We visited many beautiful places in Seattle, but none compare to the Bloedel Reserve. It was my favorite destination by far. On other trips, I’ve seen the Biltmore and Hearst Castle, which were also amazing structures built by very rich men, but neither, in my opinion, has the legacy of the Bloedel Reserve partly because of the old-growth forest contained within. Although we can assist in the planting , only God can create a masterpiece such as this.
We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, and I would like to return soon. I saw unique shops and eateries as our buses passed. Then, our driver turned into a drive with a gatehouse and waited only a moment before we disembarked and were given an interesting introduction by Kate Gormley, Program & Communications Director. She was followed by David Perry, professional photographer and author of A Photographer’s Garden Blog, who told our upturned faces (he was standing on a chair), that the essential element our photography lacked was . . . ourselves. David kindly offered three workshops gratis yesterday, and he gave us an assignment to pretend our pictures were for a magazine which was our blog. I’ve heard David speak three times, and I always learn something new, or I am reminded of something I’ve forgotten. Once I’m home, I’ll put up my magazine pic choices.
Suddenly, the clouds no longer simply threatened, but instead opened up. It began to pour. There was a twitter among our number (not the online kind), and for a moment, most remained under the overhang like chicks in a nest. However, a few of us hoisted umbrellas and ventured out into the 150-acre expanse of the reserve. As one friend said, “I didn’t come all this way to let a little rain stop me.”
Before long everyone else was also trodding the wood chip trails, and no one complained. To see the Bloedel Reserve in the rain which later changed to mistiness with intermittent showers, well, that is a special thing. I believe it made for extraordinary photographs.
I like Japanese gardens when they make sense, and this one does. In the center of this part of the garden is a tea house which was once a guest house built in 1964. Bloedel was also very interested in Japanese design, and there is a large Asian community in this part of the U.S. Where there was once a swimming pool, there is now a Zen garden. I took a moment to sit on a bench on the terrace and reply to a text from my oldest daughter at home. She asked if I was having fun, and I sent her a photo of the pond above. She is not a gardener, but appreciates beauty nonetheless .
I took all of these photos with a point and shoot, not an SLR. Layanee of Ledge and Gardens loaned me her Canon Power Shot S90 when the battery to my Nikon D90 would no longer charge. Jim of Compost in My Shoe also offered his camera another Canon. I discovered my battery problem thirty minutes before we left. Thank goodness for good friends. These are the hiccups which happen on a working vacation, or any vacation really.
In fact, I liked Layanee’s little camera so much that I may ask for one for my birthday.
So, I could give you more facts about the reserve like it was founded by Prentice and Virginia Bloedel, but you can read his New York Times obituary if you want, and the reserve has an informative video I wish I’d watched before we went. One of the docents seemed almost apologetic about his involvement in the timber industry, but I’m glad he developed better ways not to waste our living resources. Whenever I’m confronted by the lack of political correctness of history, I think, “That was then, and this is now. Now, we’ve learned to do better.” Just my two cents.
I’m glad Bloedel retired to the country in 1951 and then preserved his home for all of us to enjoy.
Here are the open days. If you’re ever in Seattle or nearby, do yourself a favor and step away from the technology and escape the city. Walk the bark paths, listen to the woodpeckers and watch time slip away at a snail’s pace. Your shoulders will come down from around your ears, and you’ll feel yourself breathing slow and deep.
Such is the nature of this special place.