Lost Secret In The Bloedel Reserve

We were looking for the Moss Garden at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island during the Seattle 2011 Garden Bloggers Fling. The map had been studied and the docent had been consulted.

There was moss everywhere. We felt confident that the Moss Garden was just around the bend.

It was raining, hard, but we had umbrellas. The misty, shadowless forest was emanating magical vibes that were being received by my daughter Semi and me. She had accompanied me to Seattle to partake of the gardens and meet the folks she had heard so much about.

Oh, look! Someone has carved a green man face in this tree. How cool!

Let’s zoom in to get a closer look. Too blurry, let’s tiptoe closer…

Oh, it’s gone. Hmmm…..

Do you, dear readers, also see an old bearded man’s face, just to the left of Semi’s green umbrella tip?

Continuing onward, the real Moss Garden was located, with help from the docent who drove by on the way to the visitor’s center where lunch was to be served.

It was hoped we could find our way to the house, for magic and mystery were sucking us in at every curve.

Find it we did, thank goodness, for wandering this forest primeval* had made us hungry.

On the way back to the bus, after the David Perry photography class and after Victoria had soothed and entertained us with her piano playing and songbird voice, Victoria and I walked the path that went by the magical tree so I could show her the face in the tree trunk.

But the lighting had changed, it was nowhere to be found. I couldn’t even find the tree again. But the photos are proof, and there were two of us who saw it. And now you have seen it, too.

* * *

*Excerpt from Evangeline
A Tale of Arcadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest. …


Other Seattle Fling posts:

Seattle Fling 2011-Overture

Semi Does Seattle

Art And Artful In Seattle-Birrell And Tucker Gardens

Art And Artful In Seattle- The Dunn Garden

Glass Art Of Seattle

Art Of Seattle 2011 Fling-Day 2

Seattle Fling 2011 Day 3-Onward

Seattle Fling 2011-Grand Finale


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30 Responses to Lost Secret In The Bloedel Reserve

  1. Susan says:

    And I think the misty weather added to the effect. What a beautiful spot.

    Thanks, Sue. The rain and mist absolutely added to the effect. It was sunny and gorgeous every single day and night, only raining on the last day. I am glad to have seen the forest dripping. And to see the light reveal the secret Green Man in the tree. And to get a photo of it.

  2. This place looks so unreal, misty and mysterious.


    It was Eileen, it was like being transported to a place of dreams and fairytales. It was my favorite spot that we visited.

  3. Carol says:

    The Bloedel Reserve was indeed a magical, mystical place. A special garden and one of the highlights of the fling

    We loved it, Carol, as I know you did too. The rain and mist added to the magic.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A magical place. Obviously the man in the tree didn’t want a lot of company. He chose you and Semi to appear to. Did you want to just lie down on all that moss?? I think it looks so cushy. I can’t wait to see more of your tour.

    Thanks Lisa. We did love the moss the most, it was everywhere. That is why it was so hard to find the real moss garden, there were no signs. We were privileged to see the Green Man in the tree and were sure it was a carving. We were surprised and delighted to see the truth of it.

  5. Gail says:

    Frances, That was so very cool! I could definitely see his face. I will never forget the Bloedel Reserve~it was mystical, magic and marvelously beautiful. it was also very difficult to photograph in such low light! I am sorry I missed Victoria playing and singing. xxoo gail

    It was, Gail, a highlight of the Seattle experience for us. Victoria played first while I was attending the photo workshop. She even played and sang the Tennessee Waltz! Semi told me about it and I asked her to play again and she graciously obliged.

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  7. Barbara H. says:

    Oh, Frances, I can feel the mist and rain! I hope I can take it with me out into the humid NE Alabama morning. I know my face, at least, will be dripping… Love the Green Man. Love the magic. Love the moss. I’m so glad I also love my current property – it too often has magic drifting through it. Thanks for the the lovely closeup of the Bloedel Reserve.

    Thanks Barbara. I wish that cool misty rain could be conjured up here as well. We are the opposite of that Seattle day. The Bloedel Reserve was a highlight of the entire trip.

  8. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Frances, I am so glad it rained that day … the rain brought out the beauty of Bloedel in a way that sunshine never could.

    Me too, Cindy. You have put it perfectly, the weather made the Bloedel shine!

  9. I saw the green man. Good work sneaking up on him and capturing him in pixels.

    Good, Christopher! It must have been the lighting, casting shadows in just the right places for the hidden face to emerge. We were thrilled to have witnessed it, and to get a shot of it.

