If you were going to choose one place in the West where people live to garden, Bainbridge Island would be it. The 32-square-mile island in Puget Sound is just a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle, but a world away in spirit.
Here is an entire community of people who have organized their lives to get their hands dirty: The Boeing senior manager who cultivates huckleberries for pie, the lawyer who traded dockets for a garden supply company, and the Nordstrom exec who weeds lavender for his weekend gig as co-owner of Frog Rock Lavender Farm.
As some Bainbridge residents describe it, the island's love for gardening almost blindsided them. Linda Cochran was a lawyer when she arrived here. She found herself spending more and more time in the garden and, finally, walked away from her career.
For a while she ran a well-regarded nursery called Froggy Bottom, then realized that was a sidetrack too. Now she maintains one of the most beautiful private gardens anywhere. "I'm just a passionate amateur gardener," she admits, "so that's what I do now."
Size: 32 sq. mi.
People: 22,200 (2005)
Median age: 42 (2002)
Private boats: 1,438 (2005)
Density: 1.1 people per acre
Average annual precipitation: 54 in.
Average April high/low: 59°/41°
Who was here: Native Americans, who incised a petroglyph at Agate Point between 1000 B.C. and A.D. 500; George Vancouver, first European to set foot on Bainbridge, in 1792
Home prices (2005):
Low: $38,000 (houseboat)
High: $3 million (5,324-sq.-ft., 5-bedroom, 6½-bath house)