ever since.
The Graham Visitors Center, which is located on the north end of the Arboretum, not only serves to welcome the public, but also offers rental spaces that are available for meetings, classes, conferences, exhibitions, weddings, and many other social gatherings. Nestled among the beautifully maintained collections and in close proximity to downtown Seattle and the University of Washington, the Graham Visitors Center is an ideal setting for any type of event.
There are two large areas available for rent at the Visitors Center - the Large Meeting Room and adjacent patio that is able to accommodate 100-150 guests and the Small Conference Room with a capacity of just 10 people. For evening and weekend events, there is an on-site Event Staff Assistant that is responsible for set-up/breakdown of tables and chairs, vacuuming, and garbage/recycling disposal. The facility also provides assistance for any building-related issues including AV equipment troubleshooting and security. Renters are responsible for supplying everything else: tents for the Patio, silverware/plates/cups, coffee filters, tablecloths, and any additional furniture.
The Arboretum changes throughout the year and various plants can be viewed at their peak during each and every month. In January, visitors can observe heather, holly, witch hazel, and hellebore in the Winter Garden, whereas in June the area is covered with rockroses, Korean dogwood, rhododendrons, brooms, and stewartia. The fall season screams color with Japanese maples, strawberry trees, and mountain ash at full display. Bird watching is done best in the Arboretum in May, June, July, September, and October. Trail and garden maps, as well as plant and bird name lists are available at the visitors' center upon arrival or online.
The Arboretum is open from dawn to dusk seven days a week. The gates on the north and south end of Arboretum Drive East are closed during non-open hours. The Graham Visitors Center is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. seven days a week. Admission to the Washington Park Arboretum is free.