July 2020 Newsletter
The Bainbridge Public Library Fern Display Garden - Twenty Years and Counting
By John van den Meerendonk
Photographs by David Gibson
In February of 1999, the groundbreaking of the Fern Display garden began.  But this story actually began in 1996 with the complete reconstruction of the Bainbridge Library, which doubled its former size and provided a new modern library for the community. Bainbridge Island’s library is unique in that the Bainbridge Island community owns the Library building and grounds, is supported by volunteers and donations, and is part of the Kitsap Regional Library System.  Construction of the new library began in September of 1996 and opened on July 6th, 1997.  The library’s interior is decorated by beautiful artwork, through a coordinated effort with donations from many community artists. 
The library’s beauty is now complimented by three unique Gardens that surround the building.  In the spring of 1997 began the installation of the Haiku Japanese Garden on the south side of the library building. All the materials, the plants, the planning and outsourced inputs of this garden was a gift of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American community as a gesture of appreciation to the Bainbridge Island community and to honor their ancestors The Installation of the garden was done by community volunteers of which I was one of many. It was a wonderful community experience with as many as 50 volunteers showing up each day to create the Garden. I oversaw the installation of the extensive natural sandstone paving that traverses the space, cutting each piece to fit as a mosaic and supervising the installation.  It is a beautiful garden with large stone placements, sculptured trees and plants, pond and waterfall, setting the stage for the fourteen Haiku poems spread throughout the Garden. This garden was completed in time for the grand opening.  

In 1998, renown garden writer, guru and Bainbridge resident, Ann Lovejoy, lamented the sorry state of the library grounds other than the beautiful Haiku Garden on one side of the building.  She began recruiting garden volunteers into a group called the Friday Tidies, to install and maintain the mixed perennial beds that now encompass the Library’s main entrance, and the entire south side of the library surrounding the main parking area. Ten years later the Library doubled the south side parking area and Ann and the garden volunteers extended the mixed perennial borders around that area. All the plants were donated by volunteers and local nurseries. Today the Mixed Perennial Garden is a riot of texture, form and color that dazzles the eye and soothes the soul throughout the year. The Friday Tidies work every Friday morning, adding to, editing, and maintaining this much-loved garden and assisting in the maintenance of the Haiku and Fern Display Gardens.

The entire east side of the Library grounds was a neglected no man’s land of weeds, blackberry and brambles. A real sore spot between the library building and the adjacent Safeway grocery store. This side of the library also served as the lower level entrance to the Children’s library. The area encompassed a space approximately 400 feet long and 50 to 70 feet wide.  I was asked by the library staff and board what could be done with this space. Towering above the space are large Douglas Fir providing shade.  With the shade provided by the tall firs, I was able to see the potential for a fern garden. I was serving on the HFF board and knew that with my affiliation with HFF, I could realize this vision. Fellow HFF board members and Bainbridge Island residents, Anne Holt and Jack Doctor, provided whole-hearted assistance and support.  We first petitioned the HFF board’s support for this endeavor which we enthusiastically received. With a preliminary plan, we then went to the B.I. Library board of directors to present a proposal to establish a fern display garden. We received their permission to move ahead, for anything would be an improvement for this area.                                 

Beginning in February of 1999, with volunteers and my company’s landscape installation crew, the weeds, brambles and brush was cleared, chipped up and returned to the earth. Over the next few months my company installed the structure of the garden. First, we re-routed the existing bio-swale that receives storm water from the large south parking area, into a more meandering natural looking stream enhanced with bolder placements. We found out in our research that many ferns species work wonderfully in removing pollutants from storm runoff.  Paths were established, two bridges installed, construction of steps and rock walls flanking the entrance to the Children’s Library, small water feature, irrigation installation, soil preparation, planting of select trees and shrubs, and finally the design and construction of the rustic Gazebo that sits in the heart of the garden. Later that spring, on a Saturday, 500 ferns representing 50 species and varieties, were planted by volunteers from the community and members from the Hardy Fern Foundation.  Most of the ferns were donated by HFF and HFF members and from Sundquist Nursery from Poulsbo that specializes in growing ferns.

In 2000, the Bainbridge Public Library won first place as the most beautiful landscaped library in the U.S. sponsored by the Friends of the Libraries, U.S.A. and Storey Book Publishing.

