Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) will launch its annual Garden Tour at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 21, with an exclusive garden party, followed by a weekend full of walkabouts, wine tasting, lectures and art on Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23.
Northwest gardening legend, Ciscoe Morris, will give a lecture, “Gardening in the Time of Climate Change,” at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at VCA. The talk includes a beer and cider tasting, featuring beverages from Camp Colvos Brewing, Dragon’s Head Cider and Nashi Orchards.
Gardens will include:
VCA Ecology Field
Volunteers from Vashon Nature Center will be on hand for the unveiling of the field’s interpretive trail and to share information about island watersheds, native plants and species. They will also help attendees build bird or bat boxes. The field, which includes wetlands, is being restored as part of a new partnership between VCA and Vashon Nature Center.
Mary and Eric Walker’s garden is home to witch hazel and vine maples, with