This week, I traveled across country for business, but two days early to visit gardens on Washington state’s Bainbridge Island and to hike in the Olympic National Forest. The weather on arrival was sunny and sixty-two, ideal for both leisurely garden strolls and strenuous climbs, fortunate timing since it turned hot a day later.
Sunday’s garden was Bloedel Reserve, a particular favorite, visited first a year ago. Superb gardens should inspire the gardener, and this one has encouraged multiple purchases in an effort to create at home some semblance of this late spring paradise.
A rainy first year has helped young trilliums, waxbells, and Asian mayapples, but Virginia’s summer heat and the dry shade of this garden present additional challenges. I am hopeful that another year’s growth will bring full size leaves, though my wife argues this cover invites even more black snakes.
The Bloedel garden is viewed along walking trails that are never manicured, but increasingly touched by the human hand as the visitor nears the estate’s house. Plants flow naturally over and through neighbors, and I imagine the garden’s staff spends much time editing the scene to prevent the more vigorous from taking over.
On a tight schedule to visit the garden, hike the lower section of Mount Ellinor, and then onto Portland, Oregon to meet my traveling partner, only three hours were spent in this marvelous garden. But, this was sufficient time to prepare a list of must haves for autumn planting.
The Mount Ellinor trail (below) was only slightly less inspiring, though exhausting after a side trail added an additional thousand feet of elevation a day after I could barely stumble into my hotel after climbing a few thousand feet. I am too old for this, or at least nearly too old for such strenuous hikes on consecutive days, but I was motivated to see what treasures bordered the trail around every switchback. There was a long day, but perfect.