Skagit County Master Gardener Foundation

Cultivating plants, people and communities since 1977

Skagit County
WSU Extension
Master Gardener
Discovery Garden

Free Admission

Open to the public from dawn to dusk daily

Signage throughout the garden introduces and explains the plantings and growing techniques used.  Master Gardeners work in the garden on Tuesdays.  Stop by and learn about gardening.

Explore our themed garden rooms and discover your personal retreat


WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center
16650 State Route 536
(Memorial Hwy)
Mount Vernon, WA  98273

The garden is located adjacent to the Salal Native Plant Garden and Western Washington Fruit Research Foundation orchard.

Our Garden

The Discovery Garden is maintained by Skagit County WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers as a demonstration garden for the public. Our vision is to:
- Interest, inspire and educate the public
- Develop a garden for community use and enjoyment
- Enhance the quality of the environment of Skagit County


In 1994, the WSU Skagit County Master Gardeners had a vision for a Demonstration Garden. It took two years to plan the garden, then in the fall of 1996, the first structure trees and fences were established. Over the following two years, with the help of many committed WSU Master Gardeners and the community, the garden was planted.

One of the garden founders, Julie Hubner, said that having people with ideas and letting them run was the most important part of designing. She said having people, encouraging people to make decisions, allowing people to make decisions, and loving people who make those decisions were essential to a project. In the beginning there were 15 people working the vision of the WSU Skagit County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden - The Discovery Garden. From a blank 1.5 acre field, 13 garden rooms were carved out. Now there are over 30 garden rooms.

The Pavilion

Master Gardener Tuesday workday lunches are held in this sheltered gathering place. The pavilion is also used for public educational activities, seminars and workshops.  Reserve it (printable or fill-able form).

The Paths

When you visit the Discovery Gardens, you will benefit from new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible paths winding the way through splendid examples of Pacific Northwest gardening.

Our 30 Garden Rooms

Pollinator Garden

The Pollinator Garden is planted with an assortment of both native and non-native shrubs and perennials. Plants chosen are known to be nectar and pollen sources for diversity of pollinators. 

Japanese Garden

Japanese gardens use odd numbers of plants and stones spaced unevenly. Dry rock beds symbolize rushing rivers; large rocks represent mountains. Water features are an integral part of Japanese gardens.

Easy Care Garden

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Once their root systems are well established, plants in this garden require little maintenance and minimal watering. In the fall, we clean and mulch to add nutrients and keep weeds down. In the spring, a bit of weeding is needed, but by summer, the foliage is so dense that very few weeds appear.

Four Seasons Garden

Year-round interest with minimal care are key to maintaining this diverse mixed border garden. A rail fence, trees and shrubs form a backdrop for perennials, vines and biennials punctuated by running ground covers. Annuals and bulbs add a pop of seasonal color. Evergreens and foundation specimens anchor the garden’s silhouette.

Fall and Winter Garden

Featured here are plants that perform from September to March. Fall-blooming perennials, bright berries and brilliant foliage give way to bare branches and beautiful bark. Evergreen foliage, winter blooms and early bulbs make way for the onset of spring.

Doc's Arbor

Dr. Richard Hoag (“Doc”) was one of a small group of WSU Master Gardeners who had the vision to start this garden. Before Doc passed away, he and his wife gave the first “seed” money donation. This arbor is created in his memory. Doc grew grapes and made many different kinds of wine.

Ornamental Grasses

Grasses mingle well with perennials and shrubs. These selected varieties offer screening, provide texture or create a relaxing atmosphere. Grasses for different growing conditions provide many options to consider.

Rose Garden

Master Gardeners assumed care of this garden from the local rose society in spring 2006. The garden, also the site of the Skagit County WWI monument, is currently being renovated and re-designed.

Rhododendron Garden

Begun in 2007, this garden is designed to provide a harmonious space to view the wide variety of rhododendrons that can be grown in the Pacific Northwest climate.

Heather Garden

With year-round interest, something is in bloom every month in this garden. These varieties show growth patterns from ground covers to tree forms.