It is hard to believe that twenty years have passed since the first fern plantings.  The fern collection has waned and grown through the years. The first fifteen years were difficult because of time consideration due to my involvement with my landscape design and build company.  Basic maintenance was about all we barely had time for.  The last few years, with the assistance of fellow HFF board member and B.I. resident Dave Gibson, the garden has been improving. Now retired, I also have more time to improve the growing conditions and to add to the fern collection. A beautifully grown mature fern species is a sight to behold and there are some beauties in the garden. Dave has 200 plus fern species and varieties in his personal garden which is a motivation for me. There are approximately 80 fern species and varieties now present and Dave and I have plans to significantly add to this collection and to make this a world renown fern display garden. Future plant labeling and continuing education are the next integral part of the ongoing plans.  There is space for growth. Happy fern gardening. 
What's Up With Facilities?
Prepping for the eagerly awaited reopening!
facilities repairs rock window
The BPL facilities team continues to work behind the scenes performing repairs and upgrades to the building.  

Even though the library is closed due to the pandemic we WILL all be together again, hopefully soon. To help us enjoy our treasured space even more we just completed a meeting room sound system upgrade to provide better coverage and more seating flexibility for meetings and videos (movies).

Also, over the last month BPL worked closely with our HVAC contractor and KRL staff to significantly improve the building's air filtration. This change, along with numerous health and safety related modifications to the building and procedures, will be apparent when we reopen to the public - following state guidelines.

Installed earlier this week are new booth cushions that should work much better than the previous ones.
facilities replacement
Have You Seen This Library?
If you’re a fan of the late Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone mysteries (A is for Alibi…), you will recognize this library. It is the Central Library of Santa Barbara Public Library, where Kinsey spent many hours doing research. Built in 1917, it has undergone several renovations., The City of Santa Barbara has had a public library since 1882 and the present building at the corner of Anacapa and Anapamu streets was built with a grant from the Carnegie Foundation. It was heavily damaged in an earthquake in 1925 then rebuilt and enlarged. The largest room of the library, the Faulkner Gallery, designed by architect Myron Hunt and built with the assistance of funds donated by Mary Faulkner Gould, was completed in 1930. It was Mrs. Gould's desire that a wing be added "to the present Free Public Library, suitable for the housing of books and other printed material related to art paintings, pictures, prints, and other forms of art, and the exhibition of the same." It was named in the memory of her sisters, the Misses Emily, Abby, and Ann Faulkner.
Books Worth Sharing!
by Tess Gerritsen
Shape of Night
By Tess Gerritsen

Escaping Boston and a tragedy for which she feels responsible, food writer Ava Collette rents an historic manse on the Maine coast for the summer. The house is fabulous, the view spectacular, and she feels instantly welcomed and at home, but rumor has it that the original owner, Captain Jeremiah Brodie, haunts the place. Moreover, she finds out that every woman who has ever lived in the place has died there under suspicious circumstances. Once Jeremiah’s ghost reveals himself, Ava is torn between attraction and fear. Is the ghost the killer or is there a living killer eager to add Ava to his list of victims? Reminiscent of Daphne DuMaurier and the historic Ghost and Mrs. Muir, this spine-tingling psychological thriller has just the right gothic notes to evoke a bit of fear and an unstoppable urge to read this in one sitting! Gerritsen’s books are always well written and hugely entertaining and this ranks among her very best.

~Susan Braun
One Call for All
A friendly reminder that the 2019/2020 One Call For All campaign will wrap up the end of July. If you'd like to make a donation to BPL for this year's campaign, we'd put your money to good use! As you may have noted in the message from the facilities committee, repairs and upgrades continue on the library building even while it has been closed. Your donations make it possible to keep the building in good shape. Thank you!
Friends of the Library Book Sales
Our book sales are temporarily suspended. Please stay tuned for notice of their return.
Did You Know?
  • Bainbridge Public Library, a separate nonprofit organization, owns, operates, and maintains the Library building and grounds through community donations and grants.
  • Kitsap Regional Library provides the library staff, collection, classes, and a virtual library at KRL.org with funding from property tax revenues.
  • Together we provide the quality library our community wants and has come to expect.
Be safe... Be well!
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