Dan was recently briefly interviewed KOUW by Jeannie Yandal during a story about stairways in Seattle featuring the new book Seattle Stairway Walks by Jeannie Yandel during a piece about stairways in Seattle based on a book by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo. It has been a thrill to run into many friends who heard the interview, and to see how many people have made a special trip to see the garden after hearing the piece.
Located on the northwest side of
Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Streissguth
Gardens is an urban oasis. A small, family-maintained garden on a steep hillside,
this little-known gem in the middle of bustling Seattle offers amazing views of
Lake Union, downtown Seattle, and the Olympic Mountains. Plantings have been selected
to offer flowers nearly every day of the year. Along with the beautiful vegetation
and view, visitors enjoy winding trails, gurgling ponds, and birdsong.
Developed gradually over the course of more than forty years, the gardens have grown
from a tangled hillside to approximately one acre of cultivated woodland. The oldest
gardens surround the family’s two houses on Broadway East, just north of the East
Blaine Street stairway. These gardens remain private, but visitors are welcome by
appointment. The newer portions of the gardens lie south of the East Blaine stairs
and they are now publicly owned and open to visitors year-round. The Streissguths
still maintain these newer gardens for their new owner, the City of Seattle Department
of Parks and Recreation.
In 1962, Dan Streissguth completed building his house on the lot he had purchased
north of the Blaine Street stair. He immediately commenced work on the garden surrounding
his new home. In 1965 Ann moved into the adjacent house at 1806 Broadway East and
began at once working on her hillside garden. The winter of 1968 saw the two gardens
combined through Ann and Dan’s marriage. The coupled settled into what had been
Dan´s house, leasing out Ann’s house in the years since, while continuing to care
for the combined gardens. 1970 welcomed the birth of Ann and Dan’s son, Benjamin.
In 1972 the family purchased the hillside lots south of the Blaine Street stairway
and began nurturing them into a cultivated green space. After twenty-four years
of growth and development, the family’s 1996 gift of the land to the city led to
the garden becoming a public space. That same year, as the Streissguth land was
transferred to public ownership, the city purchased (from a third party) the larger
hillside tract abutting the existing garden to the south. The gifted garden and
the adjacent heavily-wooded purchased land have become extensions of the city´s
St. Mark´s Greenbelt. This carried the older
1/4 mile long green space a full city block further north, connecting it to the
busily-used public stair right-of-way along East Blaine Street.
In Love with A Hillside Garden
As the garden has grown and matured, the number of people enjoying and visiting
them has also grown. It has been featured in several newspaper articles, several
magazines, and even a short TV spot.
In 2009 our book, In Love with a Hillside Garden,
was released. We are grateful to the
University of Washington Press
for all their wonderful efforts during the publication, and the
for co-sponsoring the publication of our book.
We have been thrilled to work with the University of Washington Press in publishing
our book about the Garden: In Love with a Hillside
Garden and are very grateful to the Seattle Arboretum Foundation
for their co-sponsoring of the book. We are pleased to announce that all the proceeds
of the book are donated directly to the Arboretum Foundation. We hope you´ll pick
up a copy today, either at the
Arboretum gift shop,
online at the UW Press, or your local
small book dealer. If all else fails, you can get it at the major bookstore chains
and at online retails.