I had yet another unexpected plant surprise when I visited the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island this week. I had been looking forward to exploring this renowned public garden for some time, but didn’t anticipate what I found when I drifted down a sunny path and came upon the moss garden. A natural garden filled with waves of moss. Swimming over the soil, covering the stumps, reaching up onto the rocks and sticks, moss was everywhere. It spilled through the forest, surrounding the native plants and captivated all of my senses. Moss danced in my eyes, swirled in the air as I breathed deeply the rich green air, gave me a velvety touch and softened the sound all around me. Moss was everywhere and I was delighted with this garden, this beautiful peaceful place. This plant called moss goes unnoticed and unwanted in most cases. I was gratified to see an entire garden filled with moss. The plant that doesn’t fit into any of my categories, like trees or perennials, is treasured and celebrated at the Bloedel Reserve.
Besides all of the healthy moss, there are other native plants that anchor this garden. Salal is everpresent, but tamed and in control. Huckleberries show their glossy green-bronze leaves and deer and sword ferns grow in the shade beneath the tall conifers.
“The Reserve as a whole should be an example of man working harmoniously with nature; where his power to manage is used cautiously and wisely.” Prentice Bloedel
The weeds are held at bay, but they keep wanting to enter the garden. In the above photo you can see the line of buttercups on the fringe. I wonder how much time is spent in upkeep, weeding, tending and taming. From the Bloedel Reserve: “To create the moss cover, 2200 flats of Irish moss (Sagina subulata) were brought in. Those flats were cut into little cubes, amounting to 275,000 plugs, and planted about six inches apart, creating a temporary “moss” floor for the garden. The native true mosses then colonized the Irish moss and crowded most of it out over time, resulting in the beautiful green carpet before you. There are at least 12 species of native mosses in this garden.”
I just spoke with a friend who had recently visited the Bloedel Reserve. He said that as he walked through the grounds he felt more and more at peace. This garden made him feel good. Worries and stress trickled away and filled in with something stronger. I felt much the same as I walked around the grounds of this joyous place. I guess I’m happiest in a garden!
Mission Statement: “The Bloedel Reserve is an internationally renowned public garden whose primary mission is to provide a tranquil and refreshing experience of nature. The Reserve’s 150 acres are a unique blend of natural woodlands and beautifully landscaped gardens, including a Japanese Garden, a Moss Garden, and Reflection Pool, and the Bloedel’s former estate home. We invite you to visit this Northwest treasure. The Reserve’s primary interest is in the relationship between plants and people. There is a generally acknowledged but little understood ability of plants and landscape to evoke a wide variety of deeply felt emotions, ranging from tranquility to exhilaration.”