The Spectacular Gardens of Point Defiance Park

A Diverse and Plentiful Garden Experience 

When you think of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, you probably picture elephants, sharks and polar bears -- and for good reason. Point Defiance boasts a world-class zoo and aquarium that are well worth a good long visit. The 29-acre zoological park is the number 2 tourist destination in Pierce County, Washington, second only to Mount Rainier, and attracts over 700,000 visitors a year. (We’ll save a more detailed look at the wonderful zoo and aquarium for another post.) 

This post will introduce you to Point Defiance Park's magnificent display of gardens. 

The Iris Garden at Point Defiance Park

Welcome to Eight Unique and Beautifully Designed Gardens...

Did you know that the 700-acre Point Defiance Park, which offers spectacular views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, is also the home of eight beautifully designed gardens that will be at the height of their blooming season throughout the next few months?

So, if you need a peaceful afternoon soaking in a little natural magnificence, I suggest you take a leisurely stroll through a few of the Point Defiance Gardens.

Here's What You Can See in the Point Defiance Gardens...

One of the beautiful varieties of Iris in the Iris Garden.
The Iris Garden -
 If you find the sweet scent of iris as delightful as I do, you will love sniffing your way through this lovely display of assorted and unique varieties. The Iris Garden contains 101 tall bearded iris, 80 Pacific Coast iris hybrids and 26 iris tectorum, all in assorted colors. 

During construction in 1992, cobblestones from old Tacoma streets were used for the garden walls. 

The garden site is comprised of five sections - one bed is dedicated to tall bearded iris, two beds to various median irises, one bed to beardless iris (Siberian and Pacific Coast iris), and there is also a Louisiana section. I had never seen so many varieties of iris in one place.

A Heavily Laden Wisteria adds to the Local Landscape

The Herb Garden - Become culinarily inspired in the Herb Garden. Established by the Herb Gardeners of Tacoma and maintained primarily by their members, the Herb Garden has two beds containing more than 150 perennial herb plants that love the Puget Sound region as much as we do.

The arbored path to the herbs and fuchsias.

The Fuchsia Garden -
 Between June and October you can enjoy the lavish fuchsia garden and see an explosion of blooms. Colorful, delicately-dangling flowers attract visitors, butterflies and hummingbirds alike. The Fuchsia Garden contains 125 different varieties of upright fuchsias.

This garden was constructed to test which varieties of fuchsias can be grown in the ground and will come back year after year.

The Rhododendron Garden - Designed in a 5-acre stand of old growth forest as a striking natural display, the rhododendron garden is spectacular in it's natural setting. 
This garden is just past the zoo at the beginning of 5 Mile Drive. 

Trails wind through the forest creating a natural exhibit of these huge and boisterous blooms. The garden contains more than 500 plants, including 198 cultivated varieties and 75 species of rhododendrons. 

Rose buds by the thousands in the Rose Garden.

This natural rhododendron garden was created in 1968 in cooperation with the Tacoma Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society.

The Dahlia Trial Garden -- You will have to visit in late summer to see these beauties in their full glory. The dahlia trial garden is one of the largest official trial gardens in the U.S. and Canada and is maintained in cooperation with the Washington Dahlia Society. The Dahlia Trial Garden is comprised of plants grown from tubers sent by dahlia growers from throughout America, Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia.

Iridescent Early blooms in the Rose Garden.

The Japanese Garden -- 
This inspiring site is a long time favorite of Point
Defiance Park. Built in 1914, the Pagoda, inspired
by Japanese architechture, is the focal point of this beautiful and peaceful garden.

The garden features an authentic Shinto shrine and Tori Gate presented by Tacoma’s Sister City in Kitakyushu Japan.Here youwill see azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese cherry trees and crabapples. 

Large and small pines flourish as an oriental footbridge, waterfall, Japanese lanterns and a small "tea house" also compliment the grounds.

It's May and the Roses are Just Starting to Bloom!
The garden provides a peaceful setting to experience a bit of solitude and is especially  enchanting in early spring.

The Spectacular Rose Garden -This spectacular garden is the focal point of Point Defiance Park and has more than an acre of rose beds, the oldest of which was established in 1895. The site includes a garden of delicate miniature roses, arbors of graceful climbing roses, a picturesque wishing well and a restful gazebo.

From June through September more than 1,500 rose bushes provide a full spectrum of colors including many variegated combinations. The garden is accredited by the American Rose Society as an All American Rose selection display garden.

A waterfall at the Northwest Native Gardens

The Northwest Native Plants Garden -

This garden displays and celebrates the native flora of the Pacific Northwest. There are winding paths that lace through the one-and-one-half-acre garden.

You will pass a lovely little waterfall, pond and a welcoming wooden gazebo. This comprehensive garden in itself includes a forest garden, dry garden, alpine garden, meadow garden, woodland garden, pond and waterfall garden.

So, whether you are a garden master or would merely love to take a day to meander through a truly transcendent natural environment, the Point Defiance Gardens offer an extensive opportunity to cultivate your love of all things beautiful.

                          Click here for more information on the gardens and how you can volunteer. 

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