Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bloedel - My Happy Place

On the last day of the Garden Blogger's Seattle Fling we visited The Bloedel Reserve and I am utterly in love now. I'm usually not one for estate gardens - sedate lawns, orderly plantings, stuffy house - but Bloedel was something else entirely. It was truly amazing. There is some sort of magic there. The careful attention in the layout, with emphasis on framing compositions in the garden as well as the well-timed revealing of vistas, the play of light and dark, reflections in the water and the contrast of hardscape vs. plant material is so wonderfully executed. It is a wonderful testament to the skill and passion of not only the garden creators but to the people who continue to maintain and direct the garden now.
perfectly shaped
willow reflection
Walking into Reflection Garden made me feel as if I was walking into a church. I hushed my voice when I spoke to others nearby. A sense of quiet and calm fell over me as the light slipped in through the tops of the trees like light filtering through stained glass windows. The single bench felt more like a pew where one could give thanks to the ever-wonderful Spirit of nature.
forest in the pool
temple pew
The Japanese Garden was delightful in its rustic simplicity.
japanese garden pathway
The Moss Garden felt primordial but also somehow unearthly and unreal. The glowing moss seemed to be something from another planet.
moss garden path
mossy composition
The overturned tree exposing its roots is an example of the fantastic maintenance of the garden. The tree is allowed to stay and become an impressive sculpture amidst the moss. Two wispy shrubs on either side of the root mass prevent a clear view until one is up close and face-to-face with the intertwining roots. The impact is heightened by being forced to view it this way. Genius!
toppled tree
root sculpture
Much thought also seems to be given of transitions from one area to another. They are accomplished in the most beautiful way.
mossy curve
I really enjoyed getting to talk to some of the Bloedel gardeners. They're so great!
The woodland garden was a wonderfully wild and wet experience!
rainy forest
boardwalk in the woodstree stacking
Even within this more "untamed" area, careful thought is given to delightful surprises. I walked along, never knowing how close I was to a wildlife pond until I came around a tree to be surprised by a window onto the water. Here is a photo of the approach (with no idea of the pond beyond):
the reveal
And here is a few steps further down the path when the window opens up to reveal the water:
revealed pond
The play of light and dark, the tension of border between woods and meadow is a classic pull in the human brain - the protection of hiding in the woods versus the relief of being in the open and being able to see what is approaching. One's preference of one over the other can be interesting to examine. On this day, I was enjoying them both. The grass of the meadow was beautiful with its undulations and subtle color.
rainy medow
meadow sea
It had been raining when I was in the trees and after walking for a bit with my umbrella up, I realized that there was no rain falling - even though I could still hear the distinct and loud sound of rain. I put down my umbrella and realized it was the trees that surrounded the meadow that were still "raining" as the water dripped from leaf to leaf. It was an interesting experience to stand there in the open, staying dry, while being completely surrounded by the sound of loud rain - not of dripping - but of rain because of the large number of trees nearby.
glowing beacon
I really enjoyed the placement of benches around the garden too. I didn't sit in any of them because I was briskly trying to not miss an inch of the place. I'd love to return and spend some extended time absorbing the beauty.
japanese garden bench
pond bench
house bench
It was a wet day but I think we all had a great time. Thank you to the Bloedel staff for such a wonderful experience! I'm dreaming of coming back sometime on a crisp autumn day to see the colors turn, as a counterpoint to this wonderfully green day. I'm sure the garden is lovely in every season!


  1. What a marvelous treat both your pictures and your words are! So well-written and photographed.

  2. Beautiful! You captured it so well, Kelly. I got some of the same images, but you also got some views I didn't see. It was so great to meet you at the Fling.

  3. Even though I saw the same place, I obviously didn't SEE it! Thank you for being such a talented guide.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this Kelly. I was sad to miss this day and your photographs are always so good. I feel as if I were there. You have great talent. I must go back sometime and experience this place for myself.

  5. Lovely, Kelly. A lot of the same shots called to me, but I think you captured them all beautifully. The rain just added to the beauty.

  6. Kelly, your photos are so very beautiful. And that place was so special. I think everyone was amazed by it (and I'm secretly a little glad it was raining since it made it more introspective). I enjoyed meeting you and hope we see each other again next year.

  7. Kelly, Your post is a delight to read and the photos are beautiful...Wasn't the moss garden wonderful. gail

  8. Amazing pics Kelly!!! You make the rain look like fun!

  9. I just knew what ever you chose to post about would be drop dead gorgeous! You are a gifted photographer who captured it all so well. I hope you I'll share more of your "fling" images soon! (and it was wonderful to meet you!)

  10. I think you had the perfect weather for capturing this garden. Not too much sun and the later photos are all glistening with rain. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Wonderful post, Kelly. So true about the psychological effects in experiencing wooded areas vs. meadows and making the most of transition areas.

  12. great post kelly! you conveyed your experience so well, through both words and images. i'd love to visit there again sometime - i can only imagine how all the colors transition into fall...

  13. I was also entranced by that uprooted tree. Enjoyed sitting with you on the bus.

  14. They should give you some sort of commission on these beautiful photographs. They make me wish I was there.

  15. I'm so glad I met you - and so glad you showed me things I missed at the Bloedel!

  16. Thank you everyone! I so enjoyed meeting a lot of you in Seattle. For those of you who haven't gotten to go to Bloedel, add it to the list. It's worth the (fun) trip!

  17. What a fabulous post--the quintessence of the Northwest garden.

  18. What a fabulous treat! The reflection garden is amazing. Thanks for sharing this experience.


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