A garden with history
What: Glen Echo Garden
Where: 4390 Y Rd.
WHEN: 10am-8pm, Mon.-Sat.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Six miles east of Bellingham, history and landscape art come together at the Glen Echo Garden.
Forty-four years ago, Dick Bosch purchased a cut-over gully where a coal mine once operated and, later, a shingle mill. He fell in love with the enormous stumps, Anderson Creek, and the wildflowers that flourished in the leftover slash from logging and mining.
Weekdays, Bosch operated his landscaping company and a greenhouse supplying bedding plants and hanging baskets to florists and grocery stores. But weekends and evenings, he would drive his bulldozer to carve paths and clear meadows. He preserved the massive stumps of red cedars that “nurse” full-grown trees on top.
Sixteen years ago, he began planting ornamental shrubs and trees. He laid out seven acres of gardens: the blue, rose, begonia and fuchsia garden, the mossy and Japanese. He has opened it up for flower-lovers, weddings and celebrations.
The garden preserves logging saws and other artifacts of older times. The Glen Echo Coal Co. operated southeast of the property until 1933, when a mine explosion caused numerous deaths.
Another former owner was the Gooding Shingle Company, which manufactured shingles during the housing boom of the 1920s. A collection of cancelled checks found in a steel box records transactions ranging from $1.61 to $32.54.
At one point, the highway department wanted to widen and pave the old Mt. Baker Highway, which then ran through the property, but met with Bosch’s firm refusal.
Visitors to Glen Echo Gardens now descend through the fern garden. If you’re uncertain of foot, Bosch will drive you down and up again in his four-wheeler. Enter the blue garden—the rarest floral shade—and wander through seven acres of themed plantings.
Bosch says the English garden was the most difficult to design as he doesn’t like the straight lines it requires. His daughter, Kaylene, helped him.
Visitors wander along walkways, under arches and pass fountains and blooming annuals transplanted from his commercial greenhouses. A silver fern sets off the deep-magenta leaves of a Japanese maple. Lantana, impatiens and marigolds encircle a 700-year-old red cedar stump that, in turn, is capped by a 100-year-old Douglas fir.
This is an intensive-care project for Bosch, and getting good help has always been a problem. He avoids herbicides, so weed control is a laborious job, accomplished by young workers with hoes.
Before Bosch offers you a ride back to the parking lot, you might ask him to serenade you with his Romanian pan flute—and ask where he learned to play it.
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