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2021 marks the 25 year anniversary of Streissguth Gardens as a public garden.

It all started in 1972 when Dan and Ann purchased two undeveloped lots across the Blaine Street stairs from their home and began gardening on them. In 1996, they donated these two lots to Seattle Parks and Recreation in conjunction with Parks purchasing three lots south of the garden to save them from development. This purchase was funded by a 1989 King County Open Space bond issue.

As part of the donation Dan, Ann, and Ben asked for permission to continue caring for the gardens. Ben and Jade are now caring for the gardens. In 2021 the Streissguth Gardens Conservancy was started in the hope that in the distant future it could fully fund the gardens.

Welcome to the Gardens!

Close-up in Winter Dell

Close-up in Winter Dell
Garden Map

Suggested quick tour

Path line type dotted path line

  1. Phlox bed
  2. Scented rhododendrons
  3. PJM rhododendrons
  4. Shrub roses
  5. Kalmias
  6. Exbury Azaleas
  7. Ephemerals
  8. Pacific Cost iris
  9. The Bowl (forest restoration)
  10. Unrestored greenbelt (owned by other)
  11. Jake's Hillside (forest restoration)
  12. Gabions
  13. Stewartia grove
  14. More azaleas
  15. Leaf Pile Garden
  16. Lower Dell
  17. Winter Dell
  18. Berry trellises
  19. Heathers
  20. Roses and perennials
Panarama of the Garden

Some notes on naming:

  • Keith's Path is named for an early garden helper, who built this part in the early 1980's.
  • The Rust Garden is named in commemoration of the multiple loads of rusty debris that were removed from this section of the garden. We are still finding random bits of metal in this area.
  • Jake’s Hillside was started by our first serious volunteer who hand dug out a lot of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), an invasive species which was invading from up above. After clearing this area he planted and tended it for several years as it took off. Jake’s work in this area helped spur the rest of the restoration and enabled us to form a tight bond with the Forest Stewards program.
  • Cynthia’s Path was originally constructed by neighbors Phil and Cynthia to enable access up to the garden from the turn around. Cynthia now tends the parking strip on Broadway in this end of the garden.
  • The Slide Path had been a particularly troublesome section of the garden. This area is covering an old streambed and has been occasionally unstable. Every few years there would be a small slide here until Ben built a series of gabion walls in 2012.
  • The Leaf Pile Garden is a former compost pile where we dumped hundreds of loads of fall leaves for a few years. It’s likely the richest soil in the garden now.
  • The Raccoon Pool was originally a clay lined pool. Many mornings we would come into the garden and find scraping marks and paw prints from the local raccoon population that would use this pond for washing, eating, and drinking.

Development of the gardens

After purchasing the lots, Dan and Ann worked with the neighbors above to remove selected trees to improve views while saving the best trees. Access into the woods soon followed and shrubs were planted in the ivy. The gardens design grew organically and have never had any formal planning. Areas were developed based on exposure and light, and collections of plants were formed.

Ann and Dan continued gardening heartily until 2017 when they both retired. In 2018 Jade and Ben met in the garden, and fell in love. They are both devoted to the ongoing care and maintenance of the gardens.

Keep the gardens growing

The future of Streissguth Gardens depends on the generosity of our neighbors and visitors. Donations accepted at tiny.cc/efxt9x or scan the QR code.

Donation QR code

View along Woodland path in winter of 1994

View of the Lower Dell and Slide Path in 1994

Notes about the gardens

When Dan and Ann purchased the two lots in 1972 they had been neglected for many years and were full of invasive plants and garbage. Over the years the garden has grown without a master plan. The first trail was the Woodland Path, connecting the east end of the long landing on Blaine with the southwest corner of the garages.

As paths were installed, access into the garden became easier, facilitating planting, maintenance, and clearing. The ivy has been a mixed blessing over the years, providing ground cover, and year round green, but also much new growth that needs to be removed every year. Eventually we hope to be ivy free.

Garden facts:
  • 1 acre
  • 50 feet of vertical change
  • Over 1/3 of a mile of trails
  • Over 1,200 plants listed in the database
  • Flowers in bloom year round, with changes every couple of weeks
  • About 30 hours a week is devoted to maintaining the garden

View along Blaine stairs, August 2019

View along Blaine stairs, August 2019
Map of greenbelt

Greenbelt Restoration

Seattle Parks Department is ¾ through an ambitious 20 year plan to restore urban forests. Volunteers now do much of the restoration through the Green Seattle Partnership. We’re pleased that most of the southern two lots of the gardens are now established as native plantings. Ben oversees restoration in the gardens and has been loosely working with the folks at the southern end of the greenbelt who are also doing restoration. The middle section of the greenbelt is still privately owned, but maybe one day easements will allow public access and restoration.

Seasonal Highlights

  • Iris
  • Rhododendron
  • Species tulip
  • Shooting star
  • Trillium
  • Eucryphia
  • Kousa dogwood
  • Phlox
  • Rose
  • Stewartia
  • Aster
  • Beautyberry
  • European spindle berry
  • Dawn viburnum
  • Autumn joy sedum
  • Stachyurus
  • Crocus tommasinianus
  • Wintersweet
  • Witchhazel
  • Winter aconite

Plant Collections

  • Rhododendron (species and cultivars)
  • Hybrid tea roses
  • Stewartias
  • Iris
  • Winter bloom bulbs
  • Small trees with fall color
Trillium grandiflorum

Trillium ovatum (western trillium)


Crocus tomasinianus (Tomasinianus crocus) in phlox bed


  • 2021 Ben and Jade marry

  • 2021 25 year anniversary, and opening of Streissguth Gardens Conservancy

  • 2020 Dan passes at age 96.6

  • 2018 Dan and Ann celebrate 50 years of marriage

  • 2018 Ben and Jade fall in love in the garden, and she becomes an integral part of it

  • 2016 20 year anniversary

  • 2009 UW Press publishes In Love With A Hillside Garden

  • 2007 Streissguth Garden Fund established through Seattle Park Foundation

  • 2006 Received Seattle Garden Club Certificate of Merit

  • 1996 Gift of gardens to city and purchase of adjacent property

  • 1989 Open Space bond issue passed

  • 1976 First threat of development on adjacent land

  • 1972 Lots purchased and public gardens started

  • 1970 Ben is born

  • 1968 Dan and Ann marry

  • 1965 Ann moved next door

  • 1963 Ann moves into the neighborhood

  • 1962 Dan builds house

  • 1952 Dan moves in to the neighborhood

Sunset view of Seattle

Hours: Open daily 5pm to 10pm

Visit our website for more garden information, history, maps, and a large database of plants and photos: www.streissguthgardes.com

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Streissguth Gardens

March 2022

Sunset view of Seattle