Passionate About Rhododendrons
Open, arching Japanese maples rise above moss-covered rocks and the city sidewalk. As you step up from the walk, a Japanese stone cat peeks out from a rhododendron to your left and a friendly blue turtle welcomes you into the garden.
Turning right, a gravel path leads you past small rhododendrons, ferns, Brunnera, pots of hostas, small azaleas, a stone basin for birds and a garden bench watched over by Sammy the frog. A bit further along you will meet ‘Dame Nellie Melba’, a graceful hybrid rhododendron planted in 1962, standing tall at over fifteen feet.
After admiring the grandeur of ‘Dame Nellie’, continue left into a small circular courtyard and right through the lattice gate leading to a gentle slope of layered plantings. Japanese maple, mountain laurel (Kalmia), potted shrubs, magnolia, dogwood, stewartia, and one-of a-kind garden sculptures and art mix in quietly with the plantings.
The rhododendrons – have you noticed them, large and small, right and left? There is a story behind every one. Gwen’s passion for rhododendrons has taken her around the world to China, Japan, New Zealand, England, even trekking up the slopes of Mt. Kanchenjunga in Sikkim to see these plants in their native habitats.
After moving to Seattle from southern California, a walk through her mother-in-law’s garden, abloom with rhododendrons, inspired a life-long passion. Gwen finds inspiration in local gardens, books, and plant breeding associations. Now in her 90’s, Gwen’s garden has changed many times over the years and she now shares her garden with daughter-in-law, Ikumi, who lends her own artistic hand in the garden.