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The Dunn Gardens: Olmstedian Gardenesque and Robinsonian Woodland Gardening

Articles: The Dunn Gardens: Olmstedian Gardenesque and Robinsonian Woodland Gardening

View through the glen flanked by EB Dunn’s woodland garden, 1996. Photographs courtesy of the Dunn Garden Archives

The Dunn Gardens are an attractive, spacious and peaceful oasis in the midst of typical low-density suburban development in north Seattle. They are an unusual surviving example of the turn-of-the century custom of creating “summer places” in the rural fringe of the city. Designed by The Olmsted Brothers, landscape architects of Brookline, Massachusetts, for Arthur Dunn in 1915, they now comprise three adjacent, but legally separate properties. Since the property boundaries are invisible, visitors can still experience the tranquil landscape qualities originally envisaged. The sensitive subdivision of the property, in 1945, by Dunn’s four youngest children also serves as an instructive example of how to maintain over time the design integrity of an important historic landscape.

The Dunn Gardens represent a significant example of the Olmsted firm’s approach to design in the Pacific Northwest. Within its wooded context, Edward Dunn, the second son and a distinguished horticulturist, created an im...

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