Located on the northwest side of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighbourhood, 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 existing St Marks 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.
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 for all their wonderful efforts during the publication, and the Arboretum Foundation 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.