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  • Get to Know the Arboretum: 5 Projects, 5 Programs, and 5 Plans for the Future

Storytime at the Fiddleheads Forest School in the Arboretum. (Photo by UW Botanic Gardens)

The Arboretum Foundation works in close partnership with UW Botanic Gardens and Seattle Parks and Recreation to support, manage, and advocate for the incredible green spaces at the Washington Park Arboretum and Seattle Japanese Garden. We bring people and plants together to cultivate a more sustainable, inspired, and just community.


  • Rhododendron Glen Renewal—With the help of some generous gifts from long-term donors and volunteers, we are renewing the original vision of one of the Arboretum’s first planted landscapes and restoring ecological function to the stream that runs through it. Read more.
  • Arboretum Headwaters—With the superb leadership of our partners at the Friends of Arboretum Creek, we are working to bring one of the Arboretum’s most important features back to its original function as a healthy, fish-bearing stream. Read more.
  • Japanese Garden North Wall and Pavilion—Working with Japanese stonemasons on plans to upgrade the Garden’s north wall has served as a catalyst to address other elements envisioned in the original 1960 design that were never built, including a pavilion set on the hill above the north end of the pond.
  • Woodland Meadow—The only large outdoor gathering space in the Arboretum is plagued by soggy soils and lack of services and infrastructure. We are reimagining this area as a dynamic and functional gathering space for performances, festivals, and celebrations.
  • Arboretum North Entry—A generational opportunity presents itself as 28 acres of land are scheduled to be returned to park use when the SR 520 project is completed at the end of this decade. Efforts have already begun to envision the possibilities for what could become a character-defining open space for Seattle and the region.

Five projects we’re working on: 1. Rhododendron Glen 2. Arboretum Headwaters 3. Japanese Garden North Wall 4. Woodland Meadow 5. North Entry


  • Fiddleheads Forest Preschool—This groundbreaking program managed by our UW partners provides our youngest learners with the opportunity to learn about the world while being immersed in the magical outdoor spaces of the Arboretum. Read more.
  • Cultural Programs at the Japanese Garden—The Seattle Japanese Garden provides the perfect backdrop for public programs featuring butoh dancing, taiko drumming, dementia-friendly arts activities, and photography for children and adults.
  • Public Art—After completing the restoration of the Tsutakawa Memorial Gates, the Arboretum partners are working with renowned artist John Grade on his next installation right here in the Arboretum.
  • Arborist Program—Did you know the Arboretum has one of the five largest woody plant collections in North America? Support for our arborists helps ensure that our most important assets remain safe, healthy, and beautiful well into the future. Read more.
  • Youth Programs—Our dynamic K-12 programming includes summer camps, field trips, and an innovative high school internship program that brings the Arboretum’s nature education message to schools around Seattle.

two women in kimonos at a garden party

The Arboretum Foundation manages cultural programs and fundraising for the Japanese Garden.


  • Partnerships Lab—The Foundation and our UW and City partners were accepted into this Central Park Conservancy program in early 2022 with the goal of reimagining our partnership. The intensive, nine-month program helped us make exciting progress, details of which we’ll be sharing soon.
  • Strategic Plan—Our board met over several months in 2022 to establish goals for the next three years. With so many exciting opportunities ahead, it was a great chance to set priorities and plan for the future.
  • Watershed Task Force—Representatives from all three partners along with the Friends of Arboretum Creek are engaged in an effort to coordinate all the stream, wetland, and shoreline restoration work that is occurring around the park.
  • Equity and Justice Conversations with Staff —These meetings create an ongoing dialogue for bringing together the best ideas about inviting everyone in our community to share in the bounty of these special places. Read more.
  • Community Survey—After successfully lobbying for State legislative funding, we are preparing for a wide-ranging community engagement effort in 2023 to help understand the needs of both our current visitors and those we wish to better serve in the future.

Our Watershed Task Force is working to improve the hydrology of the Arboretum’s creek and wetlands.