Demonstration Gardens

Welcome to Carkeek Park Demonstration Gardens

The land that is now Carkeek Park was once covered with pristine old growth forest, home to a rich and diverse population of plants and animals, including salmon spawning in Piper’s Creek.  After logging in the late 1800’s, the land became the homestead of the Piper family, who farmed, pastured livestock, and planted a European-style orchard.

The Piper family’s legacy of sustainable land use practices is embodied in the salmon recovery effort in Piper’s Creek and in the gardens you see around you.

The gardens were initially installed in the early 1990’s with the intent of demonstrating principals of natural-style gardening – defined as gardening that does not use pesticides, uses little or no supplemental water, and does not use fertilizers.  In addition, the gardens strive to create an environment that supplies food and habitat to wildlife, and contributes to the pollinator corridor that exists in many parks and private gardens in Seattle.

Restoration of, and addition to, the gardens began in November 2011, with the following goals:

  • Supporting native and migratory bird populations utilizing the park by growing plants that supply food, shelter, and nesting materials year-round. Seed heads left on plants through winter and into early spring are an important food source for birds.
  • Supplying clean water year-round for birds by maintaining two birdbaths.
  • Building and maintaining a Pollinator Corridor to support native bees, butterflies, moths, insects.
  • Growing plants that support the forests of Carkeek and that are compatible with soil conditions within the Park.
  • Demonstrating to homeowners the wide variety of plants that thrive in PNW gardens without the use of fertilizers, and that are low-maintenance. Many of these plants are native to the PNW.  Other plants here in the Gardens are native to other parts of the US but are very successful in this area.
  • Demonstrating the wide variety of plants that thrive in extreme climate conditions of extended summer drought, drenching rains in fall, winter, and spring, and unexpected freeze-thaw periods. Many of these plants are native to, or represent, the Palouse.
  • Maintaining the Gardens without the use of pesticides and herbicides.
  • Enhancing the natural beauty of the Park.

Today, the Demonstration Gardens consist of the following:

Backyard Wildlife Garden, Ethno-botany and Rain Gardens, Butterfly Garden, Shady Woodlands, Kitchen Garden, Native Plant Garden, Oak Island, Hazel Wolf Garden, Prairie-style Garden.

Please see the Carkeek Park Guided Tour brochure for plant lists.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact:

Master Gardner: Drexie Malone | 206.550.5406 |