Sunday, August 28, 2011

Seattle Garden Bloggers' Fling - Bloedel Reserve

Apologies for the late post, which I promised last weekend; instead of blogging, I ran off to the cooling waters of Balmorhea State Park, where Internet access was limited.

It's been more than a month (!) since the end of the Seattle Garden Bloggers' Fling, but sweet memories linger. On the final day of Fling, the schedule called for a ferry trip to Bainbridge Island, a lengthy tour of Bloedel Reserve, and lunch. Shuttle buses would then take us to Dragonfly Farms for an afternoon cocktail party sponsored by Proven Winners entitled Punch Drunk in Love with the Pacific Northwest. While taking terrible photos from the interior of the ferry, I missed the group photo, but I was there!

We'd enjoyed spectacularly good weather the previous three days: warm and sunny. But on the fourth and last day of Fling,the skies were overcast, and as we arrived at the Bloedel gate house, it started to rain in characteristic Seattle fashion.
The Gate House

We huddled under cover to listen to instructions and introductions from the Fling organizers, Bloedel staff, and David Perry, who conducted a workshop on digital point-and-shoot photography.
David E. Perry

I sat in on the first of David's three sessions, and picked up several excellent tips for wrangling my Canon A710 IS and the camera app on my iPhone. David encouraged us to shoot the Bloedel as if we were shooting for a magazine spread (you can see my efforts here), and revealed the super secret ingredient to great photography. (Hint: look in the mirror)

After lunch, we were free for several hours to tour the Reserve. The Reserve is closed to the public on Mondays, so our group had the entire place to ourselves, and a light drizzle persisted for most of our visit. Quiet, moist and cool: the perfect ambiance for a tour of Bloedel. Here are some highlights of the main garden features.

Lunch was served in the Residence, which now serves as the visitor center.
Main Residence/Visitor Center

Living room of the Residence

The Library

A stunning view of Puget Sound, as seen from the Residence.
Port Madison Bay, Puget Sound

This pond lies in a wooded area between the Waterfall and the Japanese Garden.
Pond near the Waterfall

The Mid Pond, pictured here, lies midway between the Gate House and the Residence.
Mid Pond

One of many moss-covered trees at Bloedel, at the edge of the Woods.
The Woods

Lace cap hydrangea.
Lace cap hydrangea

The Moss Garden was incredibly lush, moist and fern-filled.
Moss Garden

Many old trees were in varying stages of decay, yet harbored new seedlings such as the native huckleberry to the right.
Moss Garden

These decaying trees are known as 'nurse trees" and are invaluable to the forest ecosystem.
Moss Garden

The Japanese Garden was designed by Seattle landscape designer and nurseryman Fujitaro Kubota.

Kubota created an environment of paths around a pond that lent themselves to a contemplative stroll.
Japanese Stroll Garden

At the center of the Japanese Garden is a traditional Dry Garden of stone and raked sand, designed by Koichi Kawana, professor of landscape architecture at the University of California.
Dry Garden

The Reflection Pool is bordered by dense hedges and trees.
Reflection Pool

Reflection Pool

Bloedel Reserve also features a Meadow, a Rhododendron Glen and a Bird Refuge. I'd love to return to explore more of this special place.

Words and photos © 2009-2011 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Thanks for taking us back to that cool rainy day at Bloedel. I don't think any of the Austin crowd were at all bothered by the weather. It was so cool and green and misty. What a treat.

  2. Beautiful images, Caroline. They take me back to that lovely, cool and above all RAINY day. Wish we could have one of those in Austin, right?

  3. Caroline, Your photos captured Bloedel so beautifully. I haven't been there for 15 years, but felt I was there!