The other day, my husband brought me back to a place I hadn’t seen in a long time. Kind of a secret garden with lots of treasure to discover. Floral treasure, art jewels. A place that is like an oasis close to the center of a busy town. Its entrance is well-marked, yet doesn’t betray how much beauty lies beyond.
Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, WA, have their beginnings in 1908 when local Emma Alexander fell in love with the lake district of that area, bought a lot, and established a garden that achieved renown by 1913, already. Her son, a ship magnate, and his wife bought an adjacent plot and hired a designer to develop the park with vistas to Gravelly Lake and Mount Rainier. They called the place Inglewood; “ingle” stands for a domestic fireplace, by the way. The property changed owners in 1925, and the new owners renamed the place Lakewold, “wold” being an old English term for wood. In 1938, the property was sold to George Corydon and Eulalie Wagner; it is thanks to them that the estate was turned over to a non-profit organization to preserve the gardens and make them accessible to the public. You can find more details on the official website lakewoldgardens.org/# .
As this year has been wet and cold, so far, we were lucky to find quite a number of the rhododendrons in the garden still in bloom. The garden paths are winding through high woods, along little brooks, always with something new to discover around the next corner. The Wagner Villa beckons across the lawns with its almost Mediterranean architecture and terrace. It is well worth a glimpse inside. We were lucky and found a stunning exhibition of botanical watercolors by artist Jennifer Vonholstein inside (June 17 is your last chance to see it). But even the building by itself is grand with its fireplace and chandeliers, different levels, and a beautiful staircase. You can even rent the place for all kinds of events you plan privately or businesswise. And every first Sunday of a month, there is “Music from Home” at the Wagner Villa.
I strolled down to the lake past little waterfalls and statues, and there never was a place without something or other in bloom. Little benches made from wood or stone invite to sit and meditate – and there were few enough people to do so in peace that Saturday. The perks of iffy weather … Winter Garden Poetry signs with apps were installed for anybody who needed extra inspiration. It was the only thing that turned me off, to be honest. When looking for nature, I don’t want signs being in my face at the most stunning spots – I took my pictures from angles that don’t show them, therefore. But everybody’s different, right? Admittedly, I love the idea of the Fairy Fest that will take place from June 24 thru 26 – almost Shakespearean with its midsummer date.
Of course, after having ambled past the pavilion and pool, and past the colorful patch that is a paradise for insects with its diverse insect homes, a visit to the gift shop is a must. And, indeed, since that is by the entrance, you can always just go there for some stunning garden plants or accessories, for Zen color books, ceramics, jewelry, jigsaw puzzles, fun food items, and lots more.
I’m pretty sure that Lakewold Gardens are never boring, no matter during which season you visit. The quiet oasis is soothing with its colors and shapes, combining baroque elements, Asian and English garden design in a magic manner. And if you look closely, you might even discover bunnies running across the meadow below the villa’s terrace – as if they were belonging to Alice in Wonderland.