Photo by Shane Harms
Club members and staff behind the new rain garden.

Swanson's Nursery and other community businesses beautify the Ballard Boys & Girls Club

Visitors of the Ballard Boys & Girls Club will probably notice something extra special thanks to Swanson’s Nursery. A new rain garden, lush with native species and edible plants, has been added in place of a shabby grass rain garden that was in need of some attention. Swanson’s also turned a high-traffic area that once was dead grass into a parklet with a four-sided cedar bench resting on paving stones.

Indigenous flowers, grasses and edible plants were planted and a walkway was constructed, beautifying the site. Different species included Sword Fern, Grandma Grass, Chocolate Cosmos, Echinacea, blueberry and evergreen huckleberry bushes. In addition, the bed also serves as an art walk where club members' art is displayed.

The project was a collaboration between Mike Peacore, Board Member of the Boys & Girls Club and Swanson’s Nursery. Peacore wanted to create a gardening program for the kids and Swanson’s was looking for a community space to beautify as part of their new community gardening campaign called Grow with Us. The campaign was launched in the spring and is a rooted in helping community members get the most out of their garden spaces.

It took Swanson’s and Boys & Girls Club designers just a few weeks to collaborate, design and install the garden. Swanson’s Nursery, Dunn Lumber, and Mutual Materials donated materials and Cupcake Royal donated cupcakes for the dedication.

“It all began with a tour of the Club, where we saw the raised vegetable beds that kids from the Club had been carefully planting and tending. Everyone was very excited about the fledgling veggie sprouts growing steadily every day. That inspired us to look at the two-entryway spaces as places where the kids could be involved with the gardens, tending to them, playing and relaxing in them and - lightbulb moment! - displaying their garden-friendly art projects throughout the year as they were created,” stated Swanson’s on their blog (

Before the Swanson project, Peacore had started a garden program for the kids with funds from a grant provided by Ground Swell and Gardens NW. Raised beds were constructed and kids planted it with starts they grew.

“We have been interested in getting involved with any business in the community that wanted to get involved with the project and Swanson’s stepped right up,” said Peacore.

Lead designer for the project, Dan Gilchrist, said the project is completed but there is still some room to grow.

“We decided to add plants with more colors and whimsical seed heads so it will be more interesting to the kids. It’s kind of an experiment right now. We are going to watch it and see how well certain plants do, ” said Gilchrist.

Club members planting the new cedar bench. Photo by Shane Harms.

Brian Damron, President of Swanson’s Nursery, used to frequent the Club as a child and was very pleased to be working with them.

“For this project we were looking for a place where we could beautify a community location or a non-profit organization where we could install something nice for them,“ said Damron.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for the organization (Boys & Girls Club), and so when I found out there was a possibility we would be working with them I was definitely exciting.”

Brian Damron putting finishing touches on the newly constructed bench. Photo by Shane Harms.

1700 kids going through the North Seattle Boys & Girls Club programs a year. Peacore said that it’s important to get the kids involved in more than just athletics.

Swanson’s has partnered with the Boys & Girls Club and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce long term for the garden project and plan to make sure the garden grows and remains healthy.

“We’re always going to keep an eye on it. It’s going to evolve on its own. Dan did a beautiful job, and once it gets going it won’t require a lot of maintenance.”

For more information on Swanson's Nursery, please visit:

For more information about the Ballard Boys & Girls Club, please visit

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