Monday, August 1, 2011

Peaceful Bloedel Reserve

Japanese maple
How do I tell the story of Bloedel Reserve? I can only tell you of the impressions this beautiful garden on Bainbridge Island made on me, and hopefully show you through some of the few photos I took how I felt. Bloedel Reserve was our last big outing of the Seattle Fling for garden bloggers. To say that the whole experience exceeded my expectations is no exaggeration. But I'll save the telling of the Fling experiences for later. Meanwhile, join me on this rainy day in Bloedel.

The silent mower
The photo of the lawnmower is a bit of joke. I was in the first group who attended the three photography workshops given by David Perry (the fabulous garden photographer and funny man to boot), and we were constantly assaulted by the sounds of mowers going as he spoke (it was the one day per week the Reserve is closed, so naturally it's when some of the heavy work gets done). The finally silent lawnmower was the first thing I encountered when I left the visitor center to shoot photos.

Garden gate near the Japanese guest house
I spent most of my time near the Japanese garden. The sense of peace there was palpable to me. Wherever I turned I saw majestic trees and the slight hand of man.

Rain and lack of a Death Star means gunnera grows quite large there.

Ever present moss
But many small things grow in Bloedel as well.

Near the visitor center is a Japanese guest house (the Reserve was only established in 1988, two years after the Bloedels lived there). One of the powerful aspects to Bloedel is the way in which each scene invites one to further exploration. Leaving the visitor center I saw this large pond and little glimpses of other interesting things to come beyond the pond.

Japanese guest house
Sure enough, the guest house appears.

The Dry Garden
Just outside the guest house is a traditional Japanese dry garden, very serene and meditative. I spent some time around the guest house, just imagining what it might be like to stay a long time there.

Stream outside guest house
Each step took me farther into tranquility as the light rain muffled sounds and deepened the green.

Rain on pine tree
While I was sitting and contemplating the beauty, I realized I had only one shot left on my camera (long story but my digital SLR died that day and my compact camera only had room for a few photos). So what would be my last photo of the Fling experience? Because I was in such a peaceful frame of mind, and because I wanted to shoot into the light (inside joke), I thought the raindrops on the pine tree I was near would be perfect. And so I hope my last photo brings you peace as well.

But one more thing - I want to leave you with some interesting facts about Bloedel Reserve. Prentice Bloedel took over the helm of his family's timber business but retired early to work on his property. This is from their website:
"Prentice Bloedel was a pioneer in renewable resources and sustainability. He was the first to use sawdust as a fuel to power his company’s mills. He replanted clear cut areas, and started a company that marketed fireplace logs made from sawdust. He also was deeply interested in the relationship between people and the natural world, and the power of landscape to evoke emotions ranging from tranquility to exhilaration. Indeed, some believe that due to his early school experiences and his bout with polio as a young man, Prentice Bloedel may have been ahead of his time in his understanding of the therapeutic power of gardens and landscape."

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2011. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. it was magical and you've captured it wonderfully/beautifully~gail

  2. Lovely post and photos, Jean! Glad you had such a nice time. Yes, that last photo exudes peace;-)

  3. The second that first photo of the Japanese maple appeared I knew this would be a great post, Jean. You knew exactly what our weary eyes craved and shared it. What lovely reflections in the water! So glad you got to go!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. I spent quite a bit of time around the reflection pool. As soon as I saw it, I felt the need to whisper to the docent standing nearby so as not to disturb the forest surrounding it. I think the Bloedel Reserve touched something within all of us... it's a magical place and I hope to visit again sometime.

  5. Certainly a highlight for any visit to the Seattle area. I loved the rainy day. It made the moss glisten.

  6. carol's right, it was a magical day, and you captured its essence. i bet you'll carry that day with you for a long time. i know i will...

  7. This was the garden of my dreams, Jean, and you have presented it perfectly. I love the photos and your narrative explains well the magic and majesty. Amen.


  8. I feel so relaxed now...your last shot sums up the day perfectly. Just lovely.

  9. Beautiful! My favorite photos are of the Japanese maple, the stream, and your last -- amazing how you caught the falling raindrops behind the pine branch! The Japanese garden was one of my favorite spots, too.

  10. What an evocative post. I also spent a lot of time in the Japanese garden - and I love the photos you took - at slightly different angles from mine. You gave me a lesson as important as the one we got from David Perry.

  11. What a beautiful place. And, your photos are wonderful.
    So good to see something green, instead of all the brown we have here in Texas.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. It was a beautifully peaceful place which seemed quite at home in the rain which could not dampen our spirits. Your pictures are perfection.

  13. I think Bloedel was my favorite Fling destination, Jean. What a stunning garden.

    I still haven't gone through my photos yet. In fact, I haven't gotten home yet! Still sightseeing in the Pacific NW, but I'll have to go back to our 100+ F weather soon, I suppose.

  14. Thank you, Jean. Your words and images are perfection.

  15. For many reasons, I'm glad we saw this garden through the veil of rain. Your pictures and commentary bring it all back beautifully.

  16. Hello Jean. The air of tranquility of the Bloedel garden shines through in your photographs. It's to do with water and reflections and moss and peace. It also looks cool which I'm sure it wasn't.
    On a different note the Seattle Fling sounds fun. I wonder if we could do something similar....

  17. What an absolutely beautiful post, Jean! I wish now that I would not have missed Blodel. I am going to have to put it on my calendar to get out there soon. Your post was so peaceful and the pictures complimented it so well.

  18. Such a beautiful and peaceful place, Jean; it must have been hard to leave this serene setting. I've been reading a few of the posts on Seattle, and while all of the gardens look fantastic, this is the place that would have made the most lasting impression on me, too. Thanks for sharing.

  19. We visited Bloedel in Sept. 2000 and have never forgotten it. Even though we were familiar with parts of it from books, it was amazing in person. We both consider it the best "garden" in the U.S. Did you realize that dry gravel garden is a former swimming pool?!


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