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The Dunn Gardens

Articles: The Dunn Gardens

One of two man-made ponds on the Dunn Garden property, shown here in spring. Photo: Mike Siegel

In 1914, Arthur and Jeanette Dunn bought a 10-acre parcel in north Seattle for use as a summer retreat. In 1915, the Olmsted Brothers firm was hired to design the garden, and by 1916 it was declared “finished.” I think we all know a garden is never truly done. When Arthur and Jeanette’s children inherited the property they evenly divided it among themselves and the once-seasonal getaway became three year-round residences. Edward Bernard Dunn, their second son, converted the garage/staff building into a home and began gardening.

Ed adopted a relaxed Robinsonian approach to his mostly wooded site furnished with Douglas-fir. His love of rhododendrons was paramount and, over time, he filled his garden with them. When the easy-to-plant areas were filled to overflowing, Ed managed to shoehorn even more in. This was not always the best thing for the plants, but I think most of us can relate to plant lust. Toward the end of his life, Ed worked on preserving the future of his 2.5-acre garden as well as the two adjoining...

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