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University of Washington Botanic Gardens


Washington Park Arboretum
Center for Urban Horticulture

McVay Courtyard

Images of McVay courtyard

McVay Courtyard garden is located in the middle of the Center for Urban Horticulture, providing easy access into and among the surrounding buildings.

McVay Courtyard Renovation

Starting in November 2012, the first of several phases will begin to renovate the McVay Courtyard. The maples (Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'), the sheared Delavay Tea Olive (Osmanthus delavayi), and the existing hardscape will remain, but other plants will be replaced with new woody shrubs and an assortment of unusual bulbs and groundcovers for year-round interest.


The restricted plant pallete emphasizes grasses and plants with grass-like foliage. This common characteristic unites the design while allowing different leaf shapes, colors, and textues to provide subtle variety. Restricting the range of plants also makes for a distinctly different design that encourages people to notice and observe the details.


The courtyard contains two concrete bands which flow from the east entrance to the main entrance doors of Merrill Hall. Small stones and textured marks that represent flow and riffles are embedded in the concrete. This pattern suggests the flow of horticultural knowledge through and out of UW Botanic Gardens. Rocks and plant beds separate the central seating area from the main gathering space in front of the conference hall and from the circulation path around the perimeter of the space.

The aesthetic goals of this garden were that it be visually attractive from all views, demonstrate an intergration of the buildings and the landscape, and use plants in a way that is pleasing.

The courtyard was built with funding from a gift from Mrs. John P. McVay.

Last modified:
Thursday, 29-Jan-2015 16:16:34 PST