Arts and Entertainment

Bainbridge in Bloom garden tour celebrates silver anniversary

A Bainbridge delight called  “The Watchful Care Garden” is one of the attractions on this year’s Bainbridge in Bloom. - David Gibson photo
A Bainbridge delight called “The Watchful Care Garden” is one of the attractions on this year’s Bainbridge in Bloom.
— image credit: David Gibson photo

This week marks the 25th anniversary for Bainbridge in Bloom.

The historical garden tour has become a tourist attraction for the island, and over the years it has brought in garden enthusiasts in the hundreds.

“I call it the three-ring circus,” said Patty Bell, the chief organizer for the event.

The event will open this weekend and include live music, a fine art auction and an Evening in Bloom Gala dinner amid the lush Bainbridge garden tour.

After touring gardens from last August to the end of February, the Bloom’s organizing committee have selected five gardens for this year’s tour.

“Our gardens are always great, but this year we made sure the gardens were absolutely stellar,” Bell said of the Bloom’s silver anniversary.

This year’s gardens are the “Windows to the Seasons Garden,” “The Watchful Care Garden,” the “Garden of Delights,” “Pathway to the Sea” and “Salish Splendor.”

Salish Splendor sits on a little less than half an acre with views 200 feet over the Puget Sound. Master gardener and homeowner Omie Kerr has teamed up with two landscapers to transform her garden in the past four years to a sweeping wonderland of native species.

“You come around the house, and you wouldn’t even realize you’ve come up to a view,” Kerr explained. “Then there is a sea of salal.”

Kerr says that it takes discipline to stick with native species and to trust in the variety of texture and colors the foliage provides.

Nonetheless, Salish Splendor captures the Pacific Woodlands aesthetic.

“I think it’s important to be aware how beautiful natives can be, because it’s great for sustainability,” she said.

Kerr’s home garden, like the other four gardens on the tour, is at an undisclosed location. The whereabouts of each home will not be released until ticket holders check in this weekend at the Bainbridge in Bloom Hub which will be at the Filipino-American Hall this year.

There are five ticket packages available for attendees. General admission can be purchased for $30 and is good for Saturday, July 13. Ticket holders will have access to the five gardens where there will also be live music.

The Garden Enthusiast package can be purchased for $60 and is good for the Friday preview and Saturday admissions. This gives ticket-holders a quieter, self-paced opportunity to view the gardens.

The Preview Day Package includes a chauffeured guided tour on Friday,

July 12 with certified horticulturist, arborist and Bloedel Reserve’s director of horticulture, Andy Navage. The package also includes complimentary snacks in the five gardens and admission to the elegant Luncheon Pastorale at an exclusive sixth garden where an indoor house-concert by the renowned pianist Yelena Balabanova will be performed. It can be purchased for $215.

The Weekend Package includes the same as the Preview Day Package plus the opportunity to do the chauffeured guided tour on Saturday and admission to the Evening in Bloom Gala and Art Auction on Saturday evening.

The Evening in Bloom Gala will feature dinner, music and a silent and live art auction to benefit the Arts & Humanities Council. A sneak peek of some of the art pieces that will be on auction can be found at This package can be purchased for $340.

The Bloom will also be offering a less expensive ticket opportunity that offers a whole new experience to Bloom attendees.

A Bike the Bloom ticket can be purchased for $20 and covers a 26-mile route to each of the gardens where there will be bike racks available. The ticket is good for both Friday and Saturday.

The Bike the Bloom comes with a few changes the Bloom has made this year.

The tour has been trimmed to two days instead of the usual three-day event, and the mandatory buses have been eliminated.

“You will be able to drive yourself or even bike to the gardens, following your own schedule, which we know will please many people,” said Barbara Sacerdote, executive director of the Arts & Humanities Council.

Bell, the main organizer of the event, went on to explain that in previous years abiding by a bus schedule made the tour less accessible for islanders, while at the same time brought in a swarming amount of people from the other side of the water.

This year, Bell says, the hope is that without the bus system the Bloom tour will be a little more intimate.

Check in for the tour will be at the Bloom Hub, located at the Filipino-American Hall, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 12-13. Ticket holders will receive a Bloom Weekend Guide with garden descriptions, directions and parking considerations for each location. The gardens will have parking attendants on site.

Bainbridge in Bloom is hosted by the nonprofit Arts & Humanities Council. It is their primary annual fundraiser, and all proceeds from the event will be directed to the council’s efforts to support the arts and humanities on the island.

Tickets can be purchased through the Bainbridge Arts & Humanities website,

Bloom sponsors are Mike Fisher Construction, Bainbridge Organic Distillers, Bainbridge Gardens, Bay Hay & Feed, Columbia Bank, IOS Ranch, Puget Sound Energy and Realogics Sotheby’s. In addition to sponsors, the event is made possible by contributing artists and more than 100 volunteers.

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