There is no doubt in my mind that Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens is a hidden gem of the Pacific Northwest. Just minutes off I-5 at exit 215 - north of Everett, but not quite to Mount Vernon’s beautiful tulips - you’ll find the beautiful gardens boasting a plethora of native trees, shrubs, flowers, and more. And perhaps best of all, visiting the Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens is completely FREE! Such a rare treat these days.
Part of the Pilchuck Learning Center, Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens doesn’t feature just any plants. Here, the 460 species showcased are 100% native to the Northwest (a rare occurrence). In fact, they say they are the only all-inclusive native plant teaching gardens north of San Francisco Bay. Indian plum, lupine, conifers, leather polypody, Oregon oak tree, oxalis, and hundreds more fill the landscape of the gardens and thanks to the markers and educational signage, guests have the opportunity to learn while they stroll the grounds. It’s like an old school field trip and jaunt to the wooded countryside all in one adventure.
With 3/4 of a mile of ongoing paths and boardwalks, all of which are wheelchair accessible, everyone has the opportunity to explore and learn at Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens. The gorgeous backdrop offers a perfect place for photos and the sights and sounds will spark your curiosity for all things native to the Northwest. You just might see salamanders, turtles, and migratory birds and trout, depending on the time of year and it’s practically a given that you’ll hear croaking frogs thanks to the waterways that are part of the gardens. Living here, I think we all have an appreciation for the naturescapes we see so often, but truly pausing to see the intricacies while honoring how each plant participates in the delicate ecosystem of the Northwest is a gift worth exploring.
Some call the Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens the “ABC Park” due to the large red letter signs you can see from the freeway. Kids especially love identifying the letters and all will enjoy reading the nature information and local history that each covered kiosk offers. They are such a wealth of information! Be sure to notice that on top of the kiosks are green roofs curated with plants to attract butterflies - some of the very best pollinators! In addition to the flora and fauna, Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens features art from Pilchuck Glass School artists so as you stroll watch for those displayed on pedestals throughout the waterways.
Garden advocates and the Master Gardeners who tend to Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens ask guests to be mindful of their time at the gardens by not picking anything, turning rocks, or upsetting the natural habitat. Many plants are being propagated and the ecosystem is so easily disrupted, be careful! Children should be supervised at all times. And, most of all, they ask that you share about this exclusively native botanical garden to help heighten awareness and support. You can hashtag your photos #mybbgbeauty and #bonhoefferbotanicalgardens to more easily spread the word.
Each year, the gardens close at the first frost, but on March 15th they reopen for spring. So, add a visit to the Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens to your spring bucket list - you’ll love the quiet, educational stroll as the garden’s daffodil hill springs to life!