- Bainbridge Island
The beautiful Bloedel Reserve is not the only feature on Bainbridge Island worth exploring, but it’s a good one. Bainbridge Island, located in Kitsap County on the western side of Washington state, is only a 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle. If you are already on the Kitsap Peninsula, you can drive there via the Agate Pass Bridge. The island itself is ten miles long and five miles wide, and it makes a nice Seattle Suburb. Many people commute back and forth, working in Seattle but living on Bainbridge.
Bainbridge Island is worth exploring. Biking, fishing, sailing, hiking, golfing, and scuba diving are some of the outdoor pursuits. Indoors, there is theatre, ballet, art museums, shopping and more. The island also has some great playgrounds and parks. When my children were young, we loved taking them to Battle Point Park. Their playground structures are perfect for climbing, crawling, and playing hide and seek. I remember they used to have some interactive musical sculptures at the park as well. For this trip to Bainbridge Island however, our focus was the beautiful gardens of Bloedel Reserve.
Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island is a 150-acre garden and forest reserve that is open to the public. My parents and I visited there recently and thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely two-mile walk around the grounds. There were many photo opportunities, great landscaping ideas, and enough benches to sit and take it all in.
Over a period of thirty years, Prentice and Virginia Bloedel created the Bloedel Reserve. They bought the property in 1951, moved into the existing home, and hired landscape architects to develop Mr. Bloedel’s vision of the grounds. Years later, the Bloedel’s established a non-profit and gave the reserve to the community of Bainbridge Island. The 150-acre reserve opened to the public in 1988.
Not The Garden You Might Expect
If you go to Bloedel, don’t expect to see a garden with a wide variety of flowers. The reserve was designed to showcase the natural flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. There are many flowers, but they are the wild type. Don’t get me wrong however, the reserve is absolutely beautiful as these photos will attest:
The Japanese Garden
The Japanese garden includes a guest house and sand and stone garden. The guest house, designed by architect Paul Hayden Kirk, combines the features of a Japanese tea house with that of a Northwest-Native-American longhouse. We were not able to go inside but could peek through the windows.
Virginia Bloedel made sure that plenty of flowering shrubs and reseeding plants were included in the reserve. We visited toward the end of April and saw many different types.
We also appreciated the unusual:
If You Go:
Every public place seems to be following the CDC recommendation of requiring guests to make a reservation ahead of time. These organizations must be afraid that if they don’t take every CDC-recommended precaution they will be sued. It’s annoying, but that’s the way it is for now. At least Bloedel doesn’t require vaccines or masks!
Prices range from $5 to $20. They are closed Mondays. For more information, please visit their website.
If you enjoyed this blog, please remember to share it on social media, thanks! And if you missed my series on Traveling Massachusetts (one more to go!), visit the New England category.
And for something completely different, take a virtual visit to South Africa. Our family did a self-guided tour there in 2018. Here’s the blog that started the series – it has some good lessons!