The entrance to the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Native Discovery Garden. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

The entrance to the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Native Discovery Garden. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Botanical Garden has new plants for summer

Improvements to accessibility and exhibits were made in the spring.

With the help of a $25,000 grant from the King Conservation District, the Bellevue Botanical Garden has made some improvements to promote the appreciation of native plants.

This spring the Botanical Garden completed upgrades to the Native Discovery Garden, a section of the property devoted to plants native to the Northwest. The upgrades were made to improve access to the park for visitors with limited mobility, to diversify the collection, and to improve circulation of visitors throughout the park itself.

Nancy Kartes, garden manager, said the changes address concerns in getting people to the Native Discovery Garden.

“One of the things we would notice was the garden was under visited, the circulation was awkward, so in general we are trying to improve accessibility throughout the garden,” She said. “The pathway was bark so people with limited mobility couldn’t go in. We improved the circulation and swapped out the surface to be more accessible, compacted crushed rock.”

The site itself, including the pathways, were reworked, and the exit was turned into a new entrance to better lead visitors into the native plant area.

Increasing the diversity of plants also serves multiple purposes, Kartes said. The Native Discovery Garden shows off how native plants can be used in personal gardens, and the intent is to inspire visitors to use them in their own gardens.

“We now have 183 different kinds of native pants — that was a 250-percent increase in just the diversity in the kinds of plants we have,” she said.

One of the challenges for people is that certain types of native plants can be difficult to find for normal consumers. Kartes hopes the garden will inspire more people to ask about the uncommon plants to drive demand, improving accessibility for consumers.

The concept and design was worked on in partnership with the Washington Native Plant Society and the East Lake Washington District of Garden Clubs. Their role will now shift into some stewardship responsibilities, Kartes said.

The revamped garden also features new benches privately donated as part of the Tribute Bench Donation program.

The project was in planning throughout 2018 and the King Conservation District grant was received in the fall. Work began in January, Kartes said, and the grand opening was held on May 12, Mother’s Day.

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