The esteemed Olmsted Brothers Landscape firm designed the eight-acre Dunn Gardens in 1915. It is the only residential garden designed by the Olmsted firm that is open to the public in Washington state.
The Olmsted Brothers’ father Frederick Law Olmsted was famous for designing New York City’s Central Park, the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C., Biltmore Estates in North Carolina, the World’s Exposition in Chicago, Belle Isle in Detroit, and many many other projects and municipal gardens of significance around the United States.
The E.B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust was formed in 1993 with the intent to provide a garden open for the public to enjoy, but it’s not well known, and it’s tucked inside an unassuming neighborhood with a discreet entrance marked by white gates and a very small sign. There is space to park for about 4 cars, and they request a donation of $10 to tour the gardens. If you have to park on the street and walk in, just be respectful of the neighbors as it’s inside a small cul de sac.
They have many unique species plants here, and several hidden gardens within the greater property, including a small Japanese garden designed by the landscape architect Fujitaro Kubota of Kubota Gardens in Japan.
This garden is a bit hard to find, but oh so worth it. You can bring a light picnic lunch and spread out to enjoy the beauty and sweeping views of the Olympics and Puget Sound from the grand open lawn, just a few minutes walk once inside the garden. There are many side trails that offer lovely glimpses and quiet reflection, but watch out for poison oak.
You can also buy some species plants at the front gate if you are interested or if see something unique you’d like to take home. The people working there are very helpful, but they will also leave you alone to explore and enjoy at your leisure.
Know Before You Go
Park on the street in front of homes or enter the white gates and follow the small parking signs. There is room to park about five cars inside the gardens. Check the website for hours as advanced reservations may be needed some days. Although the gardens are free, they request a $10 voluntary donation.
Hours are limited, so please visit their website before arriving. There are a couple of days you can visit unannounced and without reservation. All information can be found on their website.