Seattle’s Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Gardens

When we visited with the Seattle Seyers, Ralph and Debbie said we had to go see the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. It had all kinds of things: fish ladders, unique boat locks and a beautiful garden. The best part was that it was free, except parking.

I have to admit that I was a little concerned about the parking when I saw a sign that said this was a high crime area or something equivalent. The sign didn’t worry me as much as the broken window glass littering the parking lot. I took all my camera equipment with me and stuck the GPS under the seat (like they wouldn’t look there).

Parade ground turned into English-style garden

We were early for the guided tour, so we elected to wander through the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden. The locks were built and maintained by the Corp of Engineers, which has a military mindset. It had parade grounds in mind when it came time to transform a gravel construction area into something more useful.

They hired Carl English in 1931 for the project. The Corps must have been distracted because English gradually transformed a manicured lawn into a world famous English estate style garden.

Ship captains delivered seeds

Working with little money, English established connections with other botanists and horticulturists all over the world to exchange specimens of trees and flowers. Ship captains going through the locks would drop off plants for the garden.

573 species of plants

English heard about the discovery of a dawn redwood in China, something that was previously only seen as a fossil. He arranged to receive some of the first seeds ever shipped to the United States. Eight of these grow in the park today.

Botanical Garden photo gallery

Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

8 Replies to “Seattle’s Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Gardens”

    1. I was afraid someone was going to ask me what the plants were. My knowledge of plants is limited to being able to divide them into two groups: dead and alive. I found that hard to do in the winter, so I moved to Florida to avoid that confusion.

      I picked up the redwood factoid from a park brochure after the fact and didn’t know about them when I was in the gardens. If I had to find a fault with the place it was a lack of signage. Some plants were identified, but most were not.

  1. Ken, did you get any pictures of the fish going up the fish ladder? when we visited there a few years ago We were amazed at the sight of the fish going up this water ladder to spawm. I have to dig up my pictures somewhere but it was impressive

    1. I didn’t have them jumping up the ladder from the outside, but I do have some of them from the underwater viewing area. I may run them Monday morning.

      Those suckers are BIG! I think of salmon coming in cans, not swimming around.

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