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If you have an interest in gardens and gardening, don’t miss an opportunity to visit Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island (frequent all-day ferry service runs from Seattle to Winslow). This is not the kind of garden with showy flowerbeds, but one in which Northwest native and non-native plants, shrubs, and trees have been skillfully combined to create a series of gardens that are artfully woven into a forested, maritime landscape. In the spring, the woods and meadows are carpeted with naturalized bulbs, and rhododendrons and camellias put on a spectacular show. In the summer and fall, you’ll find other plant treasures along the sun-dappled paths.

The garden was created by Prentice Bloedel, son of a timber baron. Bloedel and his wife, Virginia, lived on the property from 1951 to 1986, in a French chateau-style house built by the previous owner in 1931. About 70 acres of the estate were left as undisturbed forest, and the remaining 80 acres were shaped into a remarkably elegant series of gardens and natural areas. Pick up a map at the gatehouse when you arrive because there is no signage along the winding trails, and, if you’re able, follow the route that gives you the full tour (you’ll need about 1[bf]1/2 hours). At the end of your visit, I can almost guarantee that you’ll agree with Prentice Bloedel, who said “The Bloedel Reserve is a place where people find refreshment and tranquility in the presence of natural beauty.”