History

Botanical garden in Kitsap county

The history of this botanical garden in Kitsap County starts in 1998.

In the summer of that year, John Albers and his wife Santica Marcovina, both Research Professors of Medicine at the University of Washington, were touring the Olympic Peninsula and fell in love with a house overlooking the Port Washington Narrows in East Bremerton. Santica was attracted by the house nested on a hillside with a backdrop of a native madrona and maple woodland while John’s major interest was in the two acres of lawn punctuated by old fruit trees remaining from what was originally an orchard.

The house was for sale and John and Santica immediately made an offer and after a few months moved from West Seattle to their new location. While Santica was busy in making the house their home, John, an avid gardener, started his plans of transforming the lawn into a garden.

Taking advantage of the beautiful Southwest facing slope framed to the west by the Olympic Mountains, John laid out paths of granite stepping stones or Canadian granite dust, without changing the topography, to define the distinct garden areas he had in mind. Different varieties of conifers were first planted in strategic locations to provide backbone and structure to the garden and then trees, shrubs and perennials were integrated.

After a few years while the botanical garden in Kitsap County was taking shape, two more acres adjacent to the original property were acquired. As the new property was overrun with Himalayan blackberries and Scotch Broom, the first arduous task was to remove these highly invasive plants and restore with native plants supplemented with non-native plants carefully selected to be adapted to the climatic and soil conditions of the area and thereby creating a sustainable landscape. More recently, John has built a gazebo and designed a large rose garden on the upper portion of the property with a view of Mount Rainier to the Southeast while Santica has integrated landscape art in strategic locations throughout this botanical garden in Kitsap County.

The gardens are now formed by 15 different garden areas, each with its distinct theme, and contain over a thousand aesthetically arranged different species and cultivars that provide four season color and interest. In 2007, the non-profit foundation, The Albers Vista Gardens Foundation of Kitsap, was established to preserve for the generations to come this botanical oasis as a loving tribute to John’s wife Santica who throughout the years has been his source of inspiration for the creation of this garden.

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