Spokane is very different from Vancouver where Ruth & I live. Vancouver winters are very Northwest. Dark and unchanging, winter days in our town are very much alike. Spokane is much more like the Midwest. There is far more variation in its seasons. Washington’s 2nd largest city has close to 230,000 people, and I love the approach to it any time of year. Once there it is like any big city. About 100 miles from it, however, trees begin to appear after miles and miles of fertile farmland that speaks of nothingness. You sense that something dramatic is about to happen and you are right. The landscape changes to include many more trees, and by the time you’re in town they are far more abundant with lots of deciduous examples among them, meaning trees that shed their leaves seasonally. It gets far colder here during the winter months, and by the time you get to Idaho and Coeur d’ Alene there are even more changes in the landscape and a great big lake to enjoy. Spokane, like a Midwestern city, has distinct seasons with lots of golds and reds.
When we visited this time it was still garden time. Manito Park was still being enjoyed by residents and visitors like us. Ruth judged the rose garden there to be far more impressive than Portland’s. Most of the bushes we saw were still loaded with vivid blooms and the sun still shone magnificently on them. This park has 5 themed gardens and it’s a magnet for Spokane’s residents and people who like formal gardens.
We arrived late in the day and only had time for roses and the Japanese garden near them. The Nishinomiya Tsutakawa, named for Spokane’a sister city, was resplendent with waterfalls, a picture-perfect bridge, a koi pond, ducks, and lots of sculptures. It was a decent rival to anything in Portland. Ruth wanted to see the dahlias but it was too late in the day for them, and Ruth assured me that they would still be tests varieties that are new, small, and unimpressive, They would not be a match for the magnificent dahlias that she has grown and are much admired by passersby. The other gardens at Manito, which has 98 acres to explore, were the Duncan and The Gaiser Conservatory, which offers tropical wonders. The directions to both by a gardener we stopped for advice were confusing, and it got later and later.
This is one magnificent park and it’s much used and admired by Spokane citizens year round, but wait until next summer to see it but do eventually.
Manito Park is 90 acres huge. There is no admission charge to see it. We were stymied, however, by our inability to understand the gardener’s directions to the dahlia test garden that Ruth wanted to see run by the Dahlia Society and one of their 8 test gardens. We could find the Joel Ferris Perennial Garden but not the dahlias that Ruth likes to grow. Summer and early fall are the best times to see these flowers that are native to Mexico and it was still summer when we were there. Dahlias, as it turned out, were close to the rose garden and rose hill in the middle of this park; but we did not know. We will know the next time where to look. I hope to visit Manito next spring when its lilac garden is in bloom.