Posted by: marymarthatours | September 8, 2012

A Fun Day of Gardens, Quilts, and Shaker Items


Martha at the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Several weeks ago on a glorious Saturday, my husband Collie and I headed to Bellevue, Washington, east of Seattle. This day of adventure was my birthday gift from Collie, and we saved it for a sunny Northwest day with light traffic.


Bellevue Botanical Garden entrance

We spent several hours in the morning at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. A visit there had been recommended to me by a member of my small garden club. Its beginnings date from 1947 when Cal and Harriet Shorts purchased 7.5 acres and built their Japanese style home and tranquil gardens. In 1980 they gave their home and gardens to the City of Bellevue which has added to the property and maintains it as part of the city park system.


Scenes from two of the gardens

The garden, now 53 acres, is composed of numerous themed gardens. We did not see all of them, but particularly enjoyed the following: alpine rock garden, water-wise garden, perennial border, Yao garden of Japanese style, and the native discovery garden. Art students where painting throughout the garden, capturing in various styles the beauty of nature.


Artist in the garden


I kept thinking, “Why do I go all the way to England to enjoy gardens when there is one so lovely and varied, an easy drive from my home?” And the fact that it was a season of the year when so many plants were in bloom and the sun was shining forth and temperature cool and comfortable made the garden experience all the more wonderful. Plus it was great to share it with Collie, seen here in the garden.


After lunch we headed to the Bellevue Art Museum. Currently there are two exhibits with focuses that grab me. And Collie is right with me with an equal level of interest and appreciation.

We first viewed the display of African American Quilts from the collection of Corrine Riley. Riley has an arts background and has collected bold African American quilts from throughout the Southeast and Texas. These quilts are masterful pieces in terms of the uses of color and texture. Most are very asymmetrical and abstract, made from recycled fabrics and scraps with very primitive stitching and rough workmanship. Yet the results are stunning. At the last quilt museum the two of us visited together in Lancaster, PA, the quilts were quite the opposite in terms of construction skills and design. Both showings were so different from each other and both were wonderful to experience and enjoy. We played the family game of picking out our favorite quilt and liked the other’s choice in addition to our number one. “You must take one home, which one do you want?”


Collie choosing “his” quilt.  Which one do you like?

Next we went to another floor of the museum to view the exhibit of Shaker items from the Andrews collection. Starting in the 1930’s Faith and Edward Andrews began to collect a wide range of Shaker community items, furniture, textiles, tools, drawings and household objects. The exhibit includes over 200 items from their vast collection. The descriptive write-ups with the items helped us better understand the beliefs and life of the Shaker community. The Andrews collection is “the most comprehensive collection of 19th and early 20th century Shaker materials”. We were in awe and felt privileged to see the exhibit and gain more understanding and admiration for the accomplishments and dedication of this communal society. Even as the Shaker faith community is dying out, they have left a lasting imprint on American history and design. It truly is a gift to be simple and pure. Sadly one is not allowed to take photographs of this exhibit, so you will just have to imagine the loveliness. You can see some of the items here.

It was a day of three fabulous experiences and three topics that I greatly enjoy. And for dinner on the drive home we stopped at another fun, favorite restaurant, The Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma. What a special day, and all in our home territory.

(by Martha)



  1. Sounds like a wonderful day! Thanks for sharing. I’m fondly remembering where we were a year ago now.

  2. The Rhody garden near the Werehauser Headquarters is gorgeous in May. They have a field of blue poppies and a Victorian “stumpery”. We are blessed!

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