In honor of the Reserve’s 25th Anniversary, we asked the public to share their stories of the Reserve with us. We received wonderful memories and displayed them in the Visitor’s Center during Founder’s Weekend.
We wanted to share the stories we received with you. And, if you have any stories you would like to share please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to collect stories for use in future events and publications.
Name: Krista Jenkins
Current City: Adelaide, Australia
Date of Memory: 1971
My dad was a gardener for Mr. Bloedel and was walking in the woods and heard an animal whimpering. He walked toward the sound, but then it stopped when he got near and he couldn’t find the source of the whimpering.
This pattern repeated for several days until one day he scratched his head and looked up. There, up in the branches of a leaning maple tree, was a little brown dog. It became our new dog, Maple, who we loved for many years after.
Name: Bruce Clark
Current City: Seattle, Washington
Date of Memory: 1980
In the summer of 1980 or 1981, I was in my early twenties and was working as a tree trimmer before heading to law school. My late mother, Anne Holt, was a fabulous gardner who lived on Agate Pass Loop Road and knew Richard Brown, then the director of the gardens.
I was hired for the summer to trim trees on the property, mostly to the west of the house. It was a great place to work and I was in and out of a lot of trees, mostly deadwooding to reduce hazards and to “clean up” the look of some of the conifers.
One day Richard Brown told me that Mr. Bloedel was a bit concerned that the trees were looking too neat – -that they ought to have some dead branches because that was their natural state.
As it happened, I was able to chat with Mr. Bloedel about this as we walked and looked at the trees. I was impressed with his deep appreciation for all of the trees given the familial connection with the logging industry. He told me, pointing at a Grand Fir, that back in the day those in the commercial logging industry regarding such firs as “trash trees” because they had little commercial value as compared with other conifers. He went on to express how his thinking had changed over time and how much he now valued the beauty of all the trees he had. I thought then, as now, that his comments reflected his connection to the forests here and provided motivation to create the natural monument that is the Reserve today.
Name: Virginia Abell-Clayton
Current City: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date of Memory: Summer of 1992
As a docent I greeted a gentleman and his daughter. He introduced himself as a doctor from Los Angeles. When he notice the piano, he asked if he could play. Given permission, I was treated to a 45-minute concert worthy of Benaroya Hall.
When I expressed my delight and surprise to his daughter, she informed me that he was also a graduate of Juilliard.
Name: Anna Neff
Date of Memory: Christmas Eve, 1988
As Christmas approached in 1988, the weather was cold. Might it snow? “Oh, please!”, sang our two daughters. And on December 24th it did begin to lightly snow. We were excited for the festivities that were to come on Christmas Eve. Everything was set for the relatives who would be arriving late in the day. Presents were wrapped, cookies were frosted, songs were memorized. We were faced with a long afternoon. What shall we do?
We knew from articles that had appeared in the Bainbridge Review that Bloedel Reserve memberships had recently become available. I don’t remember which of us had the brilliant idea but the idea was, indeed, brilliant. Let’s bundle up and drive to The Bloedel Reserve, buy a membership and walk through the gardens. It was magical! I don’t remember seeing another soul but we saw many little paw prints in the snow. We walked and giggled and sang, everyone pointing out one beautiful snowy sight after another.
When we finally piled back into the car, the girls were rosy-cheeked and tuckered out. I wish Mr. and Mrs. Bloedel could have heard the Bloedel Reserve stories the girls told their grandparents and aunts and uncles that evening.
We have been members of The Bloedel Reserve since that special day — December 24, 1988. Every time I visit The Reserve, no matter the season or the occasion, I see the magical place that our two rosy-cheeked little girls discovered for the first time on Christmas Eve, 1988.
Name: Alice Frost
Date of Memory: 2009
The front door opened to the Visitor’s Center and a young man and older woman entered. I greeted them and asked if they would like a guided tour to which they replied that they would just like to wander.
Perhaps ten minutes passed when I looked up. The elderly woman stood there with tears streaming down her face saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Her son told me that he was from New York and his mother was from Sri Lanka where a civil war had recently ended. She was crying from joy because she finally felt at peace. I was rather stunned, but said, “Please don’t thank me, thank Prentice Bloedel for creating such a peaceful sanctuary for all.” I was deeply moved by the experience and realized the natural beauty and serenity of the Reserve are important and universal to all.
Name: Beth Goodwin
Every time I come to the main house with my five year old son, he loves to sit and read the gardening books with me as well as look at the “Eaglet’s Progress” book. As I write this, he is escorting a four year old boy he met outside through the house.
We also treasure Christmas time with the trains and hot cocoa.
Name: Laura Cloghessy
Current City: Bainbridge Island
Date of Memory: August 2009
The first time we came to the Reserve was for a concert. The concert was on the front lawn. It was a clear day and the eagles were teaching the eaglets to fly, swooping back and forth. Bloedel Reserve couldn’t have planned it better if they tried. It was so beautiful and quite remarkable.
Name: Hannah (15 years old)
Current City: Austin, Texas
Date of Memory: July 18, 2013
Looking at the view of the ocean at the Bloedel house made me want to write about it. I want to be an author and this place was so picturesque, it may be just the setting for a future book. Thank you!
Name: Dave Hancock
Current City: Mercer Island, WA
Date of Memory: 1964
My mom was Mr. Bloedel’s secretary and I played on this property everyday. I loved flying to Bellingham with Mr. Bloedel in his de Havilland seaplane. He always let me play with the sheep and his dogs. He was the nicest man and always greeted me with open arms.
Name: Beatrice Roethke Lushington
Date of Memory: October 4, 2013
Current City: Seattle
The trip to Bloedel Reserve on the 4th October 2013, was full of memories beginning with the turn off at Agate and thinking of the day on August 1st 1963 when Ted Roethke went to Bainbridge to escape the vacuum cleaner at home. En route he met Virginia Bloedel and her daughter Lee who asked him to come for a swim and he was delighted to accept. We had seen that he had a blood clot in his arm the day before but he said it didn’t hurt. When he dove in at the pool it went to his brain. This was in the swimming pool at the newly constructed complex.
Years have gone by and I have heard that someone wanted to know where the poet died and had been told that the swimming pool had been filled in and made into a Zen Garden.
The Bloedels had met him not long before and had been won over by his charisma. The Bloedels were a devoted couple of whom I was very fond. Virginia, or Shinny as she was called, was very affectionate to me. I think they had lived in Vancouver when their two daughters were young and whisky was served with dinner.
Seeing the house I remembered the times Stephen Lushington and I were guests there after we were married in 1972. I remember there were swans on the pond in front of the house.
Among the beautiful trees there is a large moss garden which made me think of Ted’s poem, Moss-Gathering.