A Visit to the Bloedel Reserve

Memorial Day weekend, when our younger son and his sweet friend visited, we left early on their departure day to stop at the Bloedel Reserve.

I’m puzzled why I’ve never been to the Bloedel before. At the top of Bainbridge Island, this large tract of forestland is right on our way to Winslow or the ferry. I had imagined a very formal and immaculate place, forbidding somehow – stiff with Butchart-like “bedding out.” How wrong I was!

Tranquil is the first word to mind. Visitors spread out on a two-mile woodchip path, meandering through meadow, forest, and wetland. Only bird song and call interrupted the quiet as we walked.

But this place isn’t just a hike in the woods – it’s a combination of designed and natural spaces full of beauty: meadows with tall, waving grasses, wildlife sanctuary ponds surrounded by habitat shrubs and yellow iris, a sweep of candelabra primula on a creek bank, rare rhododendron and azalea, a grove of white-barked birch, glens and dells where native perennials thrive under second-growth Doug fir, cedar, and hemlock.

From giant skunk cabbage in the wetlands to tiny mosses covering the forest floor in the moss garden, from the formal reflection pool, Japanese garden and guesthouse to the Bloedels’ residence (now a Visitor’s Center) overlooking an active eagles’ nest and Port Madison Bay – walking and looking (or sitting at many inviting benches) is a great pleasure.

A few days later I went back with our young friend and her mom – the second of what will be many, if belated, visits!

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