Tacoma gardens to visit this spring By Rachel Kelly
Spring has arrived! And with it pure bliss. Not like the winter was especially bad this last year (where were you El Niño?), but as usual it was dark and cloudy. Rather than using artificial lights to amp up your energy, spring means sunshine in the outdoors. March heralds the arrival of the crocuses and cherry blossoms, and April the daffodils. May usually sees the blossoming of the endless carpets of tulips, whose arrival is just around the corner. For many, spring is a time to start planting. But it’s also a time to start getting out more.
Getting out when the mountain is out takes no encouragement. The smell of blossoms heavy in the air, woven in with the sharp smell of eucalyptus and salt. There’s just nothing like it. Combine that with some extra sun, and the shedding of winter’s heavy layers, and you have a recipe for a fun day. This year, as we all flock outside with purpose, the local gardens that are so prolific in our area are sure to be especially popular. Popular places such as Lakewold Gardens, the Seymour Conservatory, and the Native Plant Garden in Point Defiance Park are supported by Metro Parks as well as several other organizations, the most notable one being the Tacoma Garden Club.
The Tacoma Garden Club began on March 24, in 1925. It entered into the larger international Garden Club of America in 1928. Soon after that it became incorporated. In 1990, the Tacoma Garden Club made the decision to categorize itself as a nonprofit, a distinction that it continues to hold to this day. The Tacoma Garden Club is most notable for their passion for gardening and their belief in responsible stewardship of the environment, two goals that often go hand in hand. The Tacoma Garden Club fulfills these goals through education, activism, partnerships and generosity.
This passion for gardening has culminated in a variety of positive outcomes for our community over its almost 100-year operation. One of its notable community contributions is its community grants program, which allocates funds yearly to various community organizations. The organization recipients then use the funds in line with the Tacoma Garden Club’s mission to stimulate a love of gardening, protect the quality of the environment, and to encourage civic involvement. This last year, small grants were granted to the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association, Salishan Association, Lakewold Gardens, Food is Free Project, Emergency Food Network’s Mother Earth Farm Project, and Cousin Cooperative Pollinators and Propagators. Project money has gone toward providing supplies for building gardens, protecting gardeners, cataloging rare garden species, and the encouragement of greener garden supplies. In the past, funds have been used to build community gardens, provide for outdoor garden spaces and food preservation, along with a variety of other community projects. The Garden Club’s partnerships include well-known gardens and organizations such as Lakewold Gardens and the Seymour Botanical Conservatory Foundation. It seems that most gardens in the city are either connected to or have received funding from the Tacoma Garden Club.
Tacoma is full of some pretty phenomenal people bent on creating spaces for relaxation, knowledge, preservation and beauty. By working together and connecting with one another, instead of competing against each other, Tacoma is that much more beautiful. Especially in the spring. Thanks to organizations such as the Tacoma Garden Club, there is a lot to see.
One of the focuses of the Tacoma Garden Club is to care for the Native Plant Garden in Point Defiance Park. This garden is full of various berries (elderberry and wild strawberry) and evergreens, and is great for families with small children who have a tendency to put things in their mouths. Much of the garden is edible. This year they have plans to renovate parts of the garden to allow for gardening demos that will showcase how gardeners can incorporate native plants into their home gardens.
Also in Point Defiance Park are the gorgeous Rose Gardens, with a rose tunnel that is stunning when in bloom. There is also the Rhododendron Garden, which is in full bloom in spring, and the Dahlia garden, which is considerably more gorgeous in the summer. Another noteworthy garden is the Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, which feature a large expanse for walking and professional photography. This garden is famous, and for good reason. It’s beautiful and full of life. The PowellsWood garden in Federal Way is similar to Lakewold Gardens in style. However, there is a small fee to enter both gardens that goes toward the gardens’ upkeep.
There are also many free choices to appreciate gardens around the city. Gardens such as the Chinese Reconciliation Park, which is a garden that was built in the spirit of reconciliation to the Chinese people. The garden boasts winding bridges, flowers, statuary, waterfront views, a tidal grotto, educational plaques, and an open pavilion. There’s the Tacoma Nature Center, which is wonderful for small children. Outdoors there is the year-round beauty of the walking trails, which circle around a lake and a marsh area; indoors there are books, tanks with turtles and fish, and fun educational activities. Under construction and soon to reopen in May is the Seymour Botanical Conservatory, which can be enjoyed no matter the weather. There are often community activities and events within the conservatory, so that is something to keep an eye on throughout this spring and summer.
There is something for everyone in Tacoma. Whether you’re a botanist, photographer, nature lover, garden enthusiast, forager, or preservationist, there are lots of places to get out this spring. There’s something for every interest. For home gardeners, there’s a variety of community gardens to get involved in, as well as plenty of educational opportunities offered by organizations such as the Tacoma Garden Club. If you want to become a part of the Tacoma Garden Club, membership does cost a nominal fee, which allows the club to offer exceptional programming for active members and the larger community.
For more information on the Tacoma Garden Club and their partners, visit TacomaGardenClub.org. On that website can be found a lot of information about the parks mentioned above. However, more extensive information can be found through Metro Parks, under which many of the gardens listed above are overseen.