Display Garden

Header photo by: David Rosen, SlickPix Photography

At the annual Northwest Flower & Garden Festival

2023 (The Arboretum Foundation will not be participating in 2022)

Washington State Convention Center

Each year the Arboretum Foundation, with support from its City and University partners at the Arboretum, presents a horticultural display at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. We use the display to showcase the Arboretum’s prized plant collections and gardens, as well as features like the park’s diverse wildlife and sustainable practices.

Gateway to a Greener Earth (2020)

At the 2020 Garden Festival (February 26 to March 1), the Arboretum honored the 50th anniversary of Earth Day (April 2020) with a globe-shaped garden representing the diversity of plants from around the world found in our 230 acres. A mix of native and non-native trees formed the backdrop to the display, while species rhododendrons and other understory plants made up the foreground. A curving, stone pathway bisected the display, connecting an arbor-like wattle “gateway” near the front of the garden to a wooden bench at the back.

Specimen trees and shrubs highlighted the important contributions to conservation made by the Arboretum and other botanic gardens. These included: the stately dawn redwood, nearly extinct in its homeland of China, but now preserved in public gardens worldwide; the wonderfully symmetrical monkey puzzle tree, endangered in its native Chile and Argentina, but a cultivation success story in the Arboretum and Seattle at large; and the mysterious, beautifully flowered Franklin tree, extinct in its eastern U.S. range, but providing four-season interest in multiple garden sites all over the world.

2020 Display Garden filled with exotic and rare plants that are under conservation around the world.

Photo by: David Rosen, SlickPix Photography

Our display focused on how the Arboretum—through its collection of 40,000 plants from six continents—allows visitors to both experience the diversity of life first-hand and understand how gardens (public and private) can be sanctuaries for its preservation. Gardens can protect sensitive, threatened, and endangered species through “ex-situ” (or “off-site”) conservation, acting as genetic repositories for plants in trouble in their homelands.

The plant collection at Washington Park Arboretum contains hundreds of specimens of conservation concern. It’s a “gene bank” for potential future restoration/reintroduction efforts and also a vibrant, living classroom for engaging and educating the public on the topic of conservation.

More photos: See more pics of the garden on our Facebook page.

2020 Festival Awards: “Gateway to a Greener Earth” was awarded a Gold Medal by the Festival judges, plus it won the awards for Best Use of Horticulture and Best Use of Color.

Photo by: David Rosen, SlickPix Photography

Design Team

For the 11th year in a row, renowned local plantsman Bob Lilly and award-winning designer Phil Wood created our display garden, in collaboration with Seattle architect Roger Williams.

Design committee (in addition to the designers): Barbara BonJour, Alyssa Henry, Joanna Long, Jane Stonecipher. A special thanks to board member Mike Riley, for his regular support in procuring plants and building our Garden.

Set construction was done by L.W. Sundstrom, Inc. 

If you’d like to help with our display garden build or take down, or if you’d like to act as a docent, please email or call us at 206-325-4510.

Past Arboretum Displays

2019 Display Garden

Our 2019 Display Garden, featuring a mediterranean villa and garden with fountain

Our 2019 Display Garden “Under the Mediterranean Sun” featured a white and blue villa and geometric plaza, with a tiled pathway leading to a cooling fountain; around the plaza were specimen plants featured in warm mediterannean climates, like boxwood and lavendar shrubs, and olive and citrus trees.

2018 Display Garden

Striking white arbor sits amongst vibrant winter blooming plants in a celebration of Carnival

Our “Arboretum Carnavale: Wonders of the Winter Garden” paid homage to the Washington Park Arboretum’s iconic Witt Winter Garden. It featured an abundance of plants  that peak in interest at a time of year when most gardens are dormant or subdued. These include plants bloom in winter, boast colorful winter foliage or bark, produce winter fragarance, or offer unique textures for winter interest.

Earth Day Volunteers Pull 50+ Cubic Yards of Weeds!

Earth Day Volunteers Pull 50+ Cubic Yards of Weeds!

A total of 116 volunteers participated in our annual Earth Day at the Arboretum work-service event on April 23. They removed more than 50 cubic yards of ivy, blackberry, and other invasive weeds from plant collection beds and natural areas—covering a combined area of...

Arboretum-Based Research Tackles the Azalea Lace Bug

Arboretum-Based Research Tackles the Azalea Lace Bug

Since 2015, the invasive azalea lace bug (Stephanitis pyrioides) has been causing serious damage to azaleas and rhododendrons in our state, including in the Arboretum. A tiny aphid relative, the lace bug removes chlorophyll from Rhododendron foliage, weakening the...

Wild and Wonderful Willows of the Arboretum

Wild and Wonderful Willows of the Arboretum

Beautiful willows, such as the Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys' pictured here, are blooming in the Arboretum's Witt Winter Garden and beyond. In the latest issue of the Arboretum Bulletin, writer and estate gardener Daniel Mount discusses the wild and weedy willows...