A Visit to Kruckeberg Botanic Garden/MSK Rare Plant Nursery

I recently was digging through some old photos on my hard drive and came across the pictures from my brief visit in 2009 to Kruckeberg Botanic Garden and MSK Rare Plant Nursery. This unique 4-acre garden in Shoreline, Washington is the child of Dr. Arthur Kruckeberg and his wife, Mareen, founded in 1958. Recently, in 2008, the garden became part of the park system owned by the City of Shoreline and is managed by the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Foundation. The garden contains over 2,000 species, specializing in Pacific Northwest natives and exotics that are well adapted to the PNW climate. The MSK Rare Plant Nursery is located at the garden and sales from the nursery help to fund the garden. Most of the plants sold in the nursery have been propagated from seeds or cuttings collected in the garden. You can learn more about the garden and nursery, see an inventory of available plants, and see sale dates on their website here: http://kruckeberg.org/

My visit to the garden was unfortunately rushed and I plan to return after I move back to Washington State in a couple months. I didn't even get to see the whole thing! It's not an immaculate or particularly well-designed garden, but it has cool plants adapted to the climate of the Pacific Northwest and is well worth visiting.

A selection of native plants for sunny conditions. I liked the use of gravel topdressing.
Sedums and lewisia, yes please!

A gorgeous, large specimen of Carpenteria californica greets you right behind the natives for sun. Why this California native isn't seen more often is baffling to me. Beautiful white flowers on a very attractive plant. I wish I had taken a photo of the whole plant.

They definitely have a thing for troughs here, and ever since I visited
I have been yearning to make my own.
I have a definite love for Rhododendrons, but even the most jaded PNW gardeners would have to admit the gorgeous blue-green foliage of Rhododendron oreotrephes makes it stand out from the usual landscape rhodies. The foliage made a lovely contrast with the cinnamon-colored bark of the 2-3 year old branches. Apparently this is also one of those rhodies with spicy-scented foliage.

I do love Fremontodendron californicum. This is the variety napensis. The survival and longevity of these beautiful plants can be increased by keeping their native habitat in mind. They are much hardier and will live longer if they are planted in a well-drained, nutrient-poor site. They should only be watered enough to establish them after planting, after which they need to be kept dry in the summer.

Again with the not-very-close close up and no picture of the whole plant. I had a very basic and low-quality point-and-shoot digital camera at the time. It's amazing how far digital has come in just a few years. Anyway, this is Argyrocytisus battandieri, also known as the Atlas broom, for its origin in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, or pineapple broom, for the delicious scent of its blooms. Hard to tell in this picture, but the leaves are covered in beautiful silvery hairs.

Perhaps one of the most enchanting scenes in the garden, for me, was walking under the canopy of the Pterocarya fraxinifolia. The dangling chains of seeds and the light filtering through the bright green leaves created a magical effect.
 I hope more people visit this lovely little garden as it is a great resource to see many mature specimens of unusual plants that you may have only ever seen in a nursery. Then you can buy it on site!

The information regarding Kruckeberg Botanic Garden and MSK Rare Plant Nursery was taken from their website, posted above. I received nothing for publishing this information and am not affiliated with Kruckeberg or MSK. 


  1. I had planned to visit this coming Saturday, since we were to be up in Seattle for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. However our weather has taken a drastic turn and it looks like we won't be going after all. It goes back on the list for a future trip!

    1. I hope it doesn't get as cold as some of the predictions. NOAA is forecasting in the 17-18 range, cold, but not catastrophic. Best of luck to you and your garden!


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