If there’s one thing Pacific Northwesterners know how to do well, it’s take full advantage of sunshiny, outdoor-stroll-worthy weather. Now that the sun has finally decided to show up, there is no better way to celebrate Seattle’s season of bloom than to stop and smell the flowers.

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With vibrant azalea, fragrant roses, ornate fuchsia and lush grassy meadows filling everything from hidden neighborhood pocket parks to sprawling acres of botanical gardens, Seattle is a garden lover’s paradise! Can’t decide where to begin your sun-soaked flower finding adventures? We’ve got you covered with our guide to 10 Seattle gardens to visit for swoon-worthy blooms. Dig in!

1. UW Arboretum

Spanning 230 acres of land, the University of Washington Arboretum houses a dynamic collection of plants, some of which are found nowhere else in the Northwest! Planning a visit in the spring? Be sure to walk down Azalea Way to catch a glimpse of the brilliant blooms alongside flowering cherry and dogwood trees. If you’re here in the summer, stop by the Japanese Garden and stroll along its tranquil water features.

On a springtime visit to the UW Arboretum, be sure to walk down Azalea Way to peep the bushes while they’re in bloom!
Photo: Zhen Hu

With seven different gardens on the grounds – from the verdant Woodland Garden to the kaleidoscopic Rhododendron Glen – you’re bound to discover something new each time you visit. (Insider tip: Don’t forget to check the Arboretum’s Event Calendar to learn about free events such as family nature classes and tree identification walks!)

2. Woodland Park Rose Garden

Follow your nose to the heavenly aroma of the Woodland Park Rose Garden! One of only two dozen certified American Rose Test Gardens in the country, the 2.5-acre garden boasts more than 3,000 roses and 200 playfully-named varieties such as All That Jazz and What a Peach. At its picturesque peak from May through August, the Rose Garden showcases new rose hybrids before they become available to amateur rose enthusiasts.

Fragrant blooms abound at the Woodland Park Rose Garden. Photo: Asad Nazir

Starting in 2006, the garden pledged to go completely pesticide-free. Among the numerous benefits of this switch is that they’re now able to feed “spent” flowers to the animals at the Woodland Park Zoo. The blooms are particularly popular with the zoo’s gorillas, who have developed quite a taste for them!

3. Streissguth Gardens

Spread over a terraced hillside, Streissguth Gardens is an urban oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Though it only covers about an acre of land, this sloping garden punches above its weight with stunning views of Lake Union, downtown Seattle and the Olympic Mountains.

Lush vegetation meets multicolored flora at Streissguth Gardens. Photo: Flickr user brewbooks

Though springtime is generally your best bet for bloom-spotting, the garden’s plantings have been selected to offer flowers 365 days a year. Along with the beautiful vegetation and scenic vistas, visitors can also enjoy winding walking trails, gurgling ponds and plenty of chirping birds at this neighborhood haven.

4. Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden

Meander through seven acres of exotic trees and plants, or relax on the grass and enjoy a picnic at Ballard’s Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden. Hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1931, English spent more than 40 years transforming the space from a construction site into a gorgeous English estate-style garden (think Downton Abbey).

Bell-shaped fuchsia dangles delicately at Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden’s dedicated display. Photo: Flickr user Tatters

Today the gardens contain more than 500 species and 1,500 varieties of plants from around the globe, including fan palms, oaks, Mexican pines and an extensive fuchsia display. (Insider tip: While you’re in the area, be sure to swing by the waterfront to check out the Ballard Locks – which carry more boat traffic than any other lock in the states!)

5. Parsons Gardens

Bequeathed to the city of Seattle in 1956, this petite garden is tucked away in the charming Queen Anne neighborhood. Just down the road from one of the city’s best-known viewpoints, Kerry Park, the gardens provide a respite from the park’s throngs of spectators.

Tidy walking paths are generously shaded by old-growth trees in Queen Anne’s Parsons Gardens. Photo: Parsons Gardens

Often referred to as a “secret garden for non-tourists,” a visit to Parsons Gardens will make you feel like a true Emerald City insider! Dotted with pale blue hydrangea bushes and deep purple rhododendrons, Parsons is the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet moment on a jam-packed day of Seattle sightseeing.

