nwnargs at bellevue botanical garden
In early 2014, the Northwestern Chapter of NARGS entered into an agreement with the City of Bellevue as a Bellevue Botanical Garden (BBG) partner organization. As a partner, the chapter has been actively involved in the renovation of the BBG rock garden.
Originally designed in 1995 by chapter member Michael Moshier and renovated in 2000 with oversight by Michael and Kate Day, lately the BBG rock garden is showing its age. Aggressive plants smothered out more choice selections and dwarf conifers outgrew their spaces. In 2010, BBG volunteers began a complete inventory of what remained, mapping locations and suggesting removal of some trees and plants.
NW chapter volunteers joined the BBG rock garden committee, led by garden manager Nancy Kartes, to design and plan a rock garden revision. An overall vision for the rock garden was articulated by chapter member Jim Fox and the watering system for the rock garden was revised accordingly. NW chapter volunteers inventoried existing plants and planted out donated plants. From chapter member suggestions, a wish list for additional plants was drawn up, with an emphasis on plants that are available to and growable by the general gardening public, in accordance with the BBG's mission.
Three troughs have been planted at the base of the alpine garden "bowl". The troughs were donated to the garden by Blake Bender. Blake's parents, who have passed away, were both avid gardeners. At their home in Lake Forest Park they had a patio full of troughs, some smaller than these three and some quite a bit larger. Blake's mother, Pat, was very active in both the local chapter of NARGS and the national organization. She chaired the NARGS seed exchange several times and served as president of the national organization.
The use of troughs is one way to grow small alpine plants that would be lost in an open garden. Also, trough soils can be formulated to meet specific growing requirements. Examples include growing medium with fast drainage for plants intolerant of our wet, northwest climate and acidic or alkaline soils.
Each trough has a unique shape. The rectangular trough is planted with a variety of small plants that require good drainage and are too small for the open garden. The rectangular trough with rounded edges mostly contains lewisias, plants that need excellent drainage. The round trough has local travertine (from an area near Darrington) with a selection of plants native to local mountains.
Near-term plans include the purchase and installation of plants from the chapter wish list. Longer-term plans aim for a rock garden that will be easier to maintain yet provide the public with a sample of the glories of growing rock garden plants.
Rock Garden at Bellevue Botanical Garden.