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Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden

Articles: Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden

A huge star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) takes an uncommon ride down the highway to the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden. Photographs by Greg Butler

If a big bulldozer headed for your garden, what would you do? Would you grab your favorite plant and run? When faced with the loss of her garden, Elda Behm saved more than just a few plants; she saved her entire garden—at least most of it— and it has become the anchor for the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden.

Since 1965, Behm had gardened on a one-acre lot in the small town of Burien, just south of Seattle—too close, as it turned out, to SeaTac, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Known for their mild climate and gorgeous views of mountains and water, many Burien neighborhoods lost their image of sleepy, small-town life as the ever-growing airport traffic conflicted with increasing numbers of people in the region. In 1997, the Port of Seattle condemned land in the area in order to expand the airport with a third runway. Behm wondered what the fate of her garden—full of uncommon plants—would be.

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