Put on your walking shoes: It’s time for a stroll through the five exceptional landscapes selected for this year’s Vashon Allied Arts’ Garden Tour.
The tour, now in its 23rd year, takes place this weekend, and organizers are hoping for sunny skies and moderate temps — big draws for an event that is budgeted to bring in about $40,000 for the arts organization.
But as always, the tour is being billed as a feast for the senses, filled with beautiful vistas and the fragrent scents of many blooms that are sure to delight visitors, rain or shine.
There will be food for thought, too, during the tour — a total of 15 talks by experts will take place in the gardens throughout the weekend, with subjects ranging from tips on building rockeries to how to capture gorgeous flora on film. One talk, given by James Ullrich, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited, will be, quite literally, about the birds and the bees, while author Terry Hershey will share his insights into how to create meditation spots in gardens.
Visual art will also be on display. Sculptural garden art by Penny Grist, Brian Brenno, Gregory Burnham, Brian Fisher, Mike Urban and Barbara Wells has been tucked into some of the terrain on the tour. Tile art by David Blad and Mary Lynn Buss will also grace gardens, and Paula Allegrini and Sylivija Plaza will exhibit wood works and glass tables, respectively. Other art will include Shannon Buckner’s blacksmith floral works and Charlotte Masi’s painted gourds.
A garden market will feature the work of more than 20 artists and craftspeople, offering garden sculpture, tile work, glass, soaps, garden tools and more.
The real stars of the tour, of course, will be the five resplendent grounds on display.
Humble Bumble Farm
Cindy Ward’s Humble Bumble Farm includes an eclectic mix of fragrant lavender gardens, a working farm and even a “secret” garden. The front garden features more than 200 Provence “Intermedia Grosso” lavender plants that paint the slope leading to the front pasture. The secret garden, planted 14 years ago on a former horse pasture, brims with many varieties of vegetables, shrubs and flowers and features several archways with climbing perennials. A Tudor style redwood greenhouse is used to create a warm winter environment to start seedlings and cultivate gardenia and orchids. The remainder of the property provides pastures for chickens, horses, cows and goats.
Steve and Cindy Stockett’s Froggsong garden is located within a 17-acre property and includes a mix of defined, structured areas softened by the casual disorder of perennial cottage gardening — a style the Stockett’s call “Northwest Formal.” Visitors can explore a rose pergola, a roundel garden in pale yellow and blue motif, an English knot garden, an alpine garden and a tranquil pond. Another garden area, added in 2012, includes a passageway punctuated with stone cairns, a wind garden and a labyrinth.
The garden will be featured on the cover of the July/August issue of Fine Gardening Magazine.
Ron Gawith and Linda Weiss moved to their property in 2004 and began to embellish a sunny, five-acre blank slate. They focused on drought tolerant, textured plants and their favorite silver-green color palate. Gawith said he has enjoyed creating levels and garden rooms that provide a flow for the couple’s indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Rounding out the property is a lawn, a meandering drought-tolerant garden of grasses and sedums, a small greenhouse, a wood-fired pizza oven and a row of fig trees that provide a favorite pizza topping.
Chuck and Nancy Roehm began to plant their garden shortly after they moved to their home 20 years ago. It features Northwest favorites, rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas. The Roehms recently designed and installed a flagstone patio area in their sunny backyard. Colorful annuals, Northwest natives, ceanothus and rock roses give the property a Mediterranean ambience. Nancy, a math teacher, incorporated geometric elements into the gardens: an octagonal stamped-concrete driveway inset, a double-arched cedar gate and a second cedar gate with a hexagonal design.
The garden of Miles Small and Kerri Goodman-Small is a five-acre oasis designed for both peaceful contemplation and dynamic outdoor entertainment. Starting with a challenging “bowling alley” shaped space, the couple transformed the landscape into an inviting garden with a natural rock waterfall and pond, indigenous low maintenance plantings, fireplaces and layered decks.
The Garden Tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets, $25, are good for both days and include admission to all the gardens and talks. They can be purchased at Vashon Allied Arts, Heron’s Nest, www.vashonalliedarts.org and many island businesses. The tour will kick off with a sunset gala at 6 p.m. Friday night, an exclusive affair that includes a catered dinner and live entertainment in a waterfront garden. A few tickets, $125, may still be available for that event — call 463-5131 to find out. Complete Garden Tour information is available at www.vashonalliedarts.org.