The Washington Park Arboretum - just across the Mountlake Cut from the University of Washington - was designated as parkland in 1904. But it wasn't until 1942 that the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners working closely with the University, laid out a clear vision for the park. That vision was to create a botanical garden, a collection of temperate zone flora to serve as a jewel in Seattle's crown, which incidentally was aptly called the Queen City at the time.

In 1959 plans were made for a Japanese garden within the botanical park, mostly funded by the nonprofit Arboretum Foundation. The preeminent japanese designer Juki Iida was chosen for the task, and the highly anticipated construction began the following year.

I always find it odd when people refer to "building a park", as parks to my thinking are properties on which nature is preserved. However odd, build a park is what the city did. Today it holds thousands of plant specimens, all laid out in a very natural setting which belies the meticulous planning that went into planting it. And within this garden, this natural beauty of false pretense, lies the Seattle Japanese Garden and its re-constructed teahouse.

It's easy to miss the Japanese Garden, tucked behind an unopposing fence along Lake Washington Boulevard. In 1973 the original teahouse burned to the ground, and would not be re-built for nearly ten years. When it was re-built, it was bestowed the name "Shoseian", which means Arbor of the Murmuring Pines. Because the garden requires separate admission it's not a hugely popular draw, keeping crowds low and making the Japanese Garden and its teahouse two of the Emerald City's best kept secrets.

g. Gordon lindy