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The flowers are blooming

Local public gardens worth a view

Spring is in the air at Lakewold Gardens. Photo courtesy Lakewold Gardens

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There are some stunning South Puget Sound gardens that hit their stride beginning April 1. Typically, gardens have shorter operating days and hours, or are closed during the winter months. Early spring bulbs are already popping up, and look for shrubs such as Rhododendrons to peak in April and May. Mild temperatures and spring weather make a perfect time to visit these beautiful landscapes.

Lakewold Gardens:  Set in the heart of the Lakes District, this 10-acre estate garden overlooks Gravelly Lake. Since 1913, the gardens have been locally famous. Owned by various families over the years, they really became the showplace you see today when avid gardener Eulalie Wagner took charge. Towards the end of her life she donated the gardens to the nonprofit, Friends of Lakewold, stating her motivation, "As we become more and more city creatures, living in manmade surroundings, perhaps gardens will become even more precious to us, letting us remember that we began in the garden." A self-guided tour of the gardens will take approximately 90 minutes. Make sure to stop in the garden shop, set in the estate's original carriage house. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, 12317 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW, Lakewood, 253.584.4106, lakewoldgardens.org

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden:  This large garden is known primarily for its large variety of rhododendrons and azaleas as well as the many perennial plants and annual blooms. The species garden is home to one of the largest collections of species rhododendrons in the world. You can view over 700 of the more than 1,000 species in the display gardens. The plants come from the wilds of North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Make sure to check out the "Stumpery". This odd-looking type of garden is an intentional placing of woody material-like trunks and tree stumps. They became hugely popular in Victorian England. A great habitat for ferns, it creates interesting height levels for the plants. The RSBG has the world's largest public stumpery with over 140 stumps and logs. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, 2525 S. 336th St., Federal Way, 253.838.4646, rhodygarden.org

PowellsWood Garden:  Stroll the pathways through this lovely three-acre forest garden enjoying a pond, stream and conservatory. Enjoy more than a thousand varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials as you stroll through the distinct "garden rooms" defined by hedges or the terrain. PowellsWood Garden borders a 35-acre native successional forest. The property is maintained as a green space with valley trails. Starting at the garden you can explore a natural, undisturbed ecosystem. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, 430 S. Dash Point Rd., Federal Way, 253.529.1620, powellswood.org

Throw off your winter blues and make a trip to one of these South Puget Sound Gardens. A few things to know before you go. No pets are allowed and you can enjoy a picnic, but make sure you pack out your trash. Each garden has a gift shop, but typically no food is available unless there is an event. 

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