The Bellevue Botanical Garden: Celebrating the First 15 Years

To celebrate the garden’s first fifteen years, the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society asked Marty Wingate and book designer Virginia Hand to sift through decades of archival material dating back to the 1940s, conduct first-person interviews, and edit hundreds of images contributed by volunteer and professional photographers. The result is a timely and timeless document that captures the roots of BBG—from the gift of land by benefactors Cal and Harriet Shorts to the partnership between the BBG Society and the City of Bellevue’s Parks Department.

Revealing her talents as a garden tour guide and garden writer, Wingate escorts her readers through BBG’s multilayered narrative, stopping at important venues to recount a small historical detail, or focusing closely on noteworthy plant specimens. She enthusiastically retells the story of this “living jewel” and its influence on regional, national, and international audiences (300,000 visitors each year).

The book’s most inspiring section covers The Gardens: the Entrance Garden, Northwest Perennial Alliance Borders, Yao Japanese Garden, Shorts Ground Cover Garden, Water-wise Garden, Alpine Rock Garden, Fuchsia Garden, Native Discovery Garden, and Lost Meadow/Loop Trail. Illustrated with exquisite photographs of plant combinations and garden portraits, the history of these specialty gardens is also shared by interviews with key volunteers who helped design, install, and nurture their creation.

Ultimately, that’s the heart and soul of this book: how members of the gardening community—from avid lay gardeners to professional landscape designers and horticultural educators—turned the dream of a botanical garden into a beautiful reality for the public.

Debra Prinzing, garden writer
Thousand Oaks, California