Woodland Park’s Rose Garden is one of Seattle’s best hidden gems.
Perhaps because Portland’s much larger rose garden is the real draw for floral enthusiasts, this small plot of land next to the Woodland Park Zoo is always quiet and often sparsely populated.
Tourists in Hawaiian shirts with loud voices and selfie sticks tend to stay away, creating the perfect secluded spot for a relaxing weekend retreat.
The garden is arranged beautifully, in a manner that reminds me of Le Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. There’s a small fountain in the middle with a walkway around it, circled by styled shrubbery and with paths leading off around the roses. You can sit in a gazebo, underneath some rose-covered trellises or on one of plenty of benches in the shade.
In an effort to soak up the late afternoon sun, I spread out a blanket on the grass surrounded by bushes of flowers. I’d stopped at PCC beforehand and procured a spread of treats: strawberries, figs, smoked ham and jalepeno crackers, baby carrots, snap peas, and a bar of my favorite Dick & Taylor chocolate.
I relaxed enjoying the scent of trees and flowers, just reading. It really is astonishing how quiet and serene this little garden is, considering it’s proximity to a zoo and several high-traffic roads. While I was there a handful of children passed by, playing hide and seek or riding bikes, and another group of people appeared to be meditating in the opposite corner of the garden. I was surprised not to see more people out enjoying the beauty of the late afternoon, the luxury of sunshine in Seattle and the absolute tranquility of the park.
It felt like I had the whole place to myself.
To me, anywhere you can spend an afternoon with your shoes off, toes dirtied from frolicking between flowerbeds, shoulders tanned from laying in the sun with a good book (in this case, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth) and lips sticky with summer-ripe strawberries is a place worth adventuring to. When you live in a city it’s all the more crucial that you seek out these moments to connect with nature, to relax from the rushed, hectic pace of the workweek.