Kitsap Peninsula Spotlight: Elandan Gardens

You’ve never seen anything like the Kitsap Peninsula’s Elandan Gardens, home of Dan Robinson’s extraordinary collection of more than 200 bonsai trees.

Here, beauty is found in the twisted, gnarled, aged and distressed, as with this Alpine Hemlock that dates back to the year 1300.

Robinson is part gardener, part sculptor, carving, hollowing, training and wiring to achieve his desired effect. He collected this Mountain Hemlock on the slopes of Mt. Baker in 1995 and thinks it’s more than 250 years old.

Wide gravel paths lead past stone monoliths, tree snags and driftwood that echo and reflect the sculptural nature of the bonsai. Rhododendrons, azaleas and Japanese Maples provide pops of color.

To create the garden, Robinson and his wife, Diane, reclaimed a former landfill, hauling in 30,000 cubic yards of sandy soil and 800 tons of boulders.

They created a naturalistic setting that includes a pond and waterfalls.

The showplace opened in the fall of 1994 and attracts visitors from around the world.

Elandan’s Sinclair Inlet location is idyllic. Wander through on a sunny day and you’ll likely be cooled by a sea breeze. Eagles and osprey are frequent visitors.

If you come across Dan Robinson tending his trees, he’ll likely give you a lesson in how to pronounce bonsai. It’s bone sigh, not banzai, and literally means “tree in a pot.”

Check out the garden’s store for interesting treasures from around the world. Also on site is the sculpture studio of the Robinsons’ son, Will, whose work is currently featured in the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and will be shown at Seattle’s Foster/White Gallery in July.

Come see for yourself: The garden is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays May through October and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays November through April.

Address: 3050 West State Highway 16, Bremerton, WA, click here for a map and directions

Admission: $8 per person, $1 for children ages 6 to 12, free for children age 5 and younger

But wait, there’s more! In addition to Elandan, the Kitsap Peninsula region is home to two more world-class gardens – Heronswood and the Bloedel Reserve, as well as more than a dozen spectacular nurseries. Download our new garden and nursery guide, then plan your trip at VisitKitsap.com, where you’ll find lodging ideas and everything you need to know for a memorable getaway to the Natural Side of Puget Sound.

About the Author:

Terri Gleich is a freelance writer, who loves to run, bike, hike and paddle on the Kitsap Peninsula.

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