Head out on a Hoot Hunt this fall (then return for Winter Wonder!)

Bloedel Reserve welcomes the community to experience year-round conservation in action

One of the best things about the Pacific Northwest is the opportunity to get outside and explore year-round. From October’s changing leaves and colorful harvests to crisp December days that bring intricate frost patterns and a satisfying “crunch” as we walk the trails, this cooler season has a lot to recommend it!

It’s also a reminder that while things may slow down in our gardens and forests, there’s still a lot of activity, if you know where to look…

This season, the Bloedel Conservatory celebrates all things outdoors with several special events – reminders of the importance both of protecting and preserving these spaces, and of nurturing ourselves within them, explains Becky Walliman, Bloedel’s Director of Development and Communications.

“We believe time outside is very good for us and is essential for our well-being,” Walliman says, noting that all their events support Bloedel’s four pillars: Horticulture and Design, Conservation and Stewardship, Creativity and Inspiration, Nature and Well-Being. “There’s something different in every season at the reserve and so much to explore and experience.”

Oh, and we’ll have lots of fun along the way, too!

An October Hoot Hunt

Mild winter temperatures mean wildlife is active year-round, and how better to celebrate that than with a Hoot Hunt, Oct. 1 to 30?

Woodland owls, hand-crafted by the Bloedel team, lead visitors on an all-ages scavenger hunt through the gardens in search of gourds, squash and pumpkins. How many can you spot?

Be sure to keep count, but as a hint: This year’s answer is less than 100. Due to the long, wet spring and short, hot summer, Bloedel’s crop produced far less than hoped, notes Philip Bloomquist, Nursery and Propagation Specialist and “Gourd Guru.”

“Pumpkins, squash and gourds usually grow well for us but they like hot weather; with the cold wet spring the vines either rotted or languished before the warm summer, leading to a very low harvest.”

The good news is there’s still lots of fun to be had! As you explore, snap a photo of yourself having a hoot with the friendly garden guides, guess the weight of the largest pumpkin at the Residence, and win prizes at the Shop at the Gatehouse when you complete the scavenger hunt.

Celebrate Winter Wonder

Step away from the hectic holiday rush and celebrate the season with a restorative walk in nature and all-ages scavenger hunt designed to create wonder at every turn. Bloedel’s fun and festive Winter Wonder returns Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, a chance to celebrate the joy of being outside as you try to spot all the delightful, handcrafted woodland creatures along the way, many made by teens at the BARN – the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network.

“It’s just delightful and fun for the whole family,” Walliman says.

Additional special events for the holiday season include a kid-friendly activity led by KiDiMu Dec. 10 and limited-capacity Solstice Walks – including two shorter routes for families (Dec. 19 and 22) and two longer, silent meditative walks Dec. 20 and 21).

Participants will stroll the gardens after dark, with lanterns lighting the way. “It’s a chance to appreciate and reflect on the solstice and enjoy the magic of the reserve at night,” Walliman says.

To experience the Reserve in person this fall and winter, purchase your timed tickets at bloedelreserve.org/tickets.

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