Arboretum Garden Stewards
Sessions take place in the morning. See the table below for event times, and meet at the listed location. These dates are subject to change, and are not considered confirmed until the week before each session.
It is necessary to sign up in advance to attend. Registered Stewards receive a sign-up evite prior to each session. If you’ve never attended a Stewards session, you need to register online first to get on our evite list.
Please e-mail Jillian Weed with any questions.
|May 2, 8:30 to 11 a.m.|
Azalea Way (with Roy Farrow)
|May 4, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Pacific Connections meadow (with Prestron Pew)|
|May 9, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Azalea Way (with Roy Farrow)||May 11, 8:30 to 11 a.m. New Zealand Forest (with Darrin Hedberg)|
|May 16, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Azalea Way (with Roy Farrow)||May 18, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Pacific Connections meadow (with Prestron Pew)|
|May 23, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Azalea Way (with Roy Farrow)||May 25, 8:30 to 11 a.m. New Zealand Forest (with Darrin Hedberg)|
|May 30, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Azalea Way (with Roy Farrow)|
|June 1, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Pacific Connections meadow (with Prestron Pew)|
Help Care for the Arboretum!
Would you like to help us keep Washington Park Arboretum looking beautiful? Come join us for a Garden Stewards gardening party. Garden Stewards assist the staff gardeners in the monumental task of maintaining the Arboretum. Weekday gardening parties take place from mid-March through October, weather permitting. Sessions take place in the morning (times vary, so see the schedule above for details), and you are welcome to join us and help for as long as you can—an hour, two hours, or the entire three-hour session.
What we do: Most of our time, we spend weeding in the beds along Azalea Way and in the Pacific Connections Garden, as well as in the Winter and Woodland gardens. We work with very knowledgeable gardeners who appreciate our assistance in helping to keep the Arboretum looking and feeling great.
There are also opportunities for mulching and other gardening activities, if that is where your interests lie. Please email Jillian Weed or call her at 206-963-0008 for more information.
Who should join: Everyone!
- No gardening experience? Not a problem. Staff gardeners from UW Botanic Gardens and Seattle Parks and Recreation guide our activities, and you will receive sufficient instruction to feel knowledgeable and successful on your very first session.
- An experienced gardener? Your expertise will be enhanced by working with the Arboretum’s very knowledgeable horticulture staff. Current Stewards really value the time they have to interact with the gardeners and learn about the plants in the Arboretum.
- No garden of your own, but love working with plants? Perfect—our garden becomes your garden. Several stewards (some retirees who have given up their garden, some younger people who don’t have their own gardens yet) come to experience the joy of gardening through our Garden Steward sessions.
- Love the Arboretum and want to give something back? There are many ways to give back to the Arboretum, and many of our volunteers do give in multiple ways. If you love gardening, pitching in with the Stewards is a great way to give back—and one that you can see the results of each time you walk past an area that you’ve helped maintain! It is a lovely way to create a deeper connection to the Arboretum and learn interesting facts about the historic displays you’ll be helping to care for.
- A student taking environmental, landscape, plant ID or other horticulture classes? Working with the Garden Stewards is a great way to develop hands-on field skills in your chosen area of study. Arboretum staff gardeners have a wealth of knowledge to share (many of them may have even taken the very same classes you are taking), and volunteering with the Garden Stewards program will give you valuable work-related experience as you build your CV and start your career.
Benefits of volunteering: New Stewards receive training from staff gardeners in the use of tools and the identification of both weed plants and plants in the Arboretum collections. Stewards also benefit from other enrichment activities—including fascinating lectures about the history and collections in the Arboretum, as well as instructional talks from the many plant experts in the Arboretum’s extended family. Each year, we also participate in the Arboretum’s Volunteer Appreciation Party, a relaxing event celebrating the Stewards and other Arboretum volunteers for all of their hard work.
Earning your vest: After you participate in 24 hours of stewarding—just eight three-hour sessions—you will receive a very useful Garden Stewards vest, to help you hold your personal items during your gardening sessions.
Signing up: To learn more about the Stewards initiative or to sign up to become a Steward, please email email Jillian Weed or call her at 206-963-0008. Before attending your first session, please fill out an application for by doing one of the following:
- Fill out our online application form.
- Or download a volunteer application form, fill it out, and either fax it to Jillian at 206-325-8893 or mail it to her c/o the Arboretum Foundation, 2300 Arboretum Drive East, Seattle, WA 98112.
Short History of the Stewards
In fall 2011, in response to budget crises affecting the University of Washington and Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Arboretum Foundation and UW Botanic Gardens created a special volunteer program dedicated to the care and maintenance of the Pacific Connections Garden at the south end of the Arboretum. Our goal was to recruit and train a dedicated cadre of volunteers—the Pacific Connections Garden Stewards—who would, under the supervision of the Arboretum and UWBG horticultural staff, assist the small paid crew in caring for this new garden.
The program was a great success, and it inspired the Foundation and Seattle Parks and Recreation to create the Azalea Way Garden Stewards in summer 2012. This program has also been very successful in providing assistance to City staff in maintaining Azalea Way, an historic, Olmsted-designed display. In 2014, both programs were merged into one and renamed, simply, the Garden Stewards program. Seventy-five volunteers participated in the program in 2015–16.