Shoreline Historical Museum remembers late horticulturalist

  • By Amy Daybert Enterprise editor
  • Wednesday, November 19, 2008 11:59am

Those who did not know the late horticulturalist Mareen Kruckeberg have a chance to learn more about her through the latest exhibit at the Shoreline Historical Museum.

On Saturday, Nov. 15, the museum opened the exhibit, Mareen Schultz Kruckeberg: A Horticultural Legacy for the Washington Community. The exhibit is a collaborative project of the museum and the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Foundation and was funded in part by the Washington State Women’s History Consortium.

Kruckeberg was the founder of the MsK Rare Plant Nursery and created the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden (KBG) along with her husband, Dr. Art Kruckeberg. The nursery and the KGB are located at 20312 15th Ave. NW, in Shoreline. The exhibit was designed to chronicle Kruckeberg’s contributions to the fields of horticulture and plant propagation as well as to showcase some of her personal sketches and artistic renderings of the plant life she loved.

“I did not know Mareen personally but I feel that I have come to know her through the family and friends that have talked to us about her,” said Vicki Stiles, museum director.

The exhibit was introduced during the museum’s 33rd annual membership meeting where guest curator Deborah Horn spoke about working on the exhibit.

“This is Mareen’s story,” she said. “Her creativity, her passion and her horticultural expertise. Her love for plants and nature inspired so many of us.”

Horn said she was honored to work on the exhibit and although she only knew Kruckeberg for the last two years of her life, she learned all about her life from her family members and friends.

Someone who could always give her the “names of people, places and plants without fail” she said was Art.

Mareen was born in Pennsylvania and came to Washington state four years after her birth in 1925, Art said. She attended school in West Seattle and then went to work for the U.S. Army in Fairbanks and Anchorage, Ala.

When she returned home, she enrolled at the University of Washington and earned a degree in botany and horticulture, according to Art. She loved to explore the flora on Mount Rainier,

Art and Maureen met when she was a participant of one of his summer-long fieldtrips at the university.

“By that time I was on the (university) faculty and bucking for tenure,” Art said. “I was fortunate to have Marueen on one of my summer-long fieldtrips. She continued her particular passion for native flora on that trip. I think she was the only one who wore shorts on that trip. It didn’t bother me at all.”

They became a couple and married in 1953.

“One thing that I should point out that not many people recognize is she took on a family of three children and me with great determination and efficiency and love,” Art explained.

In 1958 the Kruckebergs moved from the Capitol Hill neighborhood to 15th Avenue Northeast in rural King County. They almost immediately got to work changing the landscape but left most of the native trees where they stand today, according to Art.

“We were removing some of the common plants to make room for the unusal (plants),” he recalled. “She wouldn’t let me put plants close together, she wanted open space.”

Mareen was a “skilled artist” whose “botanical skills (went) beyond propagating plants to illustrating them,” Art added.

Mareen died in 2003.

The exhibit will be on display through March 14, 2009, at the Shoreline Historical Museum, 749 N. 175th St.

Kruckeberg Garden receives Trillium Heritage Award

The Kruckeberg Botanic Garden was one of four properties chosen for the 2008 Trillium Heritage Award during the annual membership meeting on Saturday, Nov. 15 at the Shoreline Historical Museum.

Shoreline Mayor Cindy Ryu and Dr. Art Kruckeberg accepted the award. The original 1904 farmhouse stands relatively unchanged today from its early days while the farm property was transformed into a native and rare plant arboretum by Art and Mareen Kruckeberg after they moved to the property in 1958.

Recently, Kruckeberg, the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Foundation and the city of Shoreline formed a partnership and the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden became a Shoreline park in January.

Other properties chosen for the 2008 Trillium Heritage Award include:

•The Wurdemann Mansion in Lake Forest Park is an original architect-designed home built by Dr. Henry Vanderbilt Wurdemann to promote the development of Lake Forest Park in 1914. The Wurdemann Mansion is currently owned by the Sankrithi family and is listed on the Washington Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

•The Bush/Benson House was built in 1913 at 17561 Bothell Way NE. One of the famous “first eight,” the house was occupied by Robert and Alice Benson for only two years before it was sold.

Very few changes have been made to the house over the years, which to date has had only five owners. Members of the current owners, the Bush family, accepted the Trillium Award.

•North Seattle/Broadview Dunn Gardens was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The estate was created by Arthur G Dunn (1861-1945), who pioneered the wholesaling of fresh and frozen fish in the Pacific Northwest. The Olmsted Brothers created a planting plan in spring 1916. Today what was once a summer home for the Dunn family is still occupied and is maintained by the Dunn Gardens non-profit corporation.

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