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Bellevue Botanical Garden is bigger and better than ever

Beginning with a donation by Cal and Harriet Shorts of seven acres and their home as a visitor center, the Bellevue Botanical Garden has added 17 more acres, plus a big new visitor center with plenty of room for meetings, educational events and garden research. This weekend, June 14 and 15, celebrations will mark the opening of the Trillium gift shop in the visitor center.

The garden actually comprises several varieties of garden. There's the perennial border which is especially showy this time of year when it's filled with blossoms. For those with a more rugged taste in nature, there's the alpine rock garden, as well as the native discovery garden which features Northwest native plants in a forested setting.

The waterwise garden, a project in conjunction with Bellevue Utilities, includes a kitchen garden, low water plantings, and signage with plenty of tips on mulching, lawn substitutes, and other water-smart practices.

The Yao garden is a nod to Bellevue's sister city in Japan. Visitors enter through a traditional wooden Japanese style gate constructed without nails. Inside, a combination of Japanese and American garden features creates a serene environment complete with a tiny stream cascading over rocks.

What was once a half-mile stroll now allows visitors to wander nearly two miles including the Tateuchi Loop Trail, the Lost Meadow Trail, and the Ravine Experience which features a 150 foot suspension bridge.

Volunteers are the backbone of the garden, and there are a variety of ways to participate beyond working in the garden, such as helping with the December Garden d'Lights when colored lights fashioned into flower shapes line the area. For more information on volunteering, garden events and directions, http://www.bellevuebotanical.org/