Elda Behm’s Paradise Garden
Elda Behm’s Paradise Garden is a 1-acre symbolic re-creation of Elda’s Behm’s original Paradise Garden. One of the garden’s crown jewels, the Paradise Garden is located at the entrance of Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden.
Elda’s original garden was condemned in 1997 to make way for the Port of Seattle’s third runway at Sea-Tac Airport. Spearheaded by local City Council member and avid gardener Stephen Lamphear, a foundation was formed to save the garden. In the winter of 2000-2001 more than 200 volunteers, the Port of Seattle, and the City of SeaTac teamed up to relocate the thousands of plants Elda had grown from seeds and cuttings to the new Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden.
The focal point of the Paradise Garden is a recirculating water feature designed by Russell Water Gardens. The pond and stream include four waterfalls which empty into a 100-foot stream, which in turn empties into a 5,500-gallon pond. The water feature is centered around a huge cedar stump salvaged from Elda’s previous pond garden and a massive glacial erratic during pond excavation. An erratic differs from the size and type of rock native to the area in which it rests.
The Paradise Garden really lives up to its name, boasting a huge collection of plants including many great varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas, plus a seemingly endless kaleidoscope of beautiful blooming perennials including peonies, crocosmia, astilbe and many more! During its peak bloom around Mother’s Day, the Paradise Garden is a spectacle that is hard to match!
In 2002, with the assistance of a group of Highline High School seniors, a 10,000-square-foot Shade Garden was added. The Shade Garden was Elda’s final contribtion to the Paradise Garden and is maintained by her good friend, Jolly Eitelberg.
As you walk the winding path beneath the dappled light of the existing alders and madronas you will find a wonderful variety of shade plants including a myriad of hostas, ferns, hellebores and beautiful black trilliums.
The Paradise Garden also contains an amazing collection of specimen trees. Among the most prized specimens you’ll find in the garden include large Parrotia persica and Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’ that were relocated from Elda’s original garden. You will also notice many other great trees including several gorgeous Japanese maples, Styrax japonica, Stewartia pseudocamellia, Halesia monticola, and Pawlonia tomentosa.
One of the great things about the Paradise Garden is that it is a joy to walk through at any time of the year! Even in the middle of winter you will find this garden intriguing and inviting.