backyard travels: the walker rock garden

When we moved west, a friend gave us a Seattle guidebook including unusual spots, among them the Walker Rock Garden. Beginning in 1959, Boeing mechanic Milton Walker and his wife Florence built the Gaudi-like garden of sculpture in rocks, geodes, and colored glass in the backyard of their small home. Imagine our surprise when we were taking a walk one night and realized the Walker Rock Garden is three blocks from where we live, located behind an unremarkable (and a little run down) house. Yesterday, we finally went for a visit.

From the street, you can see the spire of the colorful 18-foot bell tower and a portion of the miniature “Alps.” But once inside the yard, it’s truly amazing — a hill drops down to an incredible display that includes a paved seating area with a fireplace, fountains made with chunks of colored glass and petrified wood, and countless mosaic butterflies adorning walls and stepping stones.

The entire garden took the Walkers 20 years to build. (Makes me feel a little bit better about the projects we’re working on this year.) The garden is still privately owned, so it’s not a perfectly maintained museum — the fountains weren’t on, the ponds are being scrubbed for repainting, and the plantings seem a little overgrown. But the spirit of incredible outsider art remains intact. This is one place we’ll definitely come back and see again. Are there any odd gems in your neighborhood? –Mary T.

The Walker Rock Garden is located at 5407 37th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA, and is open to the public the second, third, and fourth Sundays of the month during June, July, and August. Admission is free. Learn more here.
Click for more photos!

Part of the “Alps” — the tops are painted white.

Detail of the tower — those are red succulents growing among the blue glass.

The floor of the outdoor eating area.

Fountain rocks.

The top of the tower.

Spelled out in white rocks: “Greetings — we wish you well.” I love this place.

From our partners
Tiffany S.

My eyes are bugging out of my head in a good way!

We have been meaning to get there *forever,* thanks for the reminder, it looks amazing.


Wow! Thanks for the heads up. This place is amazing. I can’t wait for Sunday! I can’t believe this place is in my own backyard!


Vootie! I was all set to go today after b’fast until I saw the “Sundays only” tag. Well, next weekend I guess…

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