Manito Park

I had the good fortune and sense to take the former director of Manito Park WITH ME on Mrs. Toad’s Wild Ride to North Idaho/Eastern Washington. Along with the background of the park, I got the personal and passionate story of the gardens and the plants as told by my pal, John P. Dodson, horticulturalist and teacher extraordinaire. OK, he’s one of my most beloved mentors.

The wealthy and well-traveled founding fathers of Spokane had the foresight to pony up $1MM in the early 1900’s AND put a note in the city files that it would ALWAYS support the city park system. Then, the went out and hired the Olmstead family of landscape architects to design the city’s parks. THEN, they stole a famous Mr. John Duncan from Boston and brought him out to work his magic……particularly at Manito Park.

Manito is unique in that it has a conservatory, a Renaissance style formal garden, a Japanese garden, perennial beds, lilac garden, a rose garden, a woodland, annual bedding areas, etc……….all in one 90 acre park. Other northwest cities have a a Japanese garden in one part of town, glorious perennial beds in another part, a conservatory elsewhere, and so on.

The day we were at Manito, it had been raining for a while, we strolled through the mist and marveled at the incredible flower show at hand. The centaurea montana (bachelors buttons) were so blue they almost made your eyes hurt. The rain had turned all the rockwork (local stone gathered and used for constructing the offices/storage buildings/sheds/bridges) a rich dark brown setting off the green of the foliage and the colors of the flowers in perfect color harmony.