Sunday, July 1, 2012

Around the Miller Garden, Part 1

View looking west toward Puget Sound
The Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in North Seattle opened to the public in the mid-90's after the world-renowned horticulturist had passed away and willed her estate to become a botanical garden.  The gated community surrounding it was not too happy about the potential increase in vehicle traffic, so the garden is forced to limit the number of visitors per year to 500.  So it is a garden that is impossible to get into, filled with many plants that are impossible to find.

Here is an example of a plant you can't get, a ground-hugging fern in the Blechnum genus: 

Blechnum (species unknown)
Another hard-to-find plant, the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis), was known only through fossil records until 1994 when a small population of about 100 trees were found growing in the Blue Mountains in Australia.  This incredible discovery led to a movement around Australia to cultivate the pine, even using it as a living Christmas tree, in order to help maintain its survival as a species.  It is still extremely difficult to find in the US (otherwise I would be growing one).

A small Wollemia nobilis
A larger Wollemia nobilis
Eventually, these plants will trickle down to the rest of us.  As an example, Japanese forest grass was once so rare that Mrs. Miller's garden was one of the only places in the Western hemisphere you could find it.  Now it is very common.

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' (Japanese Forest Grass)
Plants from Japan are well-represented in the Miller Garden, with over 50 varieties of Japanese Maples alone.  Here are some outstanding specimens:

Acer palmatum 'Scolopendrifolium'
Acer palmatum 'Arakawa' (Rough bark maple)
Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira' (Lion's Head Maple)
Acer palmatum 'Villa Taranto'
Continue on to Part 2.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing garden with us! Just when I thought my plant lust was at bay, you go and post pictures of wollemia nobilis. Yikes, it's stunning! Can't wait for part 2.

  2. Yay for this! I've wanted to visit the Miller Garden for years, this is definitely the next best thing...thank you!

    I saw my first Wollemia Nobilis at the UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver, I stood and stared at it for a very long time.