Garden Walks // Looking Forward to Bainbridge in Bloom

By Kathy Haskin

More grows in the garden than the gardener sows.
—Spanish proverb

When it comes to our island’s beloved annual garden tour, truer words were never spoken. That’s because proceeds from the Bainbridge in Bloom Garden Tour, being held this year on July 10 and 11, support the year-round services and programs of the Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council.

Bloom-goers are welcomed into six stunning gardens, all of them exquisite private landscapes that more than justify the Bloom’s reputation as the premier garden tour of the Pacific Northwest. Gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with live music as an aural backdrop to the floral display.

“Being on the Bloom this year is a great way for us to give back to the community,” explained one of this year’s six garden owners. The locations of the privately owned gardens are kept confidential until the day of the event. What people do know is that each year the gardens selected are as distinct as the individual gardeners, and that by the end of the event, tourgoers will come away with a fresh crop of transplantable gardening ideas.

“My garden has different focal points throughout the seasons,” said the owner of the garden titled “Balance Through Design.” A good example is the Wedding Cake Tree ( Cornus controversa ‘Variegata ’ ) which never really “has a downtime—it changes throughout the year.” An English garden touched by the Northwest, this garden exemplifies the year-round interplay between textures, colors and shapes with rare cultivars and unique uses of familiar species.

The “Vintage Romance” garden has a trail of statuesque swans, bountiful layers of creative plantings and surprises around every corner. This playfully romantic setting is a must-see on the tour.

“This is my preferred place to be, in the garden,” said the owner of the “Flowers for All” garden as she stood amidst a fragrant bounty of blooms destined for beautiful bouquets sold to support Helpline House. This diverse landscape also enriches the body, soul and soil with generous vegetable gardens and rich compost bins.

Challenging topography is no match for the gardeners of “Splendor in Terracing.” “It was a matter of coping with the slope,” reflected the companion planters who together have transformed a hillside property, that would otherwise have washed down to the sea, with pathways and an open garden design. “This is our peaceful place. The kids and grandkids come to the island to be quiet, play a few challenging putting rounds on the green, and enjoy some amazing games of hide and seek.”

The “Solace for the Family” garden is centered by a peaceful bonsai garden complete with a koi pond at the home’s entrance. Mature landscaping stretches around behind the house to the family respite on the beach.

“Mastery in the Garden” is a picturesque landscape designed and cared for by a Master Gardener, naturally. “Look for the Toothed Fragrant Azara ( Azara dentata ), the Toad Lily ( Tricyrtis hirta ) and the large Honeybush ( Melianthus major ),” suggested this garden’s owner. The view from her lavenderlined gazebo sweeps down through the lawn, the gardens, the orchard and beyond to Puget Sound.

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