In 1904 Angela Collins, a wealthy widow from Seattle, bought 45 acres on Bainbridge Island. She built a one room cabin on the beach where she summered with her children. In 1932, the beautiful French Villa style house she always wanted was complete. The Bloedel family purchased the property from the Collins in 1951. The new owners spent many years expanding the property and building the gardens - and lived here until 1986.
Today the Bloedel Reserve is a public garden, welcoming garden enthusiasts, historians, photographers, artists, and everyone else to the estate. The gardens encompass 150 acres which sprawl over open meadows, deep forests, formal gardens, and have an amazing view of the Puget Sound and Cascade mountains.
The mission statement for Bloedel Reserve is fairly simple; "The Bloedel Reserve is an internationally renowned public garden whose primary mission is to provide a tranquil and refreshing experience of nature...."
These gardens are for everyone to enjoy. Our family has been walking through them for over ten years and each visit is a visual feast that is completely different than the time before. The large acreage lends to the feeling that you are on the property alone - it takes you back to a different era - when time passed more slowly. What I love most is the peaceful almost romantic feeling of the silent grounds.
I visited the gardens twice to take pictures for the Gardening Gone Wild - Picture This Photo Contest judged by Andrea Jones - an amazing photographer specializing in gardens, landscape architecture and plants. The first day I visited the estate late in the afternoon and it was cloudy. All the colors were green and gray - slightly flat. The second day was sunny and cold, creating long shadows and jewel tones. The textures of the garden in the winter are amazing.
Here are a few of my photographs capturing only a fraction of the estate. The hellebores, snowdrops, primroses - and one red rhody are blooming. The magnolia trees and trilliums are not far behind. I'm looking forward to returning in a few weeks to see what has changed.
To choose a picture to enter into the photo contest I had to go back to the definition of "Genius Loci" - it is "the term meaning ‘the genius of the place’, referring to the presiding deity or spirit. Every place has its own unique qualities, not only in terms of its physical makeup, but of how it is perceived....",
After many hours of thinking and re-thinking and thinking again. I keep coming back to the weeping willow tree. I feel that this tree is the heart and soul of the property. It's old twisting branches full of moss and ferns have a romantic and almost spiritual presence. The tree speaks to the formality of the estate and still holds its own with the natural informal spaces. I'm going to submit this picture as the Genius Loci.