And the air smelt like creme brulee
Andrea Bellamy |

Ben and I went to Seattle for the Thanksgiving long weekend (Columbus Day weekend in the US) and had a great time poking around in shops, eating out, and visiting the Bloedel Reserve on nearby Bainbridge Island.

Highlights from the trip include:


Seeing knitta-style knit graffiti


Seeing the drag/burlesque show at The Pink Door


Eating yummy chowder from Pike Place Market


And of course, our visit to the Bloedel Reserve, former estate of the Bloedel lumber family, on Bainbridge Island. Come along on our walk through the Reserve – after the jump.


The approximately two-hour walk through the Reserve starts at the gate house and traverses an expanse of meadow.


The trail through the meadow leads you to a path entering second-growth forest.


Layers of native plants abound – oxalis, arum, snowberry, huckleberry, ferns, maples, firs and cedars – and while it’s basically all an altered landscape, great care was taken to make it look “natural.”


The bird sanctuary is home to pinioned swans and migratory birds. The stillness and beauty here is palpable. Peaceful. The smell is heady, fabulous. I want to lay down in the grass but it’s too cold so we keep moving.

The further along the path, the more cultivated the gardens begin to appear, until we come upon the visitor’s centre, former home of the Bloedels. It overlooks Port Madison Bay.


Leaving the house, we walk through a glen of rhododendrons, Viburnum davidii, Skimmia japonica, Japanese maples, and Edgeworthia chrysantha until we come upon the Japanese garden surrounding the guest house. Fallen katsura leaves perfume the air with the lovely scent of burnt-sugar crusts of creme brulee. I wish desperately for a garden large enough to plant a katsura.


After circling the Japanese garden, the trail leads us to the moss garden, a “living carpet so dense it seems to breathe,” with the odd huckleberry bush and Angelica tree as canopy.


Back into the forest, until suddenly, out of a small opening in the trail, we are thrust out into the Reflection Pool garden. The brochure claims, “the pool tames the forest with its geometric precision and the stillness of its ground waters.” I like to think of it as a frame for the art of the sky and surrounding forest reflected in its waters. Simply stunning.

If you want to go: Reservations are required to tour the Reserve. Please call (206) 842-7631. The Reserve, located at 7571 NE Dolphin Drive, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays, except federal holidays, from 10:00am to 4:00pm, with 2:00pm being the last available reservation time. Visit their website for more information.

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