The Miller Botanical Garden Part II

Let's jump right in to Miller Botanical Garden Part II. My last post covered the first part of our recent visit and details about the garden; it can be reviewed here. For now, let's keep touring this incredible garden north of Seattle on a five-acre parcel of land that spills down into Puget Sound.

The sunny bank below the house with a barely visible path winding its way up to the lawn and shade. This is the general area where we parked, but at this point we had the garden to ourselves. But before we reach the part where "we have it to ourselves," I'll finish the tour we enjoyed with Richie.

Making our way around the house on the second half of the tour I found myself drawn to the planters on the patio for a more detailed viewing. They are basically all the same kind of structures repeated in different sizes so even though there were several, there was continuity and clean lines.  

An array of types of plant material is represented, from shade loving hostas to ferns, coniferous plants, alpine plants and more in these plantings. It makes one consider all kinds of possibilities for this type of display. It sure starts the creative juices flowing.

A sweet and incredibly challenging plant to grow (for me, at least) Lewisiopsis tweedyi, my favorite lewisia.

From the lawn up to the house a beautiful set of stairs is adorned with seasonal containers. Here tulips, narcissus and cordyline add vivid colors against a background of greens of the garden.

I mentioned Richie worked for the Rhododendron Species Botanical Gardens before his time at the Miller, so it's no wonder that the garden is filled with interesting and uncommon rhododendrons and azaleas. This is Rhododendron 'Nuccio's Purple Dragon' in a container near the parking area.

Even the shadows here are special.

At the base of a hill somewhere between the sunny and shady rockery. 

Soft details. I do love moss for it gives a sense of coolness and of a woodland patina.

Menziesia ciliicalyx var. purpurea

Wollemia nobilis, wollemia pine, thought to be extinct is now in cultivation. It is a spectacular conifer. Here the brown needles are a result of what Richie believes was a cold winter wind, but the tree itself is otherwise healthy. There are a few of these special pines at the Miller. I've seen these in Australia as well as at Kew Gardens in the U.K. I was surprised as I did not think they were hardy for us.

Rodgersia forest beginning to emerge.

A very rare fern, Osmunda lancea or lance-leaf royal fern, is one of only two specimens in all of North America, according to Richie. We all ooohed and aaaawed appropriately. I do love royal ferns. I think my garden is a bit too dry for their liking, however.

A relaxed scene in the wild garden area.

Pretty primula colors pop in the sunny rockery area.

Schefflera trevesioides leaves looking amazing.

We worked our way to the lookout, i.e., a deck built above a wild area below that tumbles to Puget Sound. What a view. For those of you unfamiliar with this part of the world, this is looking west towards the Olympic mountain range.

There were so many containers with ferns and other delights potted up at the lookout. This one in particular caught my attention, perhaps a Pyrrosia species?

As did new growth of this mahonia.

I believe this is a soft tree fern, Dicksonia antarctica.

Of course, this is Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'. Not incredibly rare but the interesting story is that Elisabeth Miller was the first to cultivate this particular plant, among others, in the U.S. 

Disporum cantoniense - probably 'Night Heron' in the upper garden region.

Dodecatheon, likely meadia f. album, mixed with trilliums near the wild garden shade area.

It's a fern party! Austroblechnum penna-marina, alpine water fern, mixed with emerging fronds of another fern that could be Adiantum aleuticum, western maidenhair fern.

Camassia or camas, one of our more spectacular native plants, is in full stride. 

Fascinating shrub, Rhododendron spinuliferum (thank you Erik for the i.d.!)

A path along the western side of the garden with a Japanese maple providing a canopy.

From the parking lot looking towards the house.

A beautiful display of carnivorous pitcher plants in a container perched on a stump.

From the lower end of the garden looking up towards some out buildings.

Osmunda or royal fern foliage unfurling.

Fothergilla blooms catch the late afternoon light after some high clouds moved in.

This is in the nursery - and for Gina who pointed this out to me as a plant she desires. Pteridophyllum racemosum has fern like foliage and a stem of airy bell shaped white flowers. What's not to love?

In fact, towards the end of the afternoon, everyone else had left and we were graciously given access to the whole gardens on our own. High clouds moved in for some filtered light and we just had a blast exploring on our own for an hour or so.

Podophyllum (likely delavayi) foliage in a shady area.

A sweet maidenhair spleenwort, Asplenium trichomanes.

The nursery where, of course, Anna, Gina and I were right at home. Everyone was so kind to us. Del even gave us a couple of treasures to take home. They work really hard propagating for the garden and had a wonderful selection of plant material we all drooled over. Unfortunately they can't sell plants on the property, these are to use here at the Miller.

Hepatica acutiloba foliage.

Pulstatilla looking gorgeous in the rock garden area.

The same scene as in the beginning of the first post about the Miller but later in the day with softer light.

A wider shot

And wider still. What a fabulous several hours we spent in this very special garden. Once again we all thank Richie, Del and the rest of the crew for welcoming us and giving us your undivided attention. We were spoiled for visuals and for commentary and were a overwhelmed by the voluptuous beauty that the Miller Botanical Garden shows in springtime. We will all be back. Please explore their website for a great amount of useful information - especially the Great Plant Picks link and website. This non-profit (that began through the Miller and its educational outreach) is dedicated to highlighting appropriate plants for Pacific Northwest gardens with all kinds of useful plant lists and descriptions as well as Richie's amazing photography. 

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you for coming along on my Miller Botanical Garden journey, I hope you have enjoyed it a fraction as much as we did. There is so much to take in and learn in this very special part of the Pacific Northwest. 


  1. Anonymous9:51 AM PDT

    The second half as good as the first! Thank you so much. I believe your fascinating shrub, is Rhododendron spinuliferum. It was in bloom when I visited years ago and the identification was provided by Richie himself! Thanks again for allowing me to trip down memory lane!! Erik

    1. Wonderful, thank you for the plant i.d. and for your kind words. Very happy to take you down (plant) memory lane - the Miller is a worthy dream.

  2. What a special day you must all have had wandering through. Even more so as you got to check out the working areas where the greenhouse and propagation tables were. The Miller is such a beautiful garden. What makes it so special is it still seems like someone's private garden. No signs, kiosks, etc. Thanks for the tour.

    1. The working areas are always fun to see, I do agree. It does seem like someone's private garden, that's a really good point. It was for years - so lucky for us we get to see it since Elisabeth left it in good hands to continue on.

  3. Anonymous8:35 AM PDT

    I find the elevated trough planters very desirable, both stylistically with the clean lines, and convenient: elevated miniature ecosystems one can get lost in.
    Some of the more exotic Rhodies probably find shelter in the spacious greenhouse in winter; they are so gorgeous.
    Primula! I love them. So do the slugs. While devouring the purple and orange, they seem less interested in the white blooms... is that even possible???

    1. Hi Chavli, I do too! They are so well done. Yes, probably right about the rhodies, the greenhouses were packed as it was but I'm sure they shelter some. So...what's with your slugs? Quite discriminating! ;)

  4. Sweet! I loved walking this garden again with you and your camera, it's such a treasure.

    1. Thanks, Danger. It IS such a treasure. I'd love to see it in autumn someday. For now your gorgeous posts will keep me satisfied for an autumn tour.

  5. That's definitely a garden I'd love to see in person if (when!) I get up that way. There are so many beautiful plants I can't grow but a few I could. I was surprised at how beautiful the Wollemia pine was even in its brown state.

    1. Oh Kris, if there's ever a way! If you're serious and you know in advance you'll be in the PNW, ping me and we'll see about getting tickets when you are here. They sell FAST and are super limited.

      The Woolemia still had stature and grace - yes, beautiful despite the browning, I agree.


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