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The South Seattle College Arboretum was established by the College and the SSC Foundation in 1978, in part as the result of a petition by the Landscape Horticulture Program students for an arboretum to serve as their living laboratory. The 5-acre site is located at the north end of campus on a bluff over looking the downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay and the West Duwamish Greenbelt. The Seattle Chinese Garden borders the Arboretum.
The Arboretum is an important part of the SSC Landscape Horticulture Program. As part of their studies, students designed and built the Arboretum. It is used as a laboratory for courses in plant identification, arboriculture, pruning, irrigation, garden renovation, plant problem diagnostics, landscape management and landscape construction courses. The Arboretum is also used as an outdoor classroom by professional horticulturists, hobby gardeners and other college programs. Most of the plants on the Washington Certified Professional Horticulturist exam can be found in the SSC Arboretum.