Take a springtime walk through Lakewold Gardens, a casual, intimate garden that’s just south of Tacoma in Washington State.

Spring Wildflowers

Lakewold Gardens

Lakewold Gardens, just south of Tacoma, Washington, is an estate garden with a casual, intimate appeal. Though the famous landscape architect Thomas Church was commissioned to help the owner design the 10-acre site, the garden’s small, enclosed rooms, narrow pathways and framed vistas feel very private.

When I visited the garden on a morning in mid-April, I was delighted to see a wonderful assortment of wildflowers. With the garden entirely to myself, I spent almost two hours on hands and knees, face to face with trilliums and trout lilies, hepatica, bellwort, rue-anemone, wild geranium, cyclamen and forget-me-nots.

Seeing these spring wildflowers at Lakewold stirred some of my favorite childhood memories. When I was in grade school we lived in the suburbs of Minneapolis, within biking distance of a small nature preserve. Those meadows and streams, bogs and woodlands were my refuge; filled with secret places where I could be alone in nature.

Years later I learned that this playground wasn’t just any old nature preserve. The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden is actually the oldest public wildflower garden in the United States. What good fortune I had to grow up nearby and become friends with plants I’d have the pleasure of knowing for the rest of my life.

On the Butler Garden’s website there’s a photograph of the sign above the entrance. I haven’t been back in more than 40 years, but the sign’s message “Let Nature Be Your Teacher” definitely sunk in. I had no choice but to be a gardener.

Spring Wildflowers Slideshow

Slideshow:Spring Wildflowers
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Kathy LaLiberte
Director of Gardening, Gardener’s Supply