Day Trip Discoveries: Spring explorations in Woodinville and Maltby

The covered area at Molbak’s.

A perfect way to get into spring-mode is visiting nurseries, bursting with blooming flowers, vegetable starts and eager young shrubs. Two of my favorites are Molbak’s in Woodinville and Flower World near Maltby. Together they make a wonderful excursion, whether you’re buying for your garden or simply want to enjoy a mega-dose of spring color.

Molbak’s outdoor area.

Molbak’s began in 1956 when Egon and Laina Molbak moved to rural Woodinville from Denmark. They started a nursery that has since grown into one of the Northwest’s premier garden and home destinations. Passed down from generation to generation, Molbak’s now features much more than its extensive nursery and plant selection, which is always marvelous to browse. The nursery is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Molbak’s now offers clothing and gifts.

Molbak’s home store has expanded in recent years to include an amazing array of one-of-a-kind gifts, accessories and home furnishings. These range from scarves, handbags and jewelry to kitchen gadgets, tableware and seasonal décor. Last spring, an appealing clothing section was added.

At Molbak’s entrance, a staff person moves a shopping cart.

Other sections are devoted to garden gear and outdoor living, plus garden design services are available. Events, expert-led seminars & hands-on workshops are scheduled each month. Coming up in April, you can learn about topics including “Gardening for Pollinators,” “Growing Edibles from Seeds” and the “Right Plant, Right Place Guide to Gardening.” Most of the events are free and do not require registration. Find the monthly listing at

Russell’s cafe at Molbak’s.

Within Molbak’s tranquil garden setting is Russell’s Garden Café and Wine Bar, operated by award-winning Northwest Chef Russell Lowell. Take a break from plant perusing to enjoy its farm-fresh fare. Homemade soups, salads, quiche, sandwiches and wood-fired pizza are featured, plus Northwest wines and made-to-order espresso drinks.

Flower World sign

About seven miles northeast of Woodinville is Flower World, one of the largest retail nurseries of its kind on the West Coast. Located near Maltby, Flower World operates a year-round garden center covering 15 acres, three of which are covered. You’ll be amazed by its its sheer size, huge selection and affordable prices. Flower World grows 90 percent of its plants in its own greenhouses and production fields, unlike most other nurseries and garden centers.

The covered area at Flower World.

Flower World offers much more than annual and perennial flowers. You’ll find an extensive selection of trees, including ornamental, flowering, fruit, shade, deciduous, evergreen, espalier and topiary trees. There are large selections of Japanese and vine maples, azaleas and rhododendrons, rose bushes, berry bushes, ornamental grasses, vegetable starts, herbs and vines such as kiwi. Plus indoor plants and decorative containers, colorful ceramic pots and bird feeders/houses. Flower World is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Animal Farm at Flower World.

Flower World is a great place to take your kids or grandkids. Its property also features a lovely park with strolling paths around a small lake, home to resident geese and ducks. On the other side of the park is Flower World’s Maltby Produce Markets and Animal Farm. Here kids can see several breeds of sheep and goats, now with their spring babies, in fenced meadows. They can also see hundreds of free-range chickens and walk through a screened area for a close-up look at peacocks and other showy fowl.

Maltby Produce Markets sells fresh eggs collected from the chickens twice a day, along with fruits, vegetables and herbs grown mainly in Flower World’s greenhouses and fields. The market also offers many vinegars made from local apples, ranging from classic apple cider vinegar to a lemon turmeric flavor. It’s open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Maltby Cafe

A few miles away is another temptation – the Maltby Café. It consistently places on or near the top of many “Best of” lists in the Puget Sound region and has won several awards for Best Breakfast. Indeed, its homemade cinnamon rolls, produced fresh daily, are legendary – and so enormous you’d be wise to share one with a companion. The café is located in former cafeteria of the historic Maltby school building; find its quasi-subterranean location via a small door on west side of building. The café serves breakfast and lunch daily 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Another temptation just a block away is the seasonal Snoqualmie Ice Cream’s Scoop Shop – opening in May. Its scratch-made, all-natural ice cream, custard, and gelato give the Maltby Café’s cinnamon rolls fair competition in the “treats” department.

If you do indulge – or simply want a bit more exercise after strolling around the two nurseries – head to the Paradise Valley Conservation Area. Its trail head parking (no permit required) is easy to reach from Maltby, just across Highway 522 several miles to the east. You can hike and mountain bike through wetland and forest terrain on an extensive trail system in this 793-acre preserve. The trails are well-signed, and a map can be printed or downloaded to your smart phone from the Snohomish County Parks website.

Cyclists at Paradise Valley.

All 13 miles of trails are open to foot traffic, some are designated walkers only, and most are multiple use. Ten miles of trails allow bike use, and seven miles permit equestrians. Dogs are OK on leash with scoop laws in effect.



13625 NE 175th St.
Woodinville, WA 98072

Flower World

9322 196th St SE
Snohomish, WA 98296

Maltby Produce Markets

19523 Broadway Avenue
Snohomish WA 98296

Maltby Café

8809 Maltby Rd
Snohomish, WA 98296

Snoqualmie Ice Cream’s Scoop Shop – opening in May

21106 86th Ave SE
Snohomish, WA 98296

Paradise Valley Conservation Area

23210 Paradise Lake Rd
Woodinville, WA 98077

— By Julie Gangler

Julie - headshot 2013Julie Gangler is a freelance writer who has worked as a media relations consultant for the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau. She began her career as a staff writer at Sunset Magazine and later was the Alaska/Northwest correspondent for Travel Agent Magazine.

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