In recognition of National Volunteer Month and Landscape Architecture Month, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is celebrating the many historic gardens around the nation that could not operate without their dedicated volunteers.
The ACHP declared Dunn Gardens in Seattle, Washington, a Preserve America Steward in 2016 for the core group of volunteers who help maintain and interpret the historic gardens, designed by the noted Olmsted Brothers landscaping firm for Arthur Dunn in 1915. The Olmsted Brothers’ design retained and enhanced many of the site’s natural features. Following Dunn’s death in 1945, the property was divided among family members.
According to Dunn Gardens’ website: “The Olmsted landscape structure is still intact. The characteristic curvilinear drive and foot paths remain. The edge of the Great Lawn follows the Olmsted plan…”
Currently, 43 volunteer docents donate countless hours learning the plants, the history of the garden, and how to lead a group tour. To become a docent, volunteers must undergo a one-year training program and shadow seasoned docents. They undertake field trips to other gardens and frequently attend horticultural classes. Dunn Gardens also utilizes a number of volunteer gardeners who work with the paid staff of garden professionals to help weed and seed the more than seven-acre-garden.
“Spring is a busy time, with trees starting to bud, camellias in full bloom, erythronium dotting the landscape with their diminutive beauty, and grasses making a run skyward,” said Amanda Bailey Crandall, Dunn Gardens Trust Administrator. “Our volunteers are the heart of our operation. They are all amazing!”