Featured Gardens: Albers Vista Gardens and the Bloedel Reserve

These pages highlight gardens that are featured in my book, Walking Washington’s Gardens

Albers Vista Gardens

Location: East Bremerton on the Kitsap Peninsula, in West Puget Sound (on Tracyton Beach Rd.). Directions are on the garden’s website:  www.albersvistagardens.org

Iris on the trail overlooking Phinney Bay

Photo by Angie Narus

A 4.2-acre garden on a hillside overlooking Puget Sound’s Phinney Bay. A path  of granite stepping stones, softened with Woolly Thyme and other ground covers, weaves its way through unique garden rooms up to a gazebo near the top of the hill. This garden features a mixture of rare and unique trees from around the world, a tapestry of colorful flowers and shrubs, and more than 1,200 native species and cultivars. It specializes in using sustainable gardening methods and displays plants in gorgeous garden rooms and quaint vignettes. The garden areas are given an artistic touch with items such as ceramic pots, sculptures, and benches made of wood and wrought-iron. Each area has its own theme, including one that displays a collection of rhododendrons and other plants under a canopy of Dawn redwoods, an area of colorful drought-tolerant plants, a dwarf conifer reserve, and a garden of roses and other flowers surrounding the gazebo. Tours of the garden are offered from April through October for a suggested donation. The tours are small groups and may fill up quickly, so register as early in the year as possible. Tour dates and information are posted on the garden’s website.  Special tours can also be arranged at other times. Self-guided tours are not permitted. Check the Albers Vista Gardens website for more information. Albers Vista Gardens is a non-profit, located on the property of Professors John Albers and Santica Marcovina who have been developing the garden for more than 15 years.

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The Bloedel Reserve

Location: Bainbridge Island in West Puget Sound. Directions are on the garden’s website:  www.bloedelreserve.org

weeping willow and pond

Photo by Angie Narus

A 150-acre estate garden and French-country manor that was the former residence of the Bloedel family, set in an English-style garden. The surrounding forest was designed with paths that pass through a Japanese Garden, a Moss Garden, rows of giant camellias, a grove of alders, and a glen filled with rhododendrons, candelabra primroses, trilliums, and numerous other flowering plants. A boardwalk takes visitors through a bog of carnivorous plants, and a trestle bridge gives a unique view of the ravine below. The Bloedel house, built in 1930, is now the Visitor Center. The rooms on the first floor, including the living room, dining room, library, and foyer, are open to the public. Eagles can often be seen from the Visitor Center’s east lawn that overlooks Puget Sound’s Port Madison. Events at the Bloedel Reserve include concerts, lectures, workshops, public guided walks, an annual Garden Party (held in August), and an annual Holiday Village. A gift shop is located in the reserve’s Gate House. There is an admission fee, but reservations are not required for general visits. Registration is necessary for certain events, which may have an additional fee. Open Tuesday through Sunday year-round. Visit the Bloedel Reserve website for more information.

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