(Fall colors in Bellevue Botanical Garden)
In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought it might be fun – and therapeutic in the midst of a long, gray winter – to showcase some color and flowers and greenery so here’s my take on the Bellevue Botanical Garden…and Happy Valentine’s Day!
(There’s a lot of flowers in this place)
The city of Bellevue sits less than ten miles east of Seattle, a short (though often slow and congested) drive on I-90 across Lake Washington and Mercer Island. For most of it’s lifetime, Bellevue has been considered a Seattle suburb even though it is now the fourth most populous city in the state at 122,000 residents. What was for many decades a sleepy, rural community has become a booming mini-metropolis chock full of high-rise office buildings and condo towers, upscale shopping malls, traffic jams approaching gridlock, and home to Microsoft billionaires, major league sports stars, and a diverse mix of regular folks.
(In the Japanese Garden)
(Path in Japanese Garden)
(Japanese Maple in the Japanese Garden (makes sense to me))
In many cities, trying to find some peace and natural beauty amidst all this modern bedlam can be problematical, but in Bellevue lies an oasis of green calm and serenity no more than a ten minute drive from the downtown core. Bellevue Botanical Garden can be found on Main Street just across from an office park, but you’d never know it given the surroundings. At this point, Main Street is a quiet, two-lane road cutting through a sleepy residential neighborhood even though it’s only a few blocks from a busy commercial corridor, but that few blocks makes a world of difference.
(Stop and smell the flowers)
Botanical Gardens are some of our favorite places to visit whenever and wherever we travel. First, they’re usually free and if not the entrance fee is nominal (Bellevue Botanical Garden is free.) Second, like this one in Bellevue, they can provide the urban dweller with a slice of nature in the middle of all the man-made chaos of city life. However, what I love best about botanical gardens has nothing to do with the price (or lack thereof), the natural beauty, serenity of a peaceful stroll, yadda yadda. Those things are all great, but for me the best part is that they are chock full of lovely flowers and plants and trees that I DON’T HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF!
(The trees are always in season, no matter the season)
To be honest, I’ve never been much of a gardener. Sweat rolling down my brow, blisters on my fingers from shoveling, backaches galore…let’s face it, it’s a lot of work to do it right. Soil preparation, planting, weeding- ugh! Harvesting? Now that’s the fun part, watching the plants mature, the fruit ripen, the flowers bloom. All the backbreaking labor leading up to that point…eh, not so much. This is why botanical gardens are the best. I get to walk around and admire it all without having to sweat for it. True, you can’t pick the stuff and take it home with you, but hey, that’s what grocery stores and produce stands are for.
(They even grow great stones stones in this place!)
Bellevue Botanical Garden is a great place to visit any time of year. Spring, summer, or autumn, color abounds in a tremendous variety of both native and non-native plants, trees, and shrubs. Even in winter, though it may not be the best season for blooms, there is still plenty to make it worth your while, including a holiday lights festival. The garden covers enough territory – fifty-three acres of cultivated gardens, restored woodlands and natural wetlands – that you can get lost on the various trails for hours if you choose (okay, you won’t really get lost, the trails are well-marked.) Or walk in for a short twenty minute stroll on your lunch break as many folks do, if you’re fortunate enough to work nearby.
(Busy, busy bees. They love this garden)
(It’s always a good day for a stroll in Bellevue Botanical Garden)
If you’re ever in the Seattle-Bellevue area and searching for an island of green serenity, or if you simply love plants and flowers, stop by and visit the Bellevue Botanical Garden. You’ll be glad you did.