Heronswood Gardens — the 15-acre, world-class private botanical garden near Kingston, Wash. that was founded by Dan Hinkley and Robert Jones — has a new owner. W. Atlee Burpee & Co. sold the garden at a sealed-bid auction June 15 to the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, which has a 1,200-acre reservation close by. No price was disclosed. The auction, conducted by Sheldon Good & Company, had a $749,000 minimum bid. The sale was expected to close in July.
According to George Ball, chairman of Burpee, the purchasers will maintain and preserve Heronswood. “The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe has agreed both to preserve the historic gardens, and to use the facilities to educate their members, as well as the public, about native plants,” Ball said. “We hope to assist it in carrying out its mission with support from the Burpee Foundation, since it is entirely consistent with the work we are currently involved in throughout the nation.”
Burpee had purchased the estate from Jones and Hinkley in 2000. Burpee operated a nursery on the site for a time, but closed it in 2006. The company initially offered the property for sale at $11 million, and more recently at $1.8 million. The property includes three residences as well as greenhouse facilities, and was considered a Mecca for Northwest gardeners.
“Heronswood represents the pride and hard work of this community, and we’re happy we’re able to play a role in its future,” said Jeromy Sullivan, Chairman of Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. “We understand how passionate people are about Heronswood and, as a neighbor, we are committed to maintaining this local treasure. We look forward to gaining insight and expertise from the previous owners as well as working with the community to help shape Heronswood’s future.” A tribal representative told the Seattle Times newspaper that future uses of the site were not definite, but that it could be used as a retreat center for weddings and other events.