My grandmother moved to Washington state when I was very young (four or younger) and so that became our family destination as I grew up. We didn't travel anywhere else as a family, as travel from Hawaii was expensive and Washington offered everything that my parents enjoyed, family, and removed the need for a hotel. I recall going to the Bloedel Reserve many times during my childhood and have a lot of photos there with this weird blue parka I wore and my thick and straight-across bangs. I also recall whining about having to go to Bloedel time and time again. My grandmother was a tour guide there for twenty years, and so had an intimate knowledge of the plants and history of the reserve. Fast forward a few years (well, 21 years) and now I love Bloedel. It's a gorgeous property with beautiful gardens and it satisfies all my requirements for a nice walk: flowers, ducks, bodies of water, views, and easy, well-maintained paths.
Ben and I had the opportunity to go when we visited my grandmother two weeks ago and it happened to be his inaugural visit. I think Ben was too tired after eating 2 sandwiches for lunch to really enjoy it, but it was a gorgeous day and everything was in bloom.
Bloedel was a residence from the years of 1951 to 1986 before it was turned over by Prentice Bloedel (a lumber baron) and his wife Virginia, to become a public garden for all to access. The property is 150 acres and includes a Japanese garden, rolling lawns, a moss garden, water features, and sweeping views of the Puget Sound and the Cascade mountain range. The Bloedel's house on the property is now the vistor center and is a gorgeous French-chateau style house that overlooks a long lawn and a beautiful willow tree.
In a bizarre bit of trivia about the estate, the author Theodore Roethke died on Bainbridge Island when he had a heart attack in a friend's swimming pool and drowned. The pool has since become the zen garden at Bloedel (filled in with sand and rocks).
Bloedel is on the North side of the island closest to Poulsbo and is absolutely worth a visit for some peace and quiet!