Native Plant demonstration Garden

Gardens grow, flourish, and evolve. We sustain the Kruckeberg legacy by maintaining and conserving the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden (KBG). It is also our responsibility to identify garden enhancement opportunities. Therefore, we honor the legacy of Dr. Art and Mareen Kruckeberg’s contribution to botany and horticulture in the Pacific Northwest with our newest installation, the Native Plant Demonstration Garden.

The KBG was founded in 1958 in rural Shoreline by Dr. Arthur and Mareen Kruckeberg, botanists and horticulturalists who amassed a collection of Northwest natives and rarely cultivated species in the property surrounding their home. Both Art and Mareen were involved with local horticultural societies and helped form several that are still active today, such as the Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS), the Hardy Fern Foundation, the Northwest Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, and the Northwest Horticultural Society (NHS). They collaborated on the creation of Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest (1982), which was named one of the top 50 gardening books of all time by the American Horticultural Society. Together, the Kruckebergs were pioneers in propagating, popularizing, and selling native plants for use in ornamental horticulture long before it became ecologically and fashionably favorable.


As a lasting tribute to Art and Maureen, KBGF has created a Native Plant Demonstration Garden (NPDG) to provide the public with a presentation of the region’s natural landscape and to highlight the aesthetic potential of gardening with PNW native plants. Though native plants are found throughout KBG, there was never a clearly defined PNW natives-only area.

WNPS awarded the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Foundation (KBGF) two mini grants: $650 from the state board to support the purchase of native plants and $500 from the Central Puget Sound Chapter for signage. KBGF raised a total of $15,000 from WNPS, the BNSF Foundation, Rainbird, and Northwest Horticultural Society for Phase 1. 


The conceptual design was completed in 2012 as a collaborative effort between KBGF Horticultural Staff and Washington Association of Landscape Professionals (WALP) member and KBGF Board Member Sandra Hasegawa Ingalls of Foresight Design. The design was drafted by WALP member Linda Zimmer of Landscapes by Linda.

The design includes various native plant communities, including a Puget Sound forest understory, a prairie, a fern grotto, and a wetland area. KBGF staff prepared a detailed planting plan for specific 1._Planting_Plan-whiteareas to expand the initial plant list and provide a planting guide for volunteers. A special planting plan was created for the “White Garden,” an area that the late Mareen Kruckeberg always wanted to build. As homage to Mareen, white-flowering native species—such as vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla), white fawn lily (Erythronium oreganum), western wakerobin (Trillium ovatum), goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus), queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora), large boykinia (Boykinia major), and stream orchid (Epipactus giganteum)—were clustered together with a variety of ferns to highlight the enchanting monochrome palette.


Site Preparation and Installation

KBGF staff and volunteers prepared the space by thinning existing vegetation, relocating existing plants, and enhancing the soil with topsoil, sand, and woodchips. Earthcorps crews delineated the planting areas with Tenino stone and spread compost. Materials were generously donated by Marenakos, Sawdust Supply, Cedar Grove, and Seattle Tree Preservation. KBGF staff led the installation work parties during Fall 2012 with over 50 volunteers from Microsoft, Mutual of Omaha, Artemis Gardens, our dedicated “Thursday volunteers”, and numerous garden visitors to sheet mulch, place woody debris, and plant native plants and bulbs. 

Plants of the NPDG

We acquired plant material through purchases and donation of plants from respected local native plant nurseries, including plants propagated onsite at MsK Rare and Native Plant Nursery. Plants were generously donated from the Center for Natural Lands Management South Sounds Prairies Program, Fourth Corner Nursery, Go Natives Nursery, Obelisk Native Plant Nursery, Tadpole Haven, Watershed Garden Works, Storm Lake Nursery, Lisa and Brent Simpson, and Julie O’Donald.

We have planted over 200 native species in the NPDG to date. They include the ornamental “usual suspect” natives: fringecup (Tellima grandiflora), Oregon grape (Mahonia repens), Oregon boxwood (Paxistima myrsinites), evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), inside-out flower (Vancouveria hexandra), and Western wake robin (Trillium ovatum).

We are also excited to be able to highlight less common or unusual natives in the landscape. In addition to the plants in the White Garden, the Phase I woodland plantings include Fool’s huckleberry3._Prairie (Menziesia ferrunginea), Douglas’ grasswidow (Olysnium douglasii), coast polypody (Polypodium scouleri), pink honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula), alpine spicy wintergreen (Gaultheria humifusa), white giant wakerobin (Trillium chloropetalum), Fendler’s meadow-rue (Thalictrum fendleri), trailing snowberry (Symphoricarpus hesperius), pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata), hairy manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana), white brodiaea (Triteleia laxa), and rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia). In our central Puget Sound prairie, we have included barestem biscuitroot (Lomatium nudicale), common camas (Camassia quamash), Roemer's fescue (Festuca roemeri), and deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhizza deltoidea). We also kept a few KBG unique natives in the mix: the double flowered salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) and white-flowering red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum ‘white icicle’); both species have been previously grown in KBG.

We are incorporating the NPDG in our normal tours. We look forward to the NPDG becoming a focal point for both adult and youth education. Additionally, many of the species that are planted in the NPDG are available for purchase at MsK Nursery. As visitors see the ornamental value of natives, which are inherently optimal and sustainable choices for our Northwest climate, they will have the opportunity to also purchase these plants for their own garden.

Next Steps

We have raised about $70,000 in grants for the installation of Phase 2 of the NPDG, set to begin by spring 2016! This will get us started on the water feature and wetland and riparian plantings. Building the water feature requires bringing electricity into the Meadow. Once complete, we look forward to the new NPDG including a pond and riffle-pools, and plantings representing those along mid-elevation forest streams and alpine lakes.

If you are interested in participating in the next phase of the development of the NPDG by volunteering or contributing, contact Cynthia Welte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .