Harmony in the Garden Blog

Chihuly Garden and Glass in Winter

chihuly garden

Today I’m excited to share with you the beauty of the Chihuly Garden and Glass in winter.

It’s been a whopper of a winter, and while I’m not complaining,  I must say, I’m feeling pretty starved for garden tours right now.  

Name a gardener that isn’t feeling this way, right?  But finding a garden that’s glorious in the winter is no easy feat! 

For those who aren’t familiar with this artist, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibition hall with several gallery spaces showcasing the work of world-renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly. 

In addition to the gallery, is a massive glass house conservatory which leads to a lush garden, where Dale’s art mingles with innovative plant groupings.

In my opinion, there’s something pretty magical about a winter garden done right.

It’s pretty easy to have a beautiful spring or summer garden, but winter is a whole different story. 

Let’s get on with the tour!



When you first arrive, you’re led through different galleries within the museum, to ooh and aah over the unbelievable glass art installations. 

And while I certainly appreciate the impressive glass creations, I’ll be honest – it was the word ‘Garden’ that drew me here in the first place.

After seeing how amazing his art was, I couldn’t wait to get outside to the garden.


Chihuly Garden
Chihuly Garden and Glass Winter Garden

To enter the garden, you first pass through this jaw-dropping 40-foot tall glasshouse, created as a  homage to his lifelong love of conservatories. 

Just outside of the glass walls are tantalizing views of the garden you’re about to visit. 

I can’t think of a more fabulous way to transition from the museum to the garden!

Chihuly Garden and Glass Winter Garden

While many of the plants were either deciduous or flat out nowhere to be seen (busy sleeping underground) Chihuly’s glass art brings this garden to LIFE. 

This is a smaller garden, with a central path that meanders through beds anchored by several oversized and impressive art sculptures.

The winter season is traditionally a time to highlight subtle nuances that are often overlooked during spring and summer’s riot of color, texture, and scent.

But in this garden, there’s no such thing as subtle.  Yet, at the same time, there is!

chihuly glass-chihuly museum-seattle-garden glass art


Without the distraction of the plants, the emphasis is, of course, on the glass art.

However slow down a bit, and you’ll begin to notice the strategic placement of garden within the garden beds.

You’ll see various echoes of color, texture, and form begin to emerge.

For example, in the bed below, see how the orange glass is perfectly placed to highlight the orange tones of the deciduous Paperbark Maples?

Look again, and you’ll notice the contrast as well, with the smooth glass intermingling with the peeling textures of the bark.

The moody black color of the mondo grass, below, is echoed with the black sculptures nestled nearby.

chihuly glass-chihuly museum-seattle-garden glass art


Take a look at the repetition and contrast happening in this bed. 

The very vertical (and very red!) glass spires beautifully echo the upright shape of the yellow branches of the dogwood.

Yet the red glass provides plenty of contrast to the yellow branches, helping to add a jolt of excitement to this bed.  

I love this installation of vibrant purple glass, entitled Neodymium Reeds, the best of all.   The purple positively glows in the shady corners of this bed, helping to bring attention to the sculptural quality of the 500-year old Western cedar log. 

chihuly glass-chihuly museum-seattle-garden glass art


And the cool, smoothness of the glass contrasts beautifully with the prickly texture of the mahonia that surrounds it.  

I can only imagine what this looks like in the spring and summer, with hints of purple flowers planted throughout.   

Repetition and contrast, repetition and contrast –  the key to a breathtaking garden bed.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Of course, sometimes you want the art to stand out on its own as a focal point with no distractions of all.

Perfectly balanced on a bed of black mondo grass, with the red branches of the Japanese maple beyond, there’s no mistaking this glowing yellow orb, is there? 

Or, the towering chartreuse and red ‘trees’ (below) which seem to dare you to walk by without noticing them. 

Visiting a garden on a cold, drizzly winter day might seem to some, a less than exciting adventure. 

But when the garden has this much thought and creativity running throughout, it can be a most exciting and memorable event!

Chihuly Garden and Glass in Winter
Chihuly Garden and Glass Winter Garden

For more fabulous winter gardens to visit, you might enjoy these past articles: San Francisco’s Japanese Tea GardenWashington Park Arboretum Seattle’s Kubota Garden | Woodside’s Filoli Garden

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  • Rebecca, it is a treat to see your name in my email and to anticipate opening your post. It is always so interesting and beautifully presented. Thank you for taking the time to do this for your caring followers. You have been through some difficult times and so I especially appreciate reading your new articles.

    • Thank you for such a sweet comment, Marilee, I really appreciate it. I really do love sharing my blog with everyone and am so happy you enjoy it. Have a beautiful weekend!

  • What a fun place to visit! Several years ago my husband and I visited Chihuly’s museum in Tacoma and really enjoyed it. I didn’t know about his museum in Seattle or about the gardens and I hope that we can visit them soon. I would also love to go to the Seattle Landscape show. It’s such a shame that the former SF Landscape Garden show has all but died. It was always fascinating to see how people could create amazing gardens and outdoor spaces from a blank slate; it was always fun and inspiring. Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Ronnie, and couldn’t agree with you more about the SF show. Seattle’s show is fantastic and I really hope you can go to it next year and squeeze in a visit to the Chihuly garden. I didn’t realize there was one in Tacoma – isn’t he incredible?

  • I love Chihuly’s glass. The garden is a perfect setting for his pieces.

    • I agree, Linda – it’s an incredible setting. I hope to see it in different seasons some day.


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