Located on the north end of Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, Bloedel Reserve is a 150-acre public landscape whose mission is to provide a tranquil and contemplative experience of nature. Prentice Bloedel, an early pioneer in renewable resources and sustainability in the timber industry, and his wife Virginia, purchased the J. Lister Holmes-designed house and acreage in 1951. During the 30 year Bloedel residency, they gradually transformed the former logging site into a multilayered, interconnected series of landscapes that celebrate the natural cycles of growth, decay, and regeneration.
To achieve his vision, Prentice Bloedel worked with numerous landscape architects, including Thomas Church, Richard Haag, Koichi Kawana, Fujitaro Kubota, and Iain Robertson, whose discrete projects often evolved under Bloedel’s direction to later designers. Haag’s extensive work includes the Moss Garden, the Garden of Planes, and the Reflection Garden, where he built on Church’s initial design. Haag’s bird marsh connects these and other northern gardens with the comparatively untouched woodlands to the south. Throughout the Reserve is a Western interpretation of an Oriental attitude toward nature, with each designer using plants, earth, and water in ways that reflect the genius of the place. The Bloedel family resided there until 1987; the property is now managed by the University of Washington as a public garden.
In TCLF’s Pioneers Oral History video, Richard Haag discusses the early stages of his work with Prentice Bloedel, the sequenced garden spaces building on Church’s work, and the conceptual masterplan for the design.