South Seattle Community College Arboretum Saves the Day



Seattle is bursting with green spaces. There are many that people know about but also a few hidden gems. We stumbled across one such spot while looking for the Chinese Garden in West Seattle.

On the South Seattle Community College campus, across the parking lot from the auto shop, lays a compact, yet impressive arboretum. Built in 1978, Landscape Horticulture Program students had petitioned to have an outdoor space to serve as their living laboratory. And thank goodness they did. It saved our trek out to West Seattle that morning.

The 6-acre arboretum was broken up into 12 gardens for visitors to explore. This was the perfect size for our little explorer, his baby brother and two very tired parents to conquer in one morning. It wasn’t so big that we couldn’t immerse ourselves in each garden, but it wasn’t so small that we were in and out under an hour.

The family highlights were the C.C. Malmo Garden, the Acer Garden and the Coenosium Garden. Each stimulated our sense of touch, sight and smell. Delicate columbine tempted my fingertips. The sweet smell of spring roses hinted at a summer in full bloom. Colors popped out at ever turn. Sure there was a lot of greenery, but have you ever really thought about just how many shades of green there are? One square foot of these gardens would put Crayola to shame.

Wooden steps led down into the Malmo Garden bringing us through a lush fairy wonderland bursting with ferns and other native greens along with a bridge Dek couldn’t stop running across. Gravel crunched under our feet as we made our way to rock paths crisscrossing over a small creek in the Acer and Coenosium gardens. Our entire family was engaged, even Ty. I’m just going to assume the tranquility of the gardens is what knocked him into a deep sleep while I carried him in the Ergo.

After a rather disappointing trip through the yet-to-be-completed Chinese Garden, the arboretum was just the pick me up we needed to save our morning in West Seattle. Finding this hidden gem was an unexpected surprise that we have been telling our friends about ever since. A trip the whole family can enjoy is always worth sharing.

Know Before You Go

  • SSCC Arboretum – (north entrance)
  • Entrance is free
  • Parking on the school grounds is $2 per car per day. Bring cash.
  • Strollers are not practical on the paths throughout the arboretum. You are better off using a baby carrier or letting little legs walk.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Taryn

    These photos are beautiful, they make me really miss that vibrant greenness only found on the west coast.

  • Becca@R We There Yet Mom?

    Gorgeous photos!! It looks like a little oasis in the city.

    Thanks for linking up this week – have a super weekend!

  • Lisa

    It looks gorgeous – glad you found someplace to spend the day!!

  • Steve

    Just so you know, it’s all green. My wife has tried to teach me the differences between the shades, but it’s all just green no matter what the sample cards say.
    Fun little park.

  • Andi at The Particular Traveler

    What a nice little surprise for you, and such beautiful pictures! I love the way you write. Here’s to getting more sleep soon! 🙂

  • Sonja

    That first photo of your son looks like a professional outdoor portrait! Fabulous.

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      Thanks! My photo degree does come in handy sometimes, you know, when my brain is awake enough to remember how to use it 😉

  • Cathy Sweeney

    What a beautiful arboretum. You captured some great photos, too. Love the pic of the roses.

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