Marianne Binetti

A visit to the Highline Botanical Garden is worth your time

The second week of August is vacation time, and because we are lucky enough to live in Western Washington, gardeners and and those who don’t can travel to SeaTac and travel the world — for free!

Heading toward the airport does not mean you need to brave the long security lines or pay the big bucks to board a plane. SeaTac is a town near the airport that is also the location of Highline Botanical Garden, one of the best kept secrets for world travelers that prefer to stay close to home.

Highline Botanical Garden is a collection of different gardens mostly run and maintained with the help of volunteers and plant society members and created to help showcase the plants that do well in our climate.

There are two cool reasons why home gardeners need to visit Highline Botanical Garden in August.

First, they host a plant sale with amazing value on plants you will not find at local nurseries but do well in our climate.

Second, they host an ice cream social as part of the plant sale Sunday, Aug. 18. (Full disclosure here: I am speaking at noon on the day of the event. )

You can visit the website for more details on this free ice cream social and plant sale at

France – The Rose Garden

Visiting Monet’s garden in the small town of Giverny near Paris was one of the highlights of my own garden travel experiences. It was the flower-covered arches over the walkways that inspired me to grow roses and clematis over metal archways. I could have saved myself the trip just by visiting the rose garden, one of many theme gardens that make up the Highline Botanical Garden.

Local garden designer Greg Butler working with the nonprofit rose society has not only designed a Monet-inspired way to showcase archways of blooming roses, but, more importantly, this garden features the top 20 hybrid tea roses that do well in our climate. As a healthy bonus you get to see roses raised and maintained using only organic methods.

Seike Japanese Garden

The Seike Japanese garden was inspired by a movie-worthy story of local history. (You can even rent a movie about the formation of this garden from the local library.) This garden includes the triumphs and tragedy of the Seike family that owned a nursery and show garden in Des Moines decades ago.

The garden was saved from demolition and moved to its present location at the Highline garden thanks to hundreds of volunteers and some civic partnerships. Today, you can read the family story at the garden entrance and gain practical take-home knowledge about incorporating and pruning Japanese maples, pine trees and using traditional Japanese stone and art in your own landscape.

Chile, New Zealand and China

A world of easy-to-grow perennial plants that thrive in our cool summer climate is waiting to inspire any gardener who wants more summer color without investing in flats of annuals that die in the winter.

Hardy fuchsias are featured in a display garden that showcases upright shrub fuchsias, tiny dwarf fuchsias and more traditional looking trailing fuchsias that will all survive the winter in Western Washington when given the right care and location.

Most of these fuchsia varieties originate from New Zealand and Chile in South America. For gardens with too much sunshine to make hardy fuchsias happy, there is the spectacular daylily garden with lily-like blooms that resist drought, pests and Northwest weather. Many of the easy-to-grow daylilies are from the mountains of China, but you don’t need to scale a great wall of travel to experience their exotic beauty.

There are more than 10 acres of different gardens at the Highline Botanical Garden, including the Sensory Garden that will delight blind people, plus activities for kids and gardens designed for seniors. Did I mention the free ice cream and free admission?

Head to SeaTac for your worldwide vacation — just don’t hop on a plane.

Reach Marianne Binetti through her website at or write to her at P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw WA 98022.

Meet Marianne

Sunday, Aug. 18, noon, Highline Botanical Garden Ice Cream Social and Plant Sale. Marianne Binetti will talk about great garden ideas from around the world. The festival lasts from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 13735 24th Ave S. SeaTac. Visit for more info or call 206-391-4003.

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