ENVIRONMENTAL HORTICULTURE CENTER
Sustaining the Future of Bloedel Reserve
150 acres. 2 miles of trails. 23 curated gardens and cultivated Pacific Northwest landscapes. Bloedel Reserve is an immense and impressive natural resource, given to the public by Prentice and Virginia Bloedel in 1988 that we have the honor to protect and preserve… today, tomorrow, always. The stewardship required to keep the Reserve growing — with horticultural excellence and environmental integrity — can only happen if the right resources are in place.
The Environmental Horticulture Center (EHC) is a planned, multiphase project that will provide much needed modernization to the “back of the house” buildings and systems that serve all aspects of Bloedel Reserve’s conservation mission. In addition to exponentially improving our tools for the day-to-day care of the grounds, the EHC will be a valuable learning lab for horticultural research and sustainability practices. Simply put, the EHC is essential to our promise to keep this priceless community resource thriving for generations to come.
A Humble Beginning
Nothing that grows at Bloedel Reserve does so without the help of our team of horticulturists, expert grounds crew, and passionate volunteers.
The future of this amazing place is literally in their hands. Having well-equipped facilities and tools for maintaining and expanding the trails, landscapes, and gardens is more than a nice idea. It’s a necessity.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that, at present, the horticultural magic at Bloedel Reserve begins in the humblest of places — a hodgepodge of antiquated barns once used to house sheep. It is there that our talented team has been leading the way with its organic composting practices and cutting-edge botanical research.
But time has taken its toll, and these modest facilities are at the end of their useful life. Replacing the main building and refurbishing other structures have become urgent priorities.
A Home for the Future
The Environmental Horticulture Center will be a collection of buildings and systems that serve all aspects of Bloedel Reserve’s conservation mission. The EHC project will include:
- New composting facility
- New greenhouse
- New shade house
- Remodeled and expanded maintenance building for equipment and tools
- New staff offices
- Horticultural training center
- Comprehensive site and structure upgrades
These improvements will help us more effectively care for the Reserve today, while providing the resources we need to sustain this remarkable place well into the future.
Sustainable at Every Level
Every aspect of the EHC will embody our commitment to environmental consciousness, starting with the green practices we’ll employ in the EHC design and construction. For example, we’re choosing to upgrade rather than raze and replace several existing structures, extending their useful lives while minimizing material consumption. And solar panels will grace the staff building roof, powering much of the EHC’s electrical needs.
Green Today, Greener Tomorrow
The very first phase of the EHC will be the creation of a new composting facility. Strategically shifting away from pesticides for the past 15 years, we have successfully kept plant disease at bay by relying almost exclusively on a robust composting program. The EHC composting facility will let us continue these clean landscaping practices with an improved closed-loop system and the ability to scale our composting operations over time.
We Are What We Grow
The heart of Bloedel Reserve is its astonishing variety of healthy trees and plants. The expansive new greenhouse and shade house will dramatically improve our ability to cultivate and protect the exceptional array of curated plant stock that is continuously on view, season to season and year to year. And much of the work that emerges from the EHC will also benefit gardens – and gardeners – in our region and beyond.
Discoveries Move Us Forward
It was the Bloedel Reserve horticultural team that first spotted evidence of sudden oak death on our grounds. Since then, Bloedel Reserve has served as a primary site for USDA-funded research that explores the destructive effects of Phytophthora ramorum (or “ramorum blight”). The new EHC horticulture pathology lab will equip Bloedel researchers with the tools they need to find ways to protect the many plant species affected by this invasive, devastating disease.
A Place for People to Grow Too
Thanks to the new EHC, present and future horticulture staff, groundskeepers, interns and volunteers will finally have the spaces they need to thrive and grow. Proper offices (not “temporary” trailers), lockers, showers, meeting rooms. Places to teach and learn, to dream and to plan. Roomy, comfortable, and welcoming – just like Bloedel Reserve itself.
The Case for Support Right Now
We have a challenge grant of $675K to raise by year-end that is specifically earmarked for the Environmental Horticulture Center. Meeting this challenge will allow us to begin the first of the EHC’s four major capital improvements — constructing a more ecologically efficient compost facility. Every gift made by December 31, 2019 moves us closer toward this ambitious and important goal.