Venture into Bloedel Bainbridge: Top 5 Experiences Can’t Skip

One adventure you will want to experience on Bainbridge Island is visiting Bloedel Reserve in Bainbridge. You will find so much to do there that it can be challenging to know what to do if you are short of time. Therefore, I have developed this guide to tell you about the top five experiences.

1.-Explore the Gardens

There are five Bloedel gardens in Bainbridge. The first area that you will want to explore is the Arrival Garden. This area opened in 2022, so this is the first time I have seen it, and it is so gorgeous. The trees and shrubs will grow over time, so this will become a unique space to meet friends who want to explore the gardens with you.

You will also want to explore the Japanese Garden, which is one of the oldest gardens at Bloedel Bainbridge. Fujitaro Kubota designed this garden in 1959 when Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island in Washington opened. Following the Serenity Trail will allow you to see some of the oldest trees at this reserve, including the dome-shaped laceleaf Japanese maple next to the Japanese Guest House, which Kubota had imported from Japan. Experts believe this tree to be over 170 years old, making it the oldest tree at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.

Bloedel Flowers

You will also want to explore the Moss Garden, which is unusual in the United States, although they are common in Japan. Richard Haag designed this beautiful space as four areas based on his observations at Nitobe Japanese Garden in 1982. Initially, he planted 275,000 one-inch square starts of Irish moss to cover the area. Within five years, native mosses overtook the area. I enjoyed seeing the 40 varieties of moss in this garden.

As I wandered around the Japanese Guest House, I discovered the Sand and Stone Garden. It is difficult to believe that this area was once a swimming pool. Dr. Koichi Kawana designed this area in 1987, and he intended for people to enjoy it from inside the Japanese Guest House, so please do not step on it.

The Jurassic Garden is the second youngest garden at Bloedel in Bainbridge. I loved seeing the beautiful dinosaur plants in this garden that are placed mid-stream and surrounded by conifers, herbaceous perennials and various grasses. The leaf size of these plants is simply amazing.

2.-Explore the Japanese Guest House

Water view from Bloedel

Paul Hayden Kirk designed the Japanese Guest House in the 1960s, and you will love the view of the Japanese Garden from its location. The beautiful building combines elements of Japanese temple architecture and the architecture of Northwest Coastal Native American longhouses. Note that visitors are discouraged from entering this building. Still, the shoji screens on the front of the building are often left open so you can see the interior, which has been left as guests experienced it in the 1960s when friends and family of the Bloedels often used it.

3.-Meditate at The Reflection Pool

Even though I have been there before, visiting the Reflection Pool, across from the Japanese Garden and next to the Moss Garden, always takes my breath away. As you walk between the 200-foot-long hedges for the first time, the pool suddenly emerges in front of you. Prentice Bloedel drew inspiration from Finnish and English canal ponds, which she had viewed in photographs. Thomas Church designed this space at Bloedel in Bainbridge as a place for meditation. Unlike the canal ponds, the pool’s water does not flow. Instead, a natural underground spring provides water for the pool.

4.-Swan Pond and Orchid Trail

Bloedel Swan Pond

My favorite space at Bloedel in Bainbridge is the Swan Pond and Orchid Trail. As you wander along the trail, you will see beautiful salal, sword ferns, and orchids native to this reserve on Bainbridge Island. I love walking through the cathedral of second-growth forest to arrive at the pond tucked behind an ancient stump. The pond is a fantastic place where you might see river otters building their homes.

5.-The Residence

Do not leave Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island without touring the first floor of the Bloedel residence. J. Lister Holmes drew inspiration from 18th-century French mansions when he designed this home in 1931 for Angela Collins, the widow of Seattle’s fourth mayor, who called the estate Collinswood. Prentice and Virginia Bloedel purchased the house in 1951. They soon doubled the size of the estate and started creating the gardens because the area had been heavily logged.

Prentice, who had spent most of his life in the timber industry, was very creative in redeveloping the land. He worked alongside Thomas Church while developing the creative ideas you see when visiting Bloedel gardens in Bainbridge.

Blodel has its own florist who creates at least 12 floral displays at the estate each week. In order to create these displays, she often uses:

  • Rhododendrons
  • Pine branches
  • Sala
  • Roses
  • Peonies
  • Lilies

After seeing the dining room, living room, and library filled with fresh flowers created from flowers picked in the cutting garden at Bloedel in Bainbridge, climb the stairs to head out on the trail to explore the Birch Trail, the Bluff and Glen.

View from forest in Bloedel

The Birch Trail lets you see stunning Himalayan white birches with dark green plants carefully placed under them. Be sure to visit The Bluff, which contains a mixture of landscaped plants and wild areas. You will love the views of Puget Sound from this area.

The Glam contains the favorite flowers of Virginia Bloedel, and there are more flowers in this area than in any other place at Bloedel in Bainbridge. I loved seeing the rhododendrons blooming in the spring as I hiked along the trails.

There are two unique areas along this trail at Bloedel Reserve in Bainbridge that you will want to visit when exploring this area at Bloedel in Bainbridge. The first is the Waterfall Overlook, while the second is the bench at the northeast end of this area. These areas are especially great places to take photos.

Getting to Blodel Reserve in Bainbridge from Seattle is easy by taking the ferry. Guided walks are a terrific way to explore this reserve and occur regularly. You can also explore Blodel Reserve on Bainbridge Island on your own as it is open to the public from Tuesdays to Saturdays each week.

PS: If you want also to see it in video, I leave it here this official clip: