The South Seattle College Arboretum was established by the College and the South Seattle College Foundation in 1978, in part as the result of a petition by the Landscape Horticulture Program students for an arboretum to serve as their living laboratory. The 5-acre site is located at the north end of campus on a bluff over looking the downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay and the West Duwamish Greenbelt. The Seattle Chinese Garden borders the Arboretum.
The Arboretum is an important part of the South Seattle College Landscape Horticulture Program. As part of their studies, students designed and built the Arboretum. It is used as a laboratory for courses in plant identification, arboriculture, pruning, irrigation, garden renovation, plant problem diagnostics, landscape management and landscape construction courses. The Arboretum is also used as an outdoor classroom by professional horticulturists, hobby gardeners and other college programs. Most of the plants on the Washington Certified Professional Horticulturist exam can be found in the South Seattle College Arboretum.
- To provide an outdoor laboratory for landscape students
- To provide an outdoor classroom for the entire college
- To provide a garden sanctuary for the community-at-large
- In 2014, the Arboretum was designated an American Conifer Society Reference Garden because it contains one of the best collections of conifers in the United States.
- The Arboretum became a National Wildlife Federation Urban Wildlife Sanctuary in 2012
- The Coenosium Rock Garden was inducted into the Gardens for Peace program in 2010
- The Landscape Horticulture facilities, including the Arboretum, were awarded a “5-star” Environstar rating in 2010
- The Arboretum has been “pesticide-free” since 2008
- Articles about the Arboretum have appeared in the Seattle Times, The News Tribune, Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin, Conifer Quarterly, and Crosscut.