The Formal Garden
The English Formal Garden is one of the more beloved features of San Juan Island National Historical Park, generating enthusiastic comments from visitors from around the world — but especially from the United Kingdom.
The garden you see before you today was planted on almost exactly the same spot in 1972 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the boundary settlement. As with Louden’s concept, this garden is a combination of art, logic and science, the geometric design featuring 13 beds of flowers and shrubs in a circular pattern.
Today the garden is maintained by the park’s maintenance division with the help of volunteers from the community. Each spring more than 700 annuals are planted among the hedges providing visitors with spectacular views by mid-summer.
In 1999, with funds provided through the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, the park installed a gravity-fed, water-efficient irrigation system in the garden. (In the past, when water tables went down, the park would dip into the cisterns built by the Royal Marines to keep the garden going.) The new irrigation system has reduced hand-watering by nearly 70 percent enabling volunteers to manage the garden. This has freed park staff to work on other maintenance projects, and ensured visitor enjoyment of the garden throughout the summer.