Pacific Connections Garden

Tour the forests of the Pacific Rim without leaving Seattle

The Pacific Connections Garden is a key component of the 2001 Master Plan and the first major new exhibit in the Arboretum in nearly 50 years. Located at the south end of the Arboretum, it ties together five regions within the Pacific Rim that have climates similar to ours in Seattle:

  1. Cascadia (the Siskiyous, Oregon)
  2. Chile (Valdivia region)
  3. China (Mount Emei, Sichuan)
  4. Australia (New South Wales mountain region)
  5. New Zealand (South Island mountain region)

Visitors to the garden marvel at the diversity of plants from these regions that thrive in the Northwest, such as monkey puzzle trees from Chile, giant Himalayan lilies from China, gum trees from Australia, flaxes from New Zealand. An open-walled interpretive shelter—made from recycled Arboretum cedars and carved with patterns inspired by indigenous cultures living in each of the five regions—teaches visitors about the vital importance of plants in different societies and ecosystems.

A Multiphase Project

The Pacific Connections Garden is a long-term, multiphase project that will eventually encompass 12 acres and feature five eco-geographic immersion forests surrounding a central grassy meadow and a series of entry gardens. Large portions of it are already complete.

Pacific Connections Phase 1: Following a $2.2 million donation from the Foundation to the City of Seattle, the first phase of the garden was completed and opened to the public in fall 2008. It included the central welcoming meadow; interpretive shelter; five entry gardens, showcasing horticultural plants and iconic species from all five of the focus regions; and the grading, pathways, and retaining walls for the Cascadia Forest.

Pacific Connections Phase 2: In 2009, the Foundation raised $425,000 to help create the Gateway to Chile, a stunning half-acre display of Chilean trees and shrubs at the southern intersection of Arboretum Drive and Lake Washington Boulevard. 

In summer 2012, we launched a major campaign to fund the construction, planting, and maintenance of the New Zealand Forest. We raised more than $1.1 million for the project, while the City of Seattle provided an additional $745,000 through the 2008 Parks and Green Space Levy. Construction of the two-acre New Zealand Forest was completed in late summer, 2013. 

Planting the Cascadia Forest will be a gradual process, taking place over the course of several years, as plant material propagated from wild-collected seeds matures and becomes ready for installation. The Foundation has raised $275,000 for this planting work.

Pacific Connections Future Phases: Campaigns to fund the construction of the remaining forests (Chile, China, Australia) will be launched in the near future.

A Conservation Garden

A key feature of the Pacific Connections Garden is that all of the plant material in the new forests is being propagated from seed collected in the wild. The UW Botanic Gardens is conducting expeditions to collect seed for the new forests. Using wild-collected seed of known provenance in the garden will allow Arboretum staff to practice ex-situ (or off-site) conservation of plant species that are threatened—or may become so—in their homelands.

Related Links:

UW Botanic Gardens web page for the Pacific Connections Garden.

Enter the Entry Gardens,” Arboretum Bulletin, Fall 2008.

Design and Plantings of the New Zealand Forest,” Arboretum Bulletin, Summer 2013.

Plants in the New Gateway to Chile Garden,” Arboretum Bulletin, Fall 2010.

Header photo by: Name of Person

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How you can help

Make a gift to fund collection renovation in the Arboretum (you can designate a gift in the “comments” section of our donation form). To learn more, please email our Advancement Director, Lane DeCamp, or call him at 360-390-8685.