The Bellevue Botanical Gardens

On Labor Day I visited the Bellevue Botanical Gardens in Bellevue, WA. For hours I walked around looking at plants, taking pictures, and soaking in the beautiful day and beautiful gardens

In my Kubota Gardens post I mentioned seeing impressive Hydrangea flowers, the Bellevue Botanical Gardens had even more.

A pretty purple lace cap hydrangea inflorescence.

A large perennial border garden provided much entertainment for me. It was great to see so many plants I worked with years ago. I was surprised that almost all the names came back to me, though some took a bit of thinking. Highlights in the perennial gardens include the huge white and pink Gaura plants, the metallic looking Echinops, the massive groups of Agastache, the different species and cultivars or Salvia, the blue Caryopteris specimens that looked so perfect they seemed artificial, the clusters of Verbena bonariensis that reminded me why I once loved that plant, and I’ll stop there because the list could get too long.

I’m not sure if I like playing poker or poker plants more. Kniphofia species are very cool. One look at the flowers and the common name–red hot poker or poker plant–is fully explained.

A poker plant.

Beside the border gardens there was an area containing a collection of maple trees, many of them I had never seen before. There is something very exciting about seeing a plant in real life that you have only read about. Seeing an Acer circinatum made my day.

Acer circinatum foliage.

I saw a maple that reminded me of Acer pennsylvanicum, but I suspected it wasn’t. Sure enough, it was an Asian species similar to the plant I know from Pennsylvania. Both trees have a common name of snake bark maple.

Acer capillipes bark.

I saw a small shrub that totally stumped me. Thankfully it had a name tag. Lindera obtusiloba, Japanese spicebush. As I stood there looking at this plant I addressed it, “Frankly, I had no idea you existed. I know Lindera benzoin well, which is called spicebush in the eastern US, I did not realize there was a Japanese version.

Lindera obtusiloba foliage.

In the woodlands there were plantings of ferns and herbaceous plants. Solomon’s seal and false Solomon’s seal are two similar looking plants. In the east the true Solomon’s seal is common, while in the west the false one is more common. I found an impressive planting of Maianthemum racemosum, false Solomon’s seal.

False solomon's seal fruit.

Beside that plant I found one of my favorites, Tricyrtis.This one was a hybrid called ‘Tojen’ that I had heard of, but not seen as a mature planting before. Toad lilies are so cool. The detail on the flower parts is exquisite.

A toad lily in full bloom.

The ferns were very impressive. All the moisture in the North Pacific makes for happy ferns.

A collection of ferns.

Behind the ferns a trail beckoned. The Lost Meadow Trail, to be exact. Of course I followed it. It was about a third of a mile long, winding through a forest of hardwoods and conifers. The canopy trees were spectacular. I was filled with admiration. My journey on the trail turned into a prayer walk, for I cannot imagine any other response.

On the Lost Meadow Trail.

I really enjoyed the mix of carefully managed gardens and natural landscapes at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens. It was definitely worth visiting. I appreciated that many plants were labeled.

By mid-afternoon I departed for Seattle to see the Museum of Flight. From plants to planes.

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