History

The roots of the Bellevue Botanical Garden lie in its past and the people who worked together to fashion a Garden in the woods, in the heart of the City of Bellevue

1981

Cal and Harriet Shorts deed their mid-century home and 7.5 acres of “arboretum” land to the City of Bellevue, with the provision it remains a public park.

1984

Iris and Bob Jewett approach Parks director Lee Springgate about creating a botanical garden on the Shorts property. The City and the Shorts family agree this is a great idea. The Jewetts and numerous volunteers launch the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society to promote the creation of Bellevue Botanical Garden. The City of Bellevue sets aside 10 acres increasing the total acreage to 17.5.

1986

In January, the Society incorporates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in the State of Washington.

1989

The City of Bellevue and the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society complete the Master Plan for the Garden. Saved by the Bellevue Historical Society, the rustic Sharp cabin from early 1900 relocates to the Garden from its former home at NE 8th and 124th Avenue NE. The City of Bellevue sets aside 19 more acres, increasing total acreage to 36.

1990

The former Shorts’ residence undergoes renovation to become a visitor center. The Northwest Perennial Alliance (NPA) installs the Perennial Border. The Yao Garden relocates from Kelsey Creek Park to the Garden. The Eastside Fuchsia Society installs the Fuchsia Garden.

1991

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society’s first docent class meets.

1992

The Bellevue Botanical Garden opens to the public on June 27.

1993

The Puget Sound Dahlia Society installs the first Dahlia Display.

1994

The Waterwise Garden, a cooperative effort of the City of Bellevue Parks and Utilities Departments, opens to the public.
The East Lake Washington District of Garden Clubs installs the Wildflower Garden along the Lake-to-Lake Trail next to Main Street. The Garden dedicates the Yao Japanese Garden. The Living Lab school program launches to introduce students, kindergarten to grade 5, to the concepts of botany and natural science.

1997

The Alpine Rock Garden opens to the public. First master plan update.

1999

The original Native Plant Garden opens to the public, and later becomes the Native Discovery Garden in a new location.

2006

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society helps the City of Bellevue purchase additional acreage, increasing the total to 53 acres.

2007

The Garden partners with the Hardy Fern Foundation for management of the Garden’s fern collection. Rhododendron Glen is built.

2008

Second master plan update.

2009

Northwest Perennial Alliance Perennial Border two-year renovation project begins with assistance from the Society.

2010

A Collections Stewardship grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services funds an inventory update of Garden plant collections.

2012

The Ravine Experience opens with a suspension bridge and bird-friendly habitat trail.

2013

Construction begins on the 8,500 square foot Visitor Center and The Aaron Education Center, made possible by a City of Bellevue Parks Levy and generous Bellevue Botanical Garden Society donors. A Learning Experiences grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services funds our interactive visitor map, bed markers and interpretive signs, and an oral history of BBG conducted in partnership with the Eastside Heritage Center.

2014

The new Visitor Center and The Aaron Education Center open to the public in June, along with new gardens: the Entry and Parking Lot Winter Gardens, the Entry Courtyard Gardens, the Iris Rain Garden, the Wetland, and the Spring Courtyard and Tapestry Hedge.

2015

The Garden partners with the Northwestern Chapter of North American Rock Garden Society to care for the Rock Garden.

2016

The Garden partners with the Washington Native Plant Society to assist with the native plant collection and care of the Native Discovery Garden. A grant from Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust helps the NPA fund the construction of their Plant Propagation Exhibit. Copper Kettle Coffee Bar opens in the Shorts House.

2017

The Urban Meadow opens to the public. The City of Bellevue, the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, and all Garden partners celebrate the Garden’s 25th anniversary in June.

1981

Cal and Harriet Shorts deed their mid-century home and 7.5 acres of “arboretum” land to the City of Bellevue, with the provision it remains a public park.

1984

Iris and Bob Jewett approach Parks director Lee Springgate about creating a botanical garden on the Shorts property. The City and the Shorts family agree this is a great idea. The Jewetts and numerous volunteers launch the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society to promote the creation of Bellevue Botanical Garden. The City of Bellevue sets aside 10 acres increasing the total acreage to 17.5.

1986

In January, the Society incorporates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in the State of Washington.

1989

The City of Bellevue and the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society complete the Master Plan for the Garden. Saved by the Bellevue Historical Society, the rustic Sharp cabin from early 1900 relocates to the Garden from its former home at NE 8th and 124th Avenue NE. The City of Bellevue sets aside 19 more acres, increasing total acreage to 36.

1990

The former Shorts’ residence undergoes renovation to become a visitor center. The Northwest Perennial Alliance (NPA) installs the Perennial Border. The Yao Garden relocates from Kelsey Creek Park to the Garden. The Eastside Fuchsia Society installs the Fuchsia Garden.

1991

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society’s first docent class meets.

1992

The Bellevue Botanical Garden opens to the public on June 27.

1993

The Puget Sound Dahlia Society installs the first Dahlia Display.

1994

The Waterwise Garden, a cooperative effort of the City of Bellevue Parks and Utilities Departments, opens to the public.
The East Lake Washington District of Garden Clubs installs the Wildflower Garden along the Lake-to-Lake Trail next to Main Street. The Garden dedicates the Yao Japanese Garden. The Living Lab school program launches to introduce students, kindergarten to grade 5, to the concepts of botany and natural science.

1997

The Alpine Rock Garden opens to the public. First master plan update.

1999

The original Native Plant Garden opens to the public, and later becomes the Native Discovery Garden in a new location.

2006

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society helps the City of Bellevue purchase additional acreage, increasing the total to 53 acres.

2007

The Garden partners with the Hardy Fern Foundation for management of the Garden’s fern collection. Rhododendron Glen is built.

2008

Second master plan update.

2009

Northwest Perennial Alliance Perennial Border two-year renovation project begins with assistance from the Society.

2010

A Collections Stewardship grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services funds an inventory update of Garden plant collections.

2012

The Ravine Experience opens with a suspension bridge and bird-friendly habitat trail.

2013

Construction begins on the 8,500 square foot Visitor Center and The Aaron Education Center, made possible by a City of Bellevue Parks Levy and generous Bellevue Botanical Garden Society donors. A Learning Experiences grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services funds our interactive visitor map, bed markers and interpretive signs, and an oral history of BBG conducted in partnership with the Eastside Heritage Center.

2014

The new Visitor Center and The Aaron Education Center open to the public in June, along with new gardens: the Entry and Parking Lot Winter Gardens, the Entry Courtyard Gardens, the Iris Rain Garden, the Wetland, and the Spring Courtyard and Tapestry Hedge.

2015

The Garden partners with the Northwestern Chapter of North American Rock Garden Society to care for the Rock Garden.

2016

The Garden partners with the Washington Native Plant Society to assist with the native plant collection and care of the Native Discovery Garden. A grant from Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust helps the NPA fund the construction of their Plant Propagation Exhibit. Copper Kettle Coffee Bar opens in the Shorts House.

2017

The Urban Meadow opens to the public. The City of Bellevue, the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, and all Garden partners celebrate the Garden’s 25th anniversary in June.