6. Center for Urban Horticulture

Open to the public since 1984, the Center for Urban Horticulture provides 90 acres of publicly accessible wildlife habitat. As a part of the University of Washington Botanical Gardens, the grounds include community-focused features such as the Seattle Garden Club Fragrance Garden and the student-powered UW Farm.

A Great Blue Heron hunts for its dinner at the Center for Urban Horticulture’s Union Bay Natural Area. Photo: Steve Voght

Wander through each colorful corner of the Soest Herbaceous Display Garden, then head over to the Union Bay Natural Area for some of the best bird watching in the whole city. Round out your day with a stop at the Miller Library to peruse the most extensive collection of horticulture texts in the Pacific Northwest!

7. Bloedel Reserve

Hop across the water to nearby Bainbridge Island for a chance to experience unmatched serenity at Bloedel Reserve. Known for its groomed walking paths and soothing water features, the Reserve is a mixed tapestry of woodlands, meadows and landscaped gardens.

While away an afternoon under an enormous weeping willow tree at Bloedel Reserve. Photo: Andrew Taylor

Designed to foster unrestricted thinking inspired by nature, the grounds provide the perfect space to provoke innovative thinkers – from composers to botanists. They even offer offers a Creative Residency program! After a visit to the Reserve, you may even feel a stroke of inspiration yourself! (Insider tip: Don’t miss the property’s gift shop, where you’ll find handmade art, cards, crafts and jewelry from local artisans!)

8. Bellevue Botanical Gardens

Encompassing 53 acres of gardens, woodlands, natural wetlands and walking trails, the Bellevue Botanical Garden offers a full day’s worth of outdoor exploration and education. Walk through the Native Discovery Garden to learn all about PNW plant life and what we can do to preserve it. (Insider tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the bronze statue of an owl in flight made by sculptor David Maritz!)

Streamlined simplicity meets pops of color at Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Japanese Garden. Photo: Flickr user IIP Photo Archive

Visiting this summer? Witness an explosion of color at the Gardens’ annual Dahlia Display, featuring everything from the petite Button variety to hand-sized Dinner Plate Dahlias!

9. Thomas Street Gardens

Smack dab in the middle of Seattle’s busy Capitol Hill neighborhood, Thomas Street Gardens are a hidden sanctuary in the concrete jungle. Brimming with lush, overgrown greenery and cheerful wildflowers, the garden is an ideal spot to take a breather and rest your feet on a long day of downtown exploration.

Tiny, cheerful wildflowers dot the landscape at Thomas Street Gardens Photo: Pexels

On top of the exquisite plant life, the pocket park features structures that blend functional elements with artistic flair. The tool shed, conceptualized by architect Param Bedi, brings a sleek, modern twist on what is ordinarily a utilitarian structure.

The intricate, wrought iron front gate was drawn up by landscape architect and Master Gardener Lyle Grant (who also laid out the plans for the garden itself) and spells out the name of the space within its vine-inspired design. Form, function and flowers, all packed into just 3,200 square feet!

10. UW Medicinal Herb Garden

Tucked away in a wooded corner of campus, the University of Washington Medicinal Herb Garden connects the dots between herbs and health. Covering a two-acre swath of land, the garden features nearly 1,000 plants used in healing traditions across hundreds of different cultures.

Silvery-gray wormwood on display at the UW Medicinal Herb Garden Photo: UW Medicinal Herb Garden

The garden’s extensive herb collection is a result of groundskeeper Keith Possee’s tireless participation in international seed exchange programs. Working within a group of more than 300 botanical gardens from around the world, Possee has secured specimens like Madagascar periwinkle – which produces a compound used to treat cancer – and Artemisia annua aka “sweet Annie” – which is used as a treatment for malaria. (Insider tip: Keep your eye out for visiting Eastern cottontail rabbits – that is, before Possee shoos them off!)

Whether you’re looking to feel like a local popping by a secret neighborhood garden or opt for a full day of botanical garden bloom-spotting, Seattle’s got a green space to fit the bill!

Feature image: Hiếu Hoàng