Pacific Connections: An Overview
The Pacific Connections Garden is a key component of the Master Plan and marks the first major new exhibit in the Arboretum in nearly 50years. The 14-acre garden will be located at the south end of the Arboretum and feature five eco-geographic immersion forests surrounding a central grassy meadow and a series of entry gardens. The garden eventually will tie together five regions within the Pacific Rim that have climates similar to ours in Seattle:
- Cascadia (the Siskiyous, Oregon)
- Chile (Valdivia region)
- China (Mount Emei, Sichuan)
- Australia (New South Wales mountain region)
- New Zealand (South Island mountain region)
An intricate network of walking trails will allow visitors to enjoy the forest habitats and marvel at the diversity of plants that can thrive in the Pacific Northwest. Trail signage and an interpretive shelter will profile the Pacific Rim regions represented in the new gardens, highlight their horticultural connections, and illustrate the vital importance of plants in different societies and ecosystems.
A Conservation Garden: A key feature of the Pacific Connections Garden is that all of the plant material in the new forests will be propagated from seed collected in the wild. The UW Botanic Gardens is conducting expeditions to collect seed for the new forests. Using wild-collected seed of known provenance in the new garden will allow Arboretum staff to practice ex-situ (or off-site) conservation of plant species that are threatened—or may become so—in their homelands.
A Multiphase Project & Campaign
It will take about a decade to complete the design and construction of all the forests in the Pacific Connections Garden—and it will take many more years after that for the garden to grow and mature into a finished display. The idea for the garden was laid out in 2001 in the Arboretum Master Plan. In 2003, the Arboretum Foundation launched the Pacific Connections Campaign, an ambitious fundraising effort to raise more than $15 million in public and private funds to build the new garden and establish an endowment for maintenance. In concert with garden construction, the campaign is being coordinated in different phases.
Pacific Connections Phase 1: Following a $2.2 million donation from the Foundation to the City, the first phase of the garden was completed and opened to the public in fall 2008. It included the central welcoming meadow; interpretive shelter, five entry gardens, and the grading, pathways, and retaining walls for the future Cascadia Forest. [Read more]
Pacific Connections Phase 2: In 2009, the Foundation raised $425,000 to help create the Gateway to Chile, the first garden is Phase II of Pacific Connections. The Gateway garden opened in fall 2010. In summer 2012, we launched a new major campaign to fund the construction of the New Zealand and Cascadia Forests, as well as create an endowment for maintenance. Construction of the New Zealand Forest was completed in late summer, 2013. [Read more]
Pacific Connections Future Phases: Campaigns to fund the construction of the remaining forests (Chile, China, Australia) will be launched in the near future.
How You Can Help
- UW Botanic Gardens Web Page for Pacific Connections
- Seattle Parks and Recreation Web Page for Pacific Connections.
- “Sprucing Up a Place For Plants,” Seattle Times, October 2007.
- “Big Changes Coming to the Arboretum’s South End,” Seattle P-I, May 2007.