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June 18, 2014 at 7:50 PM

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Bellevue Botanical Garden’s welcome renewal


ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Yoko Tilley, right, works in the Waterwise Garden with a volunteer work crew at the Bellevue Botanical Garden on Wednesday. The Waterwise Garden showcases green gardening practices that conserve water, lower chemical use and preserve habitat.

The more than 300,000 people expected to come through the Bellevue Botanical Garden over the next year will find it easier to park and visit the 53-acre destination, which just added three new garden sections.

The garden opened an 8,500 square-foot visitor's center last weekend that houses an interactive park map, a new gift store, lockers for volunteers who keep up the garden, and an area for gardening classes. The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society committed $5 million toward the project after voters approved $10 million for it in the 2008 Parks & Natural Areas Levy. Jim Olson was the architect of the new visitor center.



ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Robert and Peggy Briggs, of Cheney, walk past the Bellevue Botanical Garden's new visitor center and Trillium store. "It couldn't be more beautiful," said Peggy Briggs.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The perennial Astilbe grows in the Bellevue Botanical Garden's Waterwise Garden.

Until this year, the small home of the couple that donated the initial seven acres of gardens to the city in 1984, Cal and Harriet Shorts, was used as a visitor's center. It has been kept on the garden grounds and, after a refurbishing later this summer, visitors will be able to hang out inside it again.

The gardens — including the new Sun Courtyard, Spring Court and Iris Rain Garden — are maintained by volunteers from several gardening clubs. The Bellevue Botanical Garden is open daily, and guided tours are available every Saturday and Sunday through October.



ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Robert Briggs walks through the Tateuchi Viewing Pavilion.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Timi O'Brien, left, and Sandy Lendman look at a map at the new visitor center at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. "We've been very anxious to come back to see what they've done," said O'Brien.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Cloud Yamzon, almost 2, explores the Bellevue Botanical Garden with his family. The garden celebrated the grand opening of its new visitor and education center, the Trillium store and several new gardens last weekend. Lorrissa Yamzon, Cloud's mother, said it was their first time visiting since the remodel. "It's beautiful," she said. "I love the entrance with the waterfall."

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The new Bellevue Botanical Garden entrance features a cascading waterfall with ferns.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Maggie Lund, left, works with a volunteer work crew at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The Waterwise Garden showcases green gardening practices that conserve water, lower chemical use and preserve habitat.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Alison Baber-Webb, center, a Bellevue resident, talks with Mary Anne Keyser in the new Trillium store at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The gift shop features gardening-related merchandise including books, jewelry, scarves and home goods. "I love it here," Baber-Webb said. "I'm so excited this is done."

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