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SeaTac in King County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)
 

Elda Behm's Paradise Garden

 
 
Elda Behm's Paradise Garden Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 28, 2021
1. Elda Behm's Paradise Garden Marker
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The story of the Elda Behm Paradise Garden is also the story of the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden.

It is the story of Elda's love of gardening and how a community came together to express and share that love. Many of the plants in the Paradise Garden started as seedlings and cuttings more than forty years ago in Elda's original garden at her home near 159th and Des Moines Memorial Drive.

From the time of childhood Elda loved gardening. She pursued her passion for plants with a certificate in Landscape Design and membership in a number of prominent Puget Sound garden clubs. One of Elda's most cherished gardens was her Paradise Garden, which she started in her backyard in 1954. In it Elda wanted to incorporate flowing water as the centerpiece of her plantings. Next to several water features she planted an amazing variety of plants, including a resilient cedar root.

In the late 1990's, when the SeaTac Airport announced its plans for a third runway, a concern was raised about the future of Elda's Garden. In a great show of community effort, Elda inspired two-hundred volunteers to move nearly every plant
Elda Behm's Paradise Garden and Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 28, 2021
2. Elda Behm's Paradise Garden and Marker
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from her home to this place in North SeaTac Park. The labor-intensive movement took more than six months and much effort, but an incredible eighty-five percent of her plants survived the relocation—a tribute to her care and a lifetime of gardening knowledge.

The Elda Behm Paradise Garden is the first of many display beds in the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden. Among the plants preserved from her original garden are rhododendrons of many species, black trilliums, trees of many varieties, and a shade garden containing dozens of ferns and hostas. These are the plants Elda loved and wanted to share with those who visited her Garden.

As you walk through the Paradise Garden, savoring its peacefulness and beauty, Elda would wish that you share her vision that a love of gardening and a love of people can together accomplish something great and lasting. A garden is a legacy for life, but a garden is ever-changing, so much work must be done to keep it going. If Elda were with us today, she would ask if you could give a little time to volunteer and help her Paradise Garden.

[Timeline]
1910's

Elda Louise Gothke is born in Spokane, WA
Attended grade school in Malaga, WA

1920's
Attended Wenatchee High School, and was a leader of the 4-H program in horticulture and flower arranging

1930's
Graduated high
Elda Behm's Paradise Garden image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 28, 2021
3. Elda Behm's Paradise Garden
school in 1932 with top scholastic honors. Met her future husband Ray Behm in 1935 at a dance in Moses Lake. They were married in 1937

1940's
Ray worked on the design and buildout of the Grand Coulee Dam to bring water to eastern WA while Elda cared for their three young children, raised crops, and tended to livestock on the small family farm in Ephrata

1950's
Elda passed the Washington State Council exam in Landscape Design, Horticulture, and Flower Arranging

Ray's new job with Boeing's space program took the family to Puget Sound, and Ray and Elda moved to a property near 5 Corners in Burien

1960's
The Behms moved to 9th Avenue South in SeaTac, WA where Elda built her "Paradise Garden"

1970's
Elda is named Gardener of the Year by the Snoqualmie District Federation after acting as a lecturer and judge in Plant Combinations and General Gardening for the WSSDF

1980's
Elda becomes a Lifetime Member of both the Des Moines Garden Club and the Weekly Weeders Garden Club. Additionally, she is a member of the National Horticulture Society, the Puget Sound Daylily Club, the Rhododendron Society, and the Royal Horticultural Society

1990's
Elda's garden, along with dozens of other properties, was purchased by the Port of Seattle in the late 1990's because
Elda Behm's Paradise Garden image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 28, 2021
4. Elda Behm's Paradise Garden
it was in the way of the Port's proposed 3rd runway project.

Burien City Council member and local gardening guru Stephen Lamphear began to negotiate with the Airport and local municipalities in an effort to save the garden

The Airport and the City of SeaTac agreed to a community-owned botanical garden and The Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden Foundation was then created to build and operate the new garden

On July 27th 1999, the SeaTac City Council authorized construction of the new botanical garden on vacant land adjacent to the North SeaTac Community Center at South 138th & 24th Ave. South

2000's
The Foundation and the City entered into a Joint Operating Agreement and construction on the new Botanical Garden began in April 2000.

On Mother's Day, May 14, 2000 Ray Behm passed away quietly at the age of 90

In 2001 the City of SeaTac, the Port of Seattle, and 200 volunteers teamed up to relocate thousands of plants that Elda had grown from seeds and cuttings to the new Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden

The HSBG opens to the public in 2003, with "Elda Behm's Paradise Garden" as the centerpiece - a one acre symbolic re-creation of Elda's original Paradise Garden.

With the assistance of a group of Highline High School seniors, a 10,000 square-foot Shade Garden was added.

Elda Behm passed away on
Elda Behm's Paradise Garden image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 28, 2021
5. Elda Behm's Paradise Garden
July 14, 2008 at the age of 94

[Photo captions, left to right, read]
• Elda Louise Gothke, 1933

• Elda's Garden at 9th Ave. S

• Original Paradise Garden Sign

• Elda Behm, 2001

• Black Trillium Flower
 
Erected by 4 Culture King County Lodging Tax & Donations in Elda's Memory.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkHorticulture & ForestryParks & Recreational AreasWomen. A significant historical year for this entry is 1954.
 
Location. 47° 28.743′ N, 122° 18.227′ W. Marker is in SeaTac, Washington, in King County. Marker is in the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden, adjacent to the SeaTac Community Center in North SeaTac Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 13735 24th Avenue South, Seattle WA 98168, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. National Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); The Victory Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); Celebration Rose Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); Seike Japanese Garden (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Barney Clark Memorial Court (approx. 1.6 miles away); Foster Landing at Foster Homestead
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(approx. 1.7 miles away); The Freedom Shrine (approx. 1.7 miles away); POW/MIA Memorial Plaza (approx. 1.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in SeaTac.
 
Also see . . .
1. Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden (Pacific Horticulture). (Submitted on August 2, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Elda Behm's Paradise Garden. (Submitted on August 2, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 3, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 2, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 57 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 3, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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Dec. 7, 2021