A famed Pierce County garden, house included, yours for $335,000

Rhododendron flowers frame part of the Chase house with Mount Rainier in the background in Orting in 2013.
Rhododendron flowers frame part of the Chase house with Mount Rainier in the background in Orting in 2013. The News Tribune file, 2013

An Orting garden frequently heralded as one of the finest in the Pacific Northwest can be yours for $335,000.

Bonus: A 1,424-square-foot house is included.

The 4.9-acre Chase Garden — the life’s work of Ione and Emmott, who bequeathed it to a nonprofit — went on the market Dec. 14.

The garden near Orting was created over four decades by the Chases. Built on the edge of a plateau, it has an alpine meadow, woodlands and an in-your-face view of nearby Mount Rainier.

The couple arranged for the garden to become the property of the Garden Conservancy in the 1990s. The Conservancy is a New York-based group dedicated to preserving and sharing outstanding gardens.

With a full-time manager, the garden has held public tours for years, either by arrangement or on open garden days. It’s been featured in numerous magazine spreads.

The Chase Garden is the only garden the Conservancy owns outright, spokesman George Shakespear said in June. The Conservancy closed the Chase Garden that month and Shakespear said the group was at that time “exploring alternatives.”

The property has a conservation easement that prevents subdivision, the building of structures and other major changes. It also requires that the new owner open the garden to the public four times a year.

“After several years of trying to find a compatible nonprofit steward for this iconic garden, the Garden Conservancy recently listed the property for sale,” Shakespear said in a statement Tuesday.

Kirkland-based listing agent Lisamari Emery said there is nothing comparable on the market.

“Not at that price,” she said Tuesday. “It really is a once-in-a-life opportunity for an agent.”

She’s had some interest in the property since its listing but no offers. The base of potential owners is small, she said.

“Whoever owns the property is required to maintain it in its current status and offer some kind of public access,” Emery said. “It has to be the right fit.”

The size and scope of the garden would require a full-time gardener, either the owner or a hired worker, as it has in the past, Emery said.

A new owner could live on the property, use it as a weekend retreat or just maintain it as a garden.

Some alterations to the Japanese-inspired home are allowed, but drastic changes — such as adding a second story — are prohibited, Emery said.

Potential buyers should not expect to flip the property.

“Whoever buys the property — if they sell the property — the easement goes with it,” Emery said.

The Garden Conservancy will carefully vet any offer, Emery said.

“Just because somebody brings an offer doesn’t mean there will be a sale,” Emery said. “A conversation has to happen first.”

Ione Chase died in 2006 at age 97, and Emmott died in 2010 at 99.

The couple purchased the land in the 1940s and began working on the garden in earnest in 1962. Landscape architect Rex Zumwalt advised the couple.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor