Docent Program

Each year as tour season begins at Dunn Gardens a number of meetings around garden-related topics are scheduled. These are set up to educate our dedicated group of docents and volunteers. Docents serve as our 'ambassadors', leading groups of visitors through the gardens and interpreting its historic legacy.  Volunteers lend an invaluable hand in myriad other ways. This energetic, well-informed group attends workshops, tours area gardens, acquires a detailed familiarity with the sophisticated plant palette in the Dunn Gardens and shares that knowledge.

Please let us know if you are interested in our docent Program or would like to volunteer in the gardens.

Sign up to be a docent!

For more information, please contact us.


Picture: Garden of Dunn Gardens' Docent, John Longres. 


Docent Program Details

  • Training: Spring Orientation with meetings on periodic Tuesdays 10am-12pm through Tour Season (April~Oct., closed Aug.)
  • Study guide: Dunn Gardens Notebook
  • Commitment: Lead 6 garden tours a year
  • Benefits:
    • Plant Identification classes with our curators Charles Price & Glenn Withey
    • Field trips to private and public gardens
    • Lectures by noted local horticultural experts
    • Enjoyable camaraderie while learning NW history, Olmsted design, and rare plants in a beautiful setting


DOCENT PROGRAM: 2018 will soon be announced. In the meantime here is the 2017 program so you can get an idea of what is on offer.

March 7      First meeting:  (orientation, greeting new members, old members, assignment of mentor and mentee, exploring the calendar)

March 21   Plant ID Walks: Dress warmly for a walk about in the Gardens in small groups, each group led by a guest expert. Docents will relearn plant names and focus on plants and features that prompt visitor questions.  Bring your plant list.

April 4       Docent Meeting: Speaker Laura Watson on Clematis  With more than 100 clematis in her small north Seattle garden, Laura Watson is a certified "clemaniac." She will share with the docents her enthusiasm and explain how to choose a clematis, how to plant it, which clematis are easiest to grow and which do well in small gardens and containers.

April 6       Tour season starts

April 18     Docent Field Trip:  Streissguth Gardens  Developed gradually over more than forty years, this city garden has grown from a tangled hillside to approximately one acre of cultivated woodland and perennial beds. 

May 2         Docent Field Trip:  Bloedel Reserve  Docents will travel to Bainbridge Island for a tour of the Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre forest garden made by the vice-chairman of a lumber company, under the influence of the conservation movement and Asian philosophy. Ferry and carpooling arrangements pending. 

May 16      Docent meeting: Speaker Christine Ranegger on Bees. A  member of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association and experienced beekeeper, Christine Ranegger will introduce several different kinds of bees that are important pollinators.

May 30      Docent Field Trip: Volunteer Park Tree Walk  Our own Tree Ambassador, Penny Kriese, will guide us around this Olmsted park and share her arboreal expertise. 

June 3       Docents will be asked to be on hand to answer questions about the garden but no formal tours are offered.

June 13     Docent Meeting: Speaker Bob Findlay on Olmsted Kinesthetics   Our own archivist extraordinair will call upon kinesthesis, the inward-oriented sense that heightens our awareness of place, to help us understand how Olmsted design principles make Dunn Gardens a place of calm serenity.

June 27     Docent Field Trip: Private Garden of Designer Staci Crooks  Docents will look at a private home garden of a former docent coordinator who is a successful garden designer.

July 11      Docent Meeting: Orla Concannon on Garden Therapy   Our guest will tell us how the healing power of horticulture is put into practice working with the elderly in nursing homes. Ms. Cannon earner her Healthcare MBA from Seattle University. She now runs a business called Eldergrow.

July 26       Docent Field Trip: Walt Janacek's Dahlia Garden    Janacek, presiden of the Puget Sound Dahlia Society, not only has a stunning collection of dahlia's, some of which he has hybridized himself in his Woodinville garden, but he has some interesting garden structures and growing methods. 

August:    Garden is closed for tours 

Sept.  2     Open Saturday   Docents will be asked to be on hand to answer questions about the garden but no formal tours are offered.

Sept. 13     Docent Meeting: Learn and Share  Prepare for th emeeting by learning something about more than one plant in the garden and then share that knowledge with the group.

Sept. 26     Docent Field Trip: Seattle Japanese Garden   Fall color will be coming through in time for a guided tour of this local gem at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Sept. 30   Open Saturday  Docents will be asked to be on hand to answer questions about the garden but no formal tours are offered.  

Oct. 3        TBA

Oct. 17     Docent and Volunteer Thank You Luncheon