  10. An evocative post – in many ways 😉
    I am curious about your use of the word docent, which I’ve never heard or seen and don’t find in Websters, an American Dictionary. On internet Merriam-Webster gives the meaning and etymology: from Latin via Old German. What interests me is that the Afrikaans word for ‘lecturer’ is ‘dosent’ – which would be via Dutch from Old German. Is it a typical word where you come from? Was it the word officially used in Seattle? I’m fascinated.

    Thanks Jack. The word docent is in common usage in the US to describe someone who has been trained to share knowledge of places like museums and public gardens. Some are paid, some are volunteers. School class trips are usually led on tour of museums by docents who have information and can answer questions. Odd that you were not able to find it.

    • Thanks for getting back to me, Frances – seeing your use of the word in today’s post reminded me to check for your response. Really interesting – I’m amazed that its use has escaped me all these years! 🙂

      Thanks for coming back to check, Jack. I saw the Victoria, from England, also mentioned the use of the word docent in her posts about Seattle, so it is not a common usage there, either.

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  12. Kathy says:

    I was also fascinated by that upended tree root. Of all the days of our trip, it was the best one to have rain for. Definitely enhanced the mood.

    I agree, that was the day, and garden that benefitted from the rain. I could have spent much more time roaming around there. Lunch called us in, then we didn’t want to go out again, so did not see everything.

  13. faeyh says:

    Such beauty and magic….looking at your pictures, I could feel myself there


  14. Alison says:

    I have to admit, I don’t see the face in the tree. But on a previous visit to Bloedel I did see a tree trunk that was nothing but eyes. It was pretty creepy.

    Great post about Bloedel, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks Alison. I am sorry you don’t see the face, but am not surprised. I always see a human face in nearly everything, but at least my daughter also saw it.

  15. Les says:

    Don’t you love being humbled by the forest? Thanks for the tip that next year’s will be in Ashville. That fling may be douable for me, and Ashville is one of my favorite places. We honeymooned there.

    I am always humbled by the large, old trees, Les. I may have been a Druid in a previous life. What a delightful spot for a honeymoon, Asheville. I hope to see you there next year!

  16. Victoria says:

    I love the poem. That sums up Bloedel exactly, especially on a day like that. I’m sorry we couldn’t find the tree, but I can see the face so clearly in your photographs. If you screw your eyes up, you can just see it in the close-up too. Thank you for being so kind about my playing. I’m always delighted to perform for such an appreciative audience! With lots of love, Victoria xxooxx

    Thanks Victoria, that poem kept running through my brain while we were there, so it had to be included. Looking again at the appearance of the Green Man, it had to be the exact perfect light for him to reveal himself. I wish you could have seen it in real life. It gave us goosebumps where we realized it was not a carving! I did so enjoy your playing, thank you for doing a second performance! (It was Semi who told me of the first one, with the Tennessee Waltz. Sorry to have missed it.)

  17. That was an actual Green Man you saw, a spirit of the forest primeval. You are truly fortunate.

    Thanks MMD. We feel exactly as you describe about the whole thing.

  18. I can indeed see the old bearded man: great shot and great post! There were lots of fairies, wood sprites and elves at Bloedel. I didn’t see them all, but I could certainly sense their presence.

    Hi Caroline, thanks. I am so glad you can see the Green Man as well. Bloedel was a magical, mystical place, I will always remember it as if a dream.

  19. Lola says:

    Such a magical place for sure. I did too see the green man. Awesome. I’m so glad you took us on this tour. So enjoyable. Thanks.

    Thanks Lola. I am glad you saw the Green Man, too. He was awe inspiring, as was the entire forest there.

  20. Sweet story beautifully told Frances. Loved the Bloedel Reserve myself.~~Dee

    Thank you, dear Dee. It was perfect in the rain.

  21. The rain just made it better, don’t you think? (easy for me to say as I drool over the images from the dry and comfortable a/c) The rain just gives it that special, mysterious aura.

    Oh yes, I agree completely. We are lucky it only rained that one day in Seattle, and no air conditioning was needed! The weather was heavenly, unlike the hell-hole I returned home to.

  22. Barbarapc says:

    From an magical elexior of light and air that transformed stumps into old men to a hell hole – this might suggest that the trip was not quite long enough? Or perhaps you’ve got our weather x10 to the power of 42. Loved reading and seeing what you did in the enchanted forest.

    Thanks Barbara, your words are poetry! I could have stayed longer at the Bloedel, but was ready to come home. It is the weather that is hellish here. Oh how we need some rain. Today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year so far. Arghhhh

  23. Wendy says:

    Hi, Frances…it was so nice to meet you at Bloedel! Debbie and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit with your lovely daughter. Hope her trip to Seattle had a beautiful ending.

    Hi Wendy, thank you so much for helping Semi get to her destination! It was a pleasure to meet you and Debbie!

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