Elandan Gardens: Bonsai along Sinclair Inlet
"Part of the art of bonsai is seeing the potential, and converting a raw and scarred tree into a thing of beauty. In this case I carefully sculpted the scars...."
- Elandan Gardens statement regarding working with a 120 year old Korean Hornbeam tree
While the statement above from the owner and primary force behind Elandan Gardens was regarding a specific tree in his collection, the fact is that it might as well apply to the entire facility of Elandan Gardens. When the Elandan Gardens first started in 1994, the land on which the gardens sit was a horribly abused and scarred pile of material, much of which was waste from surrounding commercial and industrial uses that have since disappeared.
Today, this bonsai collection is reasonably famous throughout the world.
I will warn you ahead of time that there are many people who will not want to visit this garden, however. The gardens are fairly small, and the entry fee of $8 will seem excessive to some for the size of the garden. However, if your interest lies with bonsai, this collection is probably rather a must-see attraction of the Puget Sound region.
Proving that just about any tree can be miniaturized and turned into a bonsai, you will find even the largest of trees (for example, a Coast Redwood) in a miniature form and put into a bonsai planter.
There are over 100 different bonsai trees in this collection, and the garden features them in an environment of beauty, with several poinds (one of which is quite large), a number of rhododendron (mid to late May, depending on the particular year, is a good time to visit while those are in bloom), very large tree snags (Bald Eagles like to visit from time to time) Japanese maple trees, and other appropriate plants.
If you go, don't miss that there are in fact several parts to the garden! Otherwise, the $8 entry fee is really going to seem like a poor deal. There are three sections - the main section featuring the bonsai, the sculpture garden (under complete reconstruction when I visited in May of 2010) and an outdoor area showcasing a few other plants.
NOTE: The address is Bremerton, but it is slightly closer to Port Orchard, and due to Highway 16 being a divided road here it is only possible to get to the shop from the Port Orchard direction. It is highly suggested that you not try walking from the nearest public transit in downtown Port Orchard. The walk isn't too far and basically level, but it is on narrow shoulders on very busy roads with fast traffic, and therefore not a pleasant place to walk, and not especially safe - though people do jog and ride their bikes there.
Hours are Tuesday through Sunday 10 to 5 during the warm months (April to October) and 10 to 5 on Friday through Sunday during the Winter (November through March).
Address: 3050 W. State Hwy 16, Bremerton, WA 98312
NOTE: The address is Bremerton, but it is slightly closer to Port Orchard, and due to Highway 16 being a divided road here it is only possible to get to the shop from the Port Orchard direction.