One of the best, nearby nature-garden walks is to be had on the north end of Bainbridge Island.
The 150-acre Bloedel Reserve— an arboretum and natural reserve supported by the Arbor Fund — features gardens, ponds, meadows and native and imported shrubs and trees. Swans, ducks, geese inhabit the place, as well.
Visitors stroll through a formal European-style landscape, with the Bloedel mansion (now a visitor’s center) as one of the stops along the way. One wag has said coming upon the mansion is like stepping out of the woods via the Brothers Grimm and stumbling into Mozart. Actually, the 1931 house is more of a French chateau, but you get the idea. Inside are numerous photographs of the family taken by Northwest icon Mary Randlett, whose family summered on nearby Agate Pass while she was growing up.
When the rhodies bloom the reserve is in its full spring glory. Fall is another peak time.
The large sand Zen garden is an added bonus. A swimming pool used to be here. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Theodore Roethke, in ill health and a guest of the Bloedels, died of a heart attack while swim-
photo courtsey of Kitsap County Visitors & Convention Bureau
ming in it in August 1963. The pool was covered over the next day. The Zen garden came later.
The reserve also features an extraordinary moss garden, a rectangular reflecting pool set behind a high hedge and a wide array of labeled shrubs and trees. Allow about two hours for the walk.
The Bloedel Reserve is the only garden in the United States to be nominated for the first Garden of the Year Award, a competition put on by the British publication Gardens Illustrated.
The Bloedels, of course, were timber
people, making for a fine irony: A fortune built on clear-cutting has left behind a place of beauty and tranquility for the rest of us to enjoy. Such is the world — we might as well enjoy it. — Mike Dillon
Reservations are required: Call 206-842-7631. Information: www.bloedelreserve.org.