from “West Seattle 101” by Lori Hinton
Looking for a unique way to spend a summer afternoon outdoors with friends or family? Get some solid points for creativity when you visit Walker Rock Garden.
Located on 37th Ave. SW in the back yard of the Walker family residence, Walker Rock Garden is a mecca for geologists and a pleasurable art walk to be appreciated by the average visitor.
(WSB-added photo courtesy of Rhonda Porter)
Managed by Sandy Adams, daughter of the late Milton Walker, the rock-themed backyard park was lovingly created by her father and nurtured by her mother for more than 20 years.
“Mom did the garden work and Dad built the rock sculptures,” says Adams.
Walker was a Boeing employee with an artistic side that flourished in the form of stones, pebbles and boulders.
“He was the little guy that crawled way into the wing of the plane and worked on intricate tube bending,” she recalls. “He was wiry and always very active.”
Walker began building his rock garden after his youngest son joined the military and spent the next two decades spontaneously cultivating his passion.
“Dad didn’t draw up a plan, he’d just go out there and create,” she reflects.
He scored quite a large pile of his building material on just one trip to Oregon — 10 tons in fact — when he met a man selling his rock collection for a mere $150.
“He picked them up in his Dodge Dart and U-Haul trailer, came home and unloaded them all in the driveway,” she laughs, remembering.
And with all those rocks, Walker had quite a task ahead of him. He spent hours outside in the yard creating, and in the winter, when the weather was not so welcoming, Walker would stay indoors and sort rocks by size and color.
He continued to build until late in life. In fact, at age 70, Walker and his wife Florence put up an 18-foot tower you will notice driving by. And people of all ages can still enjoy his creations today.
“The rock garden is a work of art. Not a playground, but rather a garden for adults,” says Adams. “School kids enjoy it when they come, but adults can more fully appreciate what went into it.”
And according to Adams, her father had a tremendous sense of humor and loved to overhear comments from visiting critics.
“On Mother’s Day, he always knew there would be a lot of people here, so he would dress up as a tourist and walk around and listen to what people had to say about his art,” she says.
“The one comment I remember most was when a 4th grade student said, ‘I think this is what heaven must be like’,” she smiles. “They have never seen anything like it!”
So if you want to encounter a piece of West Seattle history and a child’s picture of paradise, visit the Walker Rock Garden, just a stone’s throw away.
What: Walker Rock Garden
Where: 5407 37th Ave. SW (map).
When: Usually on Mother’s Day, plus Sunday afternoons in summertime. (The family asked Lori not to publish the phone number, but you can access it by looking in the residential phone listings under the name “Walker Rock Garden.”)
Find more “West Seattle 101” stories on WSB by going here.