An outstanding example of Pacific Northwest modernist garden style, Chase Garden is a 4.5-acre garden that artfully combines Japanese and midcentury design with the naturalistic look of a Pacific Northwest woodland landscape. Located in Orting, WA, the garden sits on a bluff overlooking the grand vista of the Puyallup River Valley, forested Cascade foothills, and an unforgettable view of Mount Rainier. Over more than forty years, starting in the 1960s, Emmott and Ione Chase built a creative interpretation of the natural landscape, with drifts of rock garden plants inspired by Mount Rainier's wildflower fields.
Since 1994, the Garden Conservancy has worked in partnership, first with the Chases and later with many dedicated volunteers and staff, to preserve this important garden. Over many years we have helped to share the garden with the public, and when the garden was bequeathed to the Garden Conservancy in 2010, we continued our efforts to foster a locally managed public garden. After efforts to find a local organization to operate the garden were not fruitful, the property was purchased by passionate local gardeners, in 2018. Although now privately owned, the Garden Conservancy has ensured that its unique beauty will be protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement and the garden will be open to the public at least twice a year, as required by the easement.
The Garden Conservancy continues to monitor the conservation easement annually, which we expanded in 2017 to provide greater protection for the garden. We have also completed a maintenance plan that captures the Chases' philosophy and approach to caring for the garden, and have undertaken a comprehensive documentation of the garden and its history.
The Chase Garden is purchased by local gardeners who are passionate about the garden and committed to preserving the legacy of Ione and Emmott Chase. As per the conservation easement, the garden will be open to the public at least twice annually.
The Garden Conservancy works to expand and strengthen the conservation easement on the property and begins to document the garden. After many years of exploring parternships with local organizations to create a sustainable model for ownership and management of the garden, the Garden Conservancy closes the garden for regular, public visitation as of June 30, and puts Chase Garden up for sale.
The Garden Conservancy hosts a Society of Fellows garden-study tour with a program led by noted garden writer and lecturer Steve Lorton and holds a fundraiser and wine-tasting with Seattle-area garden personality Ciscoe Morris. Chase Garden is featured in Pacific Horticulture magazine and the Garden Collage blog.
First garden director is appointed, new highway directional signs and billboards are erected, a new cedar shake roof is installed, and new visitor programs are introduced.
New summer garden and fern border are planted. The garden serves as a meeting venue for the Garden Conservancy Northwest Network workshop.
Emmott Chase passes away at the age of 99. As per the wishes of Ione and Emmott Chase, their garden becomes a public garden, owned and managed by the Garden Conservancy.
Chase Garden opens to the public on a regular basis.
Ione Chase passes away at the age of 97.
The Handbook of Garden Beds is completed, including descriptions of the design and garden maintenance practices.
The garden is featured in a New York Times article, which describes the garden's gentle curves as seeming to "soar off the edge of a cliff and across the valley to Mount Rainier, 14 miles away."
Caroline Eells, a Marco Polo Stufano Garden Conservancy Fellow, assists Ione Chase in maintaining the garden.
A garden preservation strategy is developed and a feasibility study for the physical development of the Chase Garden as a public garden is completed.
A friends group is established to promote visitation and public support for the garden. The Garden Conservancy manages the garden and employs garden staff.
The Chase Garden becomes a preservation project of the Garden Conservancy, which accepts a conservation easement on the site, protecting the scenic and conservation values of the landscape in perpetuity.
Landscape architect Rex Zumwalt completes his design for the garden and Emmott and Ione Chase begin their life work developing and maintaining what would become one of the finest examples of gardens in the Pacific Northwest style. They construct all the hard-surface design elements in Zumwalt's plan, even mixing the concrete themselves; they compost brush, and plant over 1000 Noble firs, pine trees, a wide variety of shrubs, seeds and plants from friends and fellow garden lovers, and perennials and rock garden plants in drifts.
The Chases move onto the property into a new home designed by architect/craftsman K. Walter Johnson. The Chases do all of the finish work themselves after the foundations are poured and the walls constructed.
After clearing land and selling some acreage, the actual parcel size for the future house and garden is settled at 4.5 acres.
Ione and Emmott Chase purchase 12 acres of woodland in the foothills outside the town of Orting, Washington, near where they had both grown up.
Since 1994, the Garden Conservancy has worked to preserve Emmott and Ione’s vision and create a sustainable future for Chase Garden. Some of our efforts to date include:
Accepting a conservation easement to protect the property
Helping to establish a friends group
Funding a preservation strategy and feasibility study
Funding garden staff salaries and a horticultural internship
Securing grants to enhance and expand the garden’s season
Funding a new roof for the residence
Providing organizational support for the garden’s operation
Raising visibility and helping to create compelling programming
Undertaking a comprehensive documentation of the garden and its history
Documenting the Chase Garden
Click here to read a few highlights from the Chase Garden archives, shown above being sorted and organized by archivist Chloe Kadel
Read a profile of Chase Garden, from Northwest Travel & Life magazine, May/June 2017