The Traveling Garden Designer is jumping coasts to Bloedel Reserve in Bainbridge Island, Washington. Similar to Thuya Gardens, Bloedel was a home belonging to passionate gardeners/conservationist that has been donated to be a public garden. A completely different scale and style, but still with the combination of formal gardens and natural woodland walks. We visited Bloedel during July, and the weather could not have been more perfect.
For formal specific gardens, right around the house was the most structured (outside the Japanese garden) and manipulated spaces. We spent just under 2 hours in the gardens since we were slightly rushed to make sure we returned for the last bus back to the ferry. In that rush I realize there were so many areas I did not really photograph. We focused our time to the house garden, surrounding woodland walks and the Japanese garden. (I’ll just have to go back to get more photos!)
Inside the house, was a library filled with gardening books. Visitors can still walk in, pull out a book and escape into the books. Unlike Thuya, this library had more recent books with in the selection. The books were color-blocked on the shelves in the post beautiful display.
Looking out from the back of the house you had the most beautiful framed view of the and bond to the magical placement of the house over looking the Puget Sound below. At the bottom of this photo you can see the mounding of the Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra) peeking over the edge. The next photo gives the view from the bottom of the hill looking up.
Here is the base of the hill looking back up toward the house and you can see just how large scale the hillside of Hakonechloa woven with other species throughout. I did a Instagram Live stream from this portion of the garden, and the woodland trail leading to the hillside.
We spent a lot of our time walking through all the forest paths. We would take repeated moments to stop and look up and appreciate the scale of the trees and forest. This was the very first red wood forest the kids have ever seen. This care of the natural woodlands was another aspect shared between Thuya and Bloedel.
One of the details I noted was the treatment of the edges to the forest paths. The use of natural logs at the edges gave the paths a defined edge to keep folks on the paths and ensure a natural transition into the woodlands.
The tea house had a class, so we walked through quickly to respect their space. I wish we had more of a chance to sit and study the garden and tea house. Mainly the gardens along the edge I don’t think I really had enough time to appreciate.
The crescendo of our tour landed us in the reflecting pool, a design I have seen so many times and finally got to experience in person. It was a quiet day at Bloedel, so we were able to be the along in the garden and sit and just enjoy the beauty with no distractions. The power of reflection in a garden is a theme that I keep returning to over and over this year.
I mentioned early on I did not have a lot of photos from Bloedel, including the moss garden which I could spend significant walking the paths back and forth studying. I guess it will need to be another trip out west. This image above is of a rustic fence just outside Bloedel that had a level of sophistication above typical split rail fencing.
Again don’t take my lack of photos as any indication of how wonderful it was touring Bloedel. We crammed a lot into that day, and may have had some fatigued kids that forced us to keep pushing forward at times. I found some great videos with Richard Haag about designing and constructing Bloedel at The Cultural Landscape Foundation website that are great to watch. I liked viewing the building of the reflection pool.
If you are traveling to the Seattle area I highly recommend taking the fairy to Bainbridge Island and take the day and explore the downtown shops, galleries and of course Bloedel Reserve.
I don’t know where our next garden tour stop will be on the blog. Maybe back on the east coast then a heavy hit at the APLD Seattle Conference tours. We will see.