DES receives international accreditation for Capitol Campus Arboretum

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Sunken Garden entrance looking East
The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program has recognized the Washington State Capitol Campus Arboretum with international accreditation for providing a place for relaxation, education and beauty for people who visit and work on the Capitol Campus.

ArbNet is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards.

The 485-acre campus features a collection of trees representing 75 different genera or types of trees as well as a sunken annual and perennial flower garden, a pollinator garden and a variety of Victorian-themed seasonal plantings.

Olmsted design

The historic grounds were designed by the famous Olmsted Brothers in the 1920s. The Olmsteds recognized the value and importance of displaying native and site adaptable trees in this public landscape. Today, a 55-acre portion of the West Capitol Campus is designated a National Historic District. In 2022, the Professional Grounds Management Society recognized the Department of Enterprise Services Buildings and Grounds division with the National Honor Award for Olmsted Properties for the care and custody of the Olmsted landscape over nearly a century.

"The accreditation of the Capital Campus as an arboretum will allow DES to work toward achieving higher levels of professional tree care standards, developing and sharing more information about this cultural landscape, both virtually and in-person, and serving as a model for urban forestry," said Capitol Campus Horticulturist and Grounds Property Manager Brent Chapman.

Notable trees on the campus include:

  • The national champion English oak
  • A Douglas fir grown from a seed that went to the moon and back on an Apollo space mission in 1971
  • A Japanese cryptomeria that represents the State of Washington’s relationship with its sister state, Hyogo, Japan
  • A grove of Yoshino cherry trees that were a gift from Yoshino, Japan, in 1984

The Capitol Campus also serves as a model for urban forestry principles. Visitors can see how proactive planning and utilization of best management practices impact the present and future vitality of an urban forest ecosystem.

In 2021, the Capitol’s grounds team completed the planting of 100 new trees to recognize the 100th anniversary of the National Association of State Foresters. One hundred more were planted in 2022. DES’ goal is to have each type of tree that can grow in Olympia represented in the capitol arboretum.

Visit the Capitol Campus

The arboretum is open to visitors every day of the year. Botanical tours are available to individuals or groups of up to 25 people. To schedule a tour, email Brent Chapman or call (360) 972-0753.