Located on Bainbridge Island in Kitsap County, Washington, Bainbridge Gardens is a six-acre historic garden facility offering a plant nursery, cafe, and children’s play area. The history of Bainbridge Gardens traces back to the personal garden of Zenhichi Harui, who relocated to the Island from Japan in 1908 and created a small flower collection of native and non-native plants.
Throughout the following decades, Harui’s garden grew to include a variety of sculpted trees, along with pools filled with fish and decorative fountains. The garden was opened for public exploration during the 1930s but deserted during World War II when Harui’s family was forced to leave the country as a result of Japanese-American internment.
Though some care for the gardens was sustained throughout the war internment period, the Harui family returned to find the garden overgrown, which resulted in a split partnership to restore and operate the facility with the Island’s Seko family. In 1957, Harui partnered with John Nakata to building a Town and Country Market building on the property’s eastern section, with an official public Harui Gardens constructed on its western half as a produce gardens and nursery facility that served as the island’s first florist. The facility was redeveloped as Bainbridge Gardens in 1989 by Harui’s son Junkoh, who replenished and rehabilitated the property’s historic Japanese red pine trees.
Today, Bainbridge Gardens is owned and operated as a six-acre nursery and public garden facility on Bainbridge Island, offering tourist experiences for visitors and a variety of nature educational public programming. As a family-owned company, the garden center is located on a historic site within the Bainbridge Island community which celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2018. The center’s “Going Green” program is committed to environmentally-friendly policies, including the banning of harmful chemical use and research into sustainable alternatives, which has helped the facility emerge as a regional leader in teaching customers natural methods of garden care.
The six-acre facility offers a variety of attractions for visitors, including three greenhouse facilities stocked with a wide variety of plants for sale and display. The site’s west greenhouse stands 16 by 75 feet, while its east greenhouse stands 22 by 66 feet, with many original and historic elements of the facilities still intact. The middle greenhouse offers a covered and heated dining patio for the center’s New Rose Café, which offers espresso, light lunch fare, and desserts such as cookies and milkshakes. Food and beverages from the cafe may be consumed on site at the restaurant or patio or may be carried throughout the facility’s greenhouses and other attractions while shopping.
A Harui Memorial Garden is showcased within the facility’s garden areas, honoring the Japanese-Americans who were placed in internment camps during World War II. The 55-by-55-foot garden showcases plants native to the early Northwest Japanese landscape, including a Japanese-style garden featuring a trellis gateway, miniature waterway, and bridge. Plants highlighted in the garden include bonsai pine trees, a d’Anjou pear topiary, and the remnants of two red pine trees originally planted by Harui when he arrived on the island. Elements of the garden’s pre- and post-WWII landscape are emphasized to pay tribute to the actions committed against Japanese Americans during the war and the garden’s recovery following Harui’s return.
The facility’s Garden Center Store offers a wide variety of plants, produce, and farm goods for sale, including fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. Annuals, perennials, and house plants are available for purchase in season, along with a wide variety of home goods and gifts, including candles, greeting cards, and pottery. A children’s play area is also offered for young visitors and families, located near the Memorial Garden.
Ongoing Programs and Events
Public programming is offered at the center on a regular basis, including family gardening and nature workshops and seminars and events with guest speakers. Adult workshops include beekeeping, landscaping, composting, and lawn and soil care courses, while family workshops emphasize hands-on activities to get young participants excited about gardening, nutrition, and environmental care. All courses are taught by certified professionals and center experts, emphasizing sustainable, environmentally-friendly tips and techniques. Many classes offer special offers on garden center merchandise for participants, including discounts on tools necessary to complete class activities and take-home plant offers. Other public special events include seminars, lectures, and special event courses taught by local gardening experts and public personalities, including nature writers and television and radio personalities. The center’s Reforest America One Backyard at a Time program also aims to reforest the Pacific Northwest through the planting of a tree for every child born on Bainbridge Island, offering a western red cedar, douglas fir, or hemlock tree planting in exchange for proof of birth certificate.
9415 Miller Rd NE, Bainbridge Island, WA, Phone: 206-842-5888