Catch the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, browse the shops and peruse the local restaurants. For walk-on ferry passengers, take Kitsap Transit’s “BI Ride” from the ferry to Bloedel Reserve where you can easily spend several hours exploring the 150 acre public garden and forest preserve.
The bus leaves you at the gate house / gift shop entrance where you start your adventure. Knowledgeable staff will review your Bloedel Reserve map and answer your questions. The map is easy to follow and if time is an issue, you can choose several key spots to explore and leave the full walk for your next visit.
Highlights of your visit to Bloedel Reserve include the serene Japanese gardens (comprised of traditional Japanese gardens, a Sand and Stone Garden and a Japanese Guest House), wild Moss gardens, a waterfall overlook, a boardwalk over wetlands, the bird marsh, maple lane, a reflection pool, camellia walk and the former residence, now the visitor center.
At the visitor center a docent will answer your questions. The library has a collection of 1,400 horticultural and botanical books, available for reading and research on-site. Explore the living and dining rooms on the first floor, check out the plaques on a hallway wall containing a brief history of the reserve, including a quote by Prentice Bloedel, the original owner: “Nature can live without man, but man cannot live without nature.”
Reflect on the quote as you wander among the main trails, discovering smaller trails which lead to benches in secluded areas. Here, you can rest and marvel at the elegant Japanese gardens or the wild yet meticulously planned moss gardens surrounding you and take in the beauty of this special place, regardless of the season or weather.
Open year round (closed Mondays), Bloedel Reserve has many special events including outdoor concerts, Koto music in the Japanese gardens, bird walks, strolls for well-being (register at their web site; maximum of 25 participants for each scheduled session) and art shows at the visitor center. Note that picnicking is not permitted.
Bloedel Reserve has won many awards, including being named one of the ten greatest botanic gardens in the U.S. (USA Today, May 2010) and one of the top five highest quality Japanese gardens (Journal of Japanese Gardening, 2004).
Additional information about Bloedel Reserve, including transportation options, admission, membership, special events, garden etiquette: http://www.bloedelreserve.org/
BI Ride: schedule and fare information http://www.kitsaptransit.com/service/routed-buses/bi-ride
Published: Northwest Travel Magazine, May 2016