Iris Garden

The iris plantings display different species and their bloom cycles from early spring throughout the winter. Rocks create “rooms” for companion plantings that provide interest while the irises are resting.

Ground Covers

Ground covers can be used to smother weeds, fill in areas under trees, stabilize hillsides, soften the edges of pathways and reduce evaporation. Showcased here are commonly available shade- and sun-tolerant plants.

Succulent Garden

Available in a wide variety of textures, shapes, sizes and colors, succulents are drought tolerant and easy to propagate.  They are low-maintenance plants requiring well-drained soil and full sun for optimal growth.  Hens and chicks, sedums and stonecrops are easy to grow and are hardy in this area.

School Education (DIG-IT)

Master gardeners host day-long field trips for Skagit County 2nd and 3rd graders. DIG-IT, one of six activities during the day, gives students hands-on gardening experience in the style of the Three Sisters garden—beans, corn and squash—a planting technique used by native cultures.


Magic happens here! Throughout the growing season, the sorted and chipped prunings, browns and greens are com­bined and turned. Mother Nature does her part and gives us nutrient-rich compost in a year.

Small Fruits

Berries, Berries, Berries! Exhibited here are Heritage, Willamette and Blackcap raspberries along with three types of strawberries. Thornless boysenberries, triple crown blackberries, black and clove currants and rhubarb round out the other small fruits.

Cottage Garden

This somewhat whimsical garden dates back to the 1300s when space was limited around each home. Ornamental and edible varieties were commonly planted together to maximize every available inch.

Fuchsia Garden

Originally planted by members of the North Cascade Fuchsia Society, all the varieties in this garden are hardy enough to survive Skagit County winters. Even in the shade of the pavilion, the garden blooms in beautiful colors from early summer until frost.

Vegetable Garden

Raised, no-till garden beds and easy access pathways are featured in this garden. Old favorites and new varieties are showcased in a home-style garden fit for our Pacific Northwest maritime climate. Techniques demonstrate maximizing micro-climates within the space, show various trellising styles and produce a wide range of vegetables and flowers in an attractive setting.

Herb Garden

Skagit Valley’s climate is perfect for herbs. The typical English herb garden’s structure, history, purpose and order have been interpreted for Northwest living. Different hedging materials surround the formal design creating a room-like feel with themed gardens informally planted within.

Children's Garden

In this garden, parents and children share the pleasure of gardening and find ideas for their own yards. The entry through a weeping mulberry is a perfect place to play hide-and-seek. Visitors enjoy a snack with Alice and the Queen of Hearts at the picnic table. A game of checkers, a splash in the water, or helming the boat are all possible. Kids of all sizes can exchange a book at the Children’s Garden Lending Library.

Plant House


This is where master gardeners propagate and nurture perennial plants throughout the year for the Plant Fair each May.


Master gardeners start seeds and take cuttings for new plants that are used in the Discovery Garden or sold at the Plant Fair. Public classes on plant propagation and seed starting are also held here.


The Meadow is an open area designed with year-round interest, low-maintenance, and large space design in mind. The garden incorporates both ornamental grasses and native plants to create visual interest in an otherwise lackluster space.


This informal garden room features meandering footpaths bordered by native and non-native plantings.  Stroll the paths and contemplate the variety of ecosystems represented by the sunny meadow, the pond, and the shady corner.  Be inspired to design your garden as a personal green space isolated from adjacent buildings and traffic. 

Enabling Garden

The six raised beds and ergonomic tool display illustrate ways to garden for those with limited strength, energy and physical ability. Scented, colorful, textured plants are featured in the raised beds, some of which offer sitting ledges.

Joe's Place

The large anchor at the entrance is in memory of Navy veteran, Joe Dupré, an early graduate of the Master Gardener Program. Some of Joe’s favorite plantings reside here—primroses, fuchsias, fig tree and ferns.

WWI Elm Tree Memorial

WWI Memorial Marker (Back) in Rose Garden

State Route 536 in Mount Vernon, Washington was designated Memorial Highway in 1931 in memory of fifty men from Skagit County who died during WWI.