One of Seattle’s lesser-known garden and landscape treasures is the campus of Seattle University, what I like to refer to as the Seattle University Garden Walk. The campus is 20 minutes by foot from the center of downtown Seattle, and is easily reachable by either auto or by bus. The campus landscape is composed of a number of individual gardens that are tied together by the campus walkways. The entire campus is flat and is only 50 acres so a walk to see all of the campus is not a major undertaking.
The landscaping and gardens are lovely any time of the year but spring foliage, it is in full bloom right now, and the soft lighting of the sun this time of year combines to offer a stunning visual treat. When school is in session, you can go into the Albers Building, buy an espresso, and enjoy the yellow and red Dale Chihuly tower installation. A great starting point is the large garden behind the Administration Building, an area bounded by Broadway and Madison. You can enter the garden on the walkway by the Administration Building or by the entrance on Broadway that will lead you down steps in to the garden. The garden is a visual treat and a wonderful introduction as to what you are about to see on the larger campus. A walking path circles the garden.
Must See-Seattle University Garden Walk
- Stunning gardens and landscaping
- The Chapel of St. Ignatius (this is also a top Seattle attraction)
- The Dale Chihuly tower installation in the Albers Pigott Building
Storied History-Seattle University Garden Walk
Fujitaro Kubota, who designed the stunning Kutoba Garden in Seattle, is responsible for a large number of venerable trees on campus, many of which have historical significance. The many true cedars and pines that are now grand, mature trees were planted by Kubota in the 1950’ and 1960’s. Although there is no official record, it is believed the Giant Sequoia, SU’s signature tree was also brought to campus by Kubota. Several of the gardens were also designed by Fujitaro Kubota. Cisco Morris, well known TV personality followed Fujitaro Kubota and spent nearly 24 years as SU’s gregarious garden guru.
Campus Gardens-University Garden Walk
Taqwsheblu Vi Hilbert Ethnobotanic Garden
This garden highlights plants used for food, utility and sacred uses by indigenous peoples in the Northwest. The Ethnobotanic Garden is located south of the Library along 10th Ave to Cherry St.
Kubota Designed Gardens on Campus
These gardens are the creation of designer Fugitaro Kubota and where created in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Many of the trees are impressively large now and majestic. Locations and a brief description can be found here. You can get a list of the gardens he designed and the plants by clicking Kubota Designed Gardens and then clicking here.
This garden is located at the front of the Fine Arts Building; this garden was a joint venture between the Grounds and Fine Arts Departments. Plants located here are mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.
The Ciscoe Morris Biodiversity Garden
This garden was completed in 2008, the purpose of this garden is to demonstrate a variety of principles used to increase local biodiversity; this includes displays of plants that attract beneficial insects and birds, shade tolerant native plants that are good alternatives for other groundcovers, and the benefits of mulching and composting for increasing soil biodiversity. The garden is located behind Loyola Hall.
Japanese American Remembrance Garden
The dedication for this garden was in 2006, this garden was designed by Al Kubota, grandson of Fujitaro Kubota, to remember the Japanese Americans who lived in this area that were interned at camps during World War II which was the fate of Fujitaro. Large rocks and plantings represent the experience of breaking apart and coming together again. The garden is located between Hunthausen, Lynn, and Xavier Hall.
This garden is located above the rockery in front of the Nursing School. These plants all have current or historical medicinal value.
Chardin Community Garden
These are raised beds in a p-patch style garden tended by members of the Seattle University community. Organic methods are used to maintain the beds in accordance with Seattle University
Campion Hall Japanese Tea Garden
This was originally created by Fujitaro Kubota. While not a traditional Tea Garden design, this space evokes the concepts of space, balance, and nature that traditional Japanese gardens possess.
There are two rain gardens on campus; the first rain garden grows in what was formerly a lawn in front of the Lynn Building. After rain events in 2006 flooded the basements of Lynn, Hunthausen, Xavier, and the Chapel, this garden was designed to capture runoff from Spring and Madison streets. Rain gardens hold water in the soil and release them into the ground water slowly, keeping the water out of storm drains. The second rain garden on the library grounds.
This garden is located at the northwest corner of the Union Green. These two beds and the bog between them are designed to attract beneficial insects, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. Plants in these beds provide food in the form of seeds, nectar, and leaves for insects and birds. Throughout the growing season this garden is alive with activity.
General Information-Seattle University Garden Walk
901 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122 (Map & Directions)
Seattle University’s Grounds Department has practiced sustainable landscape management practices since 1986. The Grounds staff is committed to steward an environmentally friendly campus that functions as an urban wildlife sanctuary. Go to sustainability practices for more information.