Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden
The Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden (22 acres) is a nonprofit botanical garden specializing in rhododendrons, located at 2525 South 336th Street, Federal Way, Washington. It is open to the public daily, except Mondays.
The organization was founded in 1964 by members of the American Rhododendron Society to develop a comprehensive collection of the rhododendron species. In 1974, after outgrowing several other sites, the collection moved to its current location, provided by Weyerhaeuser Company corporate headquarters. In 1980 the garden opened to the public on a limited basis.
As of 2006 the Foundation's mission is devoted to the conservation, research, acquisition, evaluation, cultivation, public display, and distribution of rhododendron species. The gardens contain over 10,000 rhododendrons of species origin, and set within a woodland of native conifers.
In 2010 the RSBG opened the 5,000 sq. ft. Rutherford Conservatory, a climate-controlled greenhouse open to the public that displays a collection of tropical rhododendrons known as vireyas. The section vireya, which has about 319 species, is found almost entirely in Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, the Philippine Islands, Malaysia, Thailand and New Guinea. Some of the vireyas on display in the Rutherford Conservatory are nearing extinction in their native habitat due to forest degradation. In addition, other rare plants such as wild orchid species and tree ferns are displayed, all growing together as one would see them in their native habitats that span oceans and continents. This new exhibit serves to further the Garden's mission of education about the biology of plants as well as raising awareness of the environmental degradation that is taking place in these far distant lands due to the actions of people close and near.
The RSBG's Executive Director & Curator, Steve Hootman, undertakes regular plant-hunter expeditions to discover, identify and acquire species rhododendrons.
Additional areas in the Garden include the Victorian Stumpery, Himalayan Blue Poppy Meadow, Alpine Rockery Garden and Pond Garden. The Garden Gift Shop and Nursery are located within the Garden.
- History of the Rhododendron Species Foundation, Clarence Barrett, Eugene, Oregon, 1994.
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