Lakewold Gardens Volunteer Program

Friends of Lakewold was formed in 1987 to preserve the 10-acre Lakewold Gardens, the last remaining estate from the early 1900s in the Lakes District near Tacoma, Washington. Lakewold Gardens features landscape design by noted landscape architect Thomas Church, rare and native plants, State Champion trees, more than 900 rhododendrons, 30 Japanese maples, and stunning statuary. The property also has a 20th century Georgian-style house and carriage house. Volunteers play important roles in helping to maintain the gardens, give tours, and maintain and repair the historic buildings.

As gardeners, about 150 volunteers work year round to preserve unique "garden rooms" designed by Church. Activities include planting, weeding, and pruning, as well as special projects such as photographing more than 600 rhododendrons to create a botanical database of the collection. Volunteer docents provide visitors with guided tours from March through October. Eight docents lead tours for 800 visitors annually while training over the course of several years to become seasoned experts. Only one part-time staff position is dedicated to maintenance and repair of the property's historic buildings, so volunteers also identify such needs and carry out many maintenance and repair projects.

Youth are actively recruited and welcomed as volunteers at Lakewold. Local high school students regularly participate in the stewardship program as volunteers. Local students also created a mobile app that allows visitors to explore the historic landscape through a labeled digital map.

Designated a Preserve America Steward in May 2016.