I am not sure how I found this place (Brian was impressed and didn't know it even existed), but I was doing some research on things to see/do on Bainbridge and came upon their website a few years ago. The idea of a 150-acre nature preserve and garden (designed by the vice-chairman of a lumber company) with influence of the conservation movement and oriental philosophy sounded just to interesting to pass up.
The Bloedel Reserve has both natural and highly-landscaped lakes, immaculate lawns, woods, a rock and sand Zen Garden (formerly the swimming pool where poet Theodore Roethke drowned in 1963), a moss garden (unique for these parts, ha ha), a rhododendron glade, and a Reflection Garden.
The Bloedel's French Chateau-style home including many original furnishings, is preserved as a Visitor Center. The number of visitors to the Reserve is limited, to preserve its tranquility and the experience of its visitors. Brian and I had 1:30 PM reservations.
I took two cameras, giving Brian the digital to shoot while I used the "big" camera with one roll of black and white and one roll of color film. Here is our detailed tour.
We were met at the gate, by our hostess who gave us a list of rules to read while we parked the car. Inside, we were checked in and given a detailed self tour guidebook and map and sent on our way. The first part of our journey took us through a field in which you are to set aside the distractions of "city" life and assimilate yourself back to nature.
Together, the water and plantings both attract and display birds. Ducks, geese and swans make their homes among the native ferns. The sounds were mesmerizing. Not knowing bird calls/sounds....I felt at a disadvantage being surrounded by such an auditory symphony.
You next step abruptly into a dense Northwest forest, undisturbed except for access trails. Evergreens dominate: Douglas fir, western red cedar and hemlock.
Stepping from the deep woods into the residential landscape, this formal, European style landscape is characterized by man-made lakes, weeping willow, English elms and a parrot tree, flanking the main facade of the house.
The Visitor Center, designed as a French country house, on a bluff overlooking Port Madison Bay near Agate Pass, was constructed in 1931, when its neighboring houses were small log and frame summer cabins.
Around the north side of the house is the Waterfall Overlook. A large copper beech stands to the right at the top of the stairway at the Visitor Center lawn. From the Overlook, a path leads you into the Glen. The waterfall was built about 1954.
Rhododendrons thrive and are blooming! Thousands of perennials, bulbs and wildflowers bloom among the rhododendrons, including more than 15,000 cyclamen plants, one of the largest plantings in the world.
From Oriental respect for nature, we now move closer to reverence. In this hushed room, with its living carpet so dense, it seems to breathe. The light that seeped into this area was both eerie and calming.
Out of the elemental materials of gardening - a natural spring, sky, earth, grass and trees - the Reflection Pool creates a setting of magical simplicity. The pool tames the forest with its geometric precision and the stillness of its ground waters.
There should be no despair for you
They weep, you weep, it must be so;