Nelson family buggy
This project funded in
part by a grant from



The 22 acres on which the garden is located was originally part of 200 acres that Maurice Skagen's Norwegian immigrant ancestors purchased between 1891 and 1905. Ole Evensen Oie acquired a 160 acre piece from the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1891, paying about $10 per acre. Andrew Oie added to the property by purchasing the adjoining 40 acres.

For many years, Andrew Oie farmed the land on which the garden is located. Maurice Skagen's parents purchased a five acre portion of the property in the 1960s. His parents then deeded the land to him in 1968. Over the years Maurice and James have added to the original five acres with the purchase of 17 additional adjoining acres. The garden now extends from 132nd Avenue SE in Auburn, Washington, to a tributary of Soos Creek and a couple of acres beyond.

In 1968 there was nothing other than the native trees and plant life such as Douglas firs, western red cedars, hemlocks, vine maples, big leaf maples, and native perennials, ranging from trilliums to skunk cabbage along the creek. In 1963 Maurice began acquiring plants as research for his master's thesis. Initial purchases included a large selection of conifers, azaleas, rhododendrons, and other evergreen shrubs. These have grown into some of the larger specimens in the garden.

In the mid 1980's tours of gardens in England and Japan inspired Maurice to create stroll type gardens. A number of plants were purchased during these trips, such as tree peonies from Kyoto, Japan and Sorbus from England. Over the past 40 years a wide variety of plants were acquired from Pacific Northwest specialty nurseries.

Soos Creek Heritage Center

The Heritage Center is devoted to the history of the early settlers of the 70 square mile area called the Soos Creek Plateau. An extensive collection of early photos, historical maps and artifacts of the ancestors of the region is on display.

Homesteaders enjoying family picnic on current Soos Creek Botanical Garden property.
Click here to watch an interview about the history of the Garden with owner, Morris Skagen
Learn the history of the local area!
The focus of the book is on the settlers and families of the plateau. It describes the development of the plateau with emphasis on farming. The book contains maps and early photographs of the area.
To purchase a copy, please call 253-639-0949 or
E-mail In your message state your
name, phone and the number of copies you would like to purchase.
History of the Soos Creek Plateau from 1860 to 1960
Garden Conservancy Northwest Network

We are part of the
Garden Cam
Check our Facebook page for loads of garden photos.