Carl S. English Jr.

A Botanical Sanctuary

On this day in 1974, in Seattle, Washington, that seven acres of gardens were named in honor of the eminent horticulturist, Carl S. English Jr.

The gardens are located on the Lake Washington Ship Canal and overlook the Hiram Chittenden Locks which connect Puget Sound to Lake Washington. The locks and the canal offer their own beauty and are fascinating to watch. And, every year, hundreds of thousands of salmon and trout climb the fish ladder in their annual migration.

English was the supervisor of the gardens for 36 years, from 1940 until his death in 1976.

After graduating with a degree in botany from Washington State University, Carl was hired by the locks to tend the grounds. The seven acres were intended to be used as a demonstration field where soldiers could march. In reality, the area sat idle.

Being a botanist, Carl thought the grounds had potential and would have loved to install a garden on the spot, but there was no budget. So, Carl used his own time and went on many plant collecting trips around the world. Not surprisingly, Carl always brought back seeds and specimens for the garden. In addition, Carl and his wife, who was also a botanist, had a small seed business and published a seed catalog.

Today, this lovely arboretum and specimen garden is home to nearly 1,500 flower varieties.

There’s a charming description of the garden by Dr. Arthur Kruckeberg written in the Summer of 1959:

“To be sure, the average visitor enters the grounds bent on viewing the activity of boats and people at the locksides. Yet, once entering the north gate, one senses the change from the clutter and crowding of city life to the serenity and expansive beauty of a park. To the knowing eye, the plantings are not at all typical of just any park. The keen gardener, horticulturalists, or botanist is at once convinced that he has stepped into a botanical sanctuary-a true arboretum.”


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Carl S. English Jr.
Carl S. English Jr.

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