Rhododendron Species Foundation & Molbac’s Nursery (Washington State)


We left for Seattle later today than expected for our annual pilgrimage north for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Though possible snow is forecast for later in the week, there is no way I was going to miss this last big outing with my husband before he leaves for his vineyard work in California.

We wanted to see the reopened Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection housed at the Weyerhaeuser Corporate site, but due to the time crunch, we had to pick between it and its neighbor the Rhododendron Species Foundation with the hope that maybe I could see them both again soon.

As always, the pollarded trees and the architecture at one of the largest paper pulp companies in the world did not disappoint. This is where your visit begins.

Weyerhaeuser Corporate Offices, Federal Way (WA)
Taking the path back to the gardens’ entrance I grew very excited for some reason when I saw these native sword ferns. We have them at our house, and I grew up with them all over at my parent’s house, but when they are placed so carefully here, sitting among a carpet of moss, they are simply really beautiful. We also began to see many other familiar foliar faces from before.

At the entrance is this Rhododendron sinogrande. I broke down and bought one because I have wanted one for so long. They have very large leaves and grow well in our climate.

Once in the garden we found these huge Magnolia leaves all over. There is something sometimes so Jurassic about this place. When I say that I like Dr Seussian designs, this is what I mean. I love that awkward unreal feeling of holding a leaf like this in my hand!

No. I did not draw on my finger. I have a tattoo for a wedding ring.
This is what a Rhododendron forest looks like. Up until I saw this for the first time, I had only read about them in plant explores’ journals from long ago.

The irony of this scene is not lost to anyone familiar with the timber industry. This is part of the garden and it has been planted. As a child I played in a huge mass of roots similar to these and I find this scene very homey in a way.

Adiantum venustum en masse.

I only made it as far as the hothouse at the Pacific Rim Bonsai collection but I was not disappointed.

We had to get out to the suburbs for a small wine pouring and my other stop was missed so I dropped my husband off and then backtracked to Woodinville, WA to go to Molbak’s Garden + Home. I love this place and they have a great selection of houseplants so you can only imagine my pseudo embarrassment when I admit that the Northwest Flower and Garden Show hasn’t even started yet and here I am filling the car up before a snowstorm.

More from the show tomorrow!