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Landscaper turned former abandoned shingle mill site into a gorgeous garden

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BELLINGHAM, Washington – If anyone wants to turn an abandoned and overgrown former mill site into a gorgeous commercial garden, they do well to first visit Dick and Jennie Bosch’s Glen Echo Garden to see how it is done. Located in the heart of an evergreen forest, landscaper Dick Bosch incorporated the site’s natural features to give their garden near Bellingham, a bustling city between Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, a very unique touch.

A landscaper for forty years, Bosch launched his biggest project after retiring from a hectic career in landscaping and garden centre retailing to develop a commercial garden, now six years ago. The 7-acre Glen Echo Garden offers visitors stunning sights in their theme gardens named Blue Garden, Gigantic Stump Garden, Rose Garden, English Garden, and Begonia & Fuschia Garden. A recent addition is the Natural Forest Garden and Mossy Garden, while a Japanese Garden is still a work in progress.

The Dutch-born couple who first met in nearby Lynden over fifty years ago, adds every year over 20,000 annuals to its range of perennials and flowering shrubs and trees, offering visitors a peaceful atmosphere as they meander down walkways, past fountains, through arches and along flowerbeds filled with unique shrubs and trees and bright colours. Tables, chairs and benches, scattered throughout the Gardens, give visitors – individuals or groups - a chance to sit down and enjoy the quiet beauty of the surroundings.


Each theme garden offers unique impressions but the Gigantic Stump Garden has by far the most interesting story to tell. Several of its century-old stumps are the fertile base of new towering trees. Curious how old the stumps themselves were, Dick Bosch asked experienced loggers for their age. The two foresters concluded independently from each other that the giant would have been around 775 – 790 years when they were cut down, about eight feet above the ground back in the early 1900s.

The Gooding Shingle Mill operated on the property after the Glen Echo Coalmine – the origin of the garden’s name - shut down following an explosion, which claimed the life of a miner. While clearing his newly acquired, but overgrown property in the early 1970s, his first attempt at creating a garden there, Bosch found all sorts of abandoned tools on the site. These are now displayed at Glen Echo Garden’s own museum, an interesting sideshow few would expect at a place extolling garden design and flora. That’s not all. A century-old outhouse found on the property was found to have stored for decades a forgotten box with cancelled payroll cheques, worth amounts such as $2.73.

An energetic man, Dick Bosch relies only on a very small crew for help to maintain the garden. Another much appreciated personal touch Bosch offers is a little known Rumanian style panflute, which he gets out to give mini-concerts to groups visiting the Glen Echo Garden.

It is a well-known fact that gardens are favoured locations for wedding shoots. Glen Echo Garden not only accommodates wedding photography but also can host the entire ceremony in open air or in specially arranged tents. Although closed on Sundays, the Bosch’s do allow church groups to use his garden for services and sing-along events.