Friends of Jensen-Olson Arboretum

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Explore the Garden

Explore the nine garden areas of the Jensen-Olson Arboretum with the interactive map and through the tabs below and find the collection of plants located in the area.

Resource links

Garden features

Explore the garden areas

1 - Entry Plaza

Visits begin at the parking lot along Glacier Highway. There are two paths: on the left, the wood gate leads to the arboretum; on the right, the Pt. Caroline Trail winds into the forest to arrive at a bluff overlooking Favorite Channel.  The visitor panel at the top provides useful information regarding open hours, land conservation, and more. Further down the path is the Entry Plaza with information kiosk. Here visitors will find additional information regarding plant collections, use of the grounds, and local events. Passing under the Entry Arch into the gardens visitors are immediately surrounded with a variety of exotic-looking plants.

2 - Rhododendron Corridor

The Rhododendron Corridor takes its name from the huge shrubs bordering the forest. Blue poppies to the south are stunning in early summer. There are several photo-worthy beds and many interesting trees, including the Grand Apple Tree, a paperbark maple, and birdnest spruce. A bench invites visitors to sit and enjoy the view across the gardens towards the Shrine of St. Therese. Shelves alongside the gardeners’ shed display samples from the Nationally Accredited CollectionTM  of Primula which is located at the Jensen-Olson Arboretum.

3 - Native Beds

Walking toward the shore, visitors round the Veggie Garden bordered by the Meadow Bed containing Golden Chain Trees that produce impressive strings of yellow flowers in late spring. In addition to beds featuring indigenous plants, a cherry tree is dedicated to the memory of Caroline Jensen. The bench above the beach provides an unobstructed view of Pearl Harbor where marine mammals such as whales, sea lions, and seals commonly visit. 

4 - Veggie Garden

Gates above and below the Veggie Garden provide visitors access for a leisurely stroll among the rows. Rhubarb is prolific, and much is donated to area nonprofits. Tlingit potatoes with local history have been harvested by students in the Tlingit Culture, Language and Literacy (TCLL) Program. Onions, radishes, carrots, kale, cabbage, currants, garlic and other vegetables are bordered by lilacs, delphinium, iris, and arctic kiwis for an attractive mixture of vegetation. Many herbaceous peonies were planted as trials in the Veggie Garden and have successfully established themselves despite living in a rainforest.

5 - The Word Garden

The Word Garden was created in 2017 on the arboretum’s 10th anniversary. Beautiful trees, purple poppies, black iris, and a glass art installation draw visitors to relax on the bench for a while. People of all ages are inspired to use their creativity to arrange the rocks into all kinds of messages. Poetic phrases in English, Lingit, Tagalog, and Spanish are constantly evolving and are fun to read. One whimsical and momentous declaration resulted in a happy couple’s engagement. The glass house adjoining the Word Garden is used to over winter plants in the ground.

7 - Chilkats View Shelter

This area encompasses rich shady beds. On the beach side under Sitka spruce, shade-loving primula grow along with hosta and brunnera. A long bed leading to the shelter features two mature Kastura trees, delphinium, ligularia, interesting primroses, and other plants that thrive in a shady environment. Look for the stone feature honoring Merrill Jensen, the first manager of the Jensen-Olson Arboretum.  Arriving at the southern end of the garden brings visitors to the Chilkats View Shelter which was constructed in 2016. The leaded glass artwork was added in 2022 after winning first place in the arboretum’s first art exhibition. Bricks purchased in support of the arboretum lead to the beach.

8 - Irma’s Landing

Irma’s Landing describes the area between the Chilkats View Shelter and the garage. Along the forest border another bench offers opportunities to relax and savor the garden.  A multitude of primula bloom in a variety of colors. Trollius, lilies, and other perennials rotate through the summer ending with a grand gold stand of northern goldenrod. The maple trees are lovely year-round, but stunning in the fall.

9 - Birch Lane

A wealth of perennials and trees grace the area between the manager’s residence and the garage.  Two interesting birch, Himalayan white and an Icelandic, stand over spring blooming primula, Astrantia, Tibetan rhubarb, and late blooming turtlehead. The clematis is a summer favorite, and colorful foliage dresses the area during the fall.  Behind the garage, the potting shed provides arboretum staff and their volunteers a valuable workspace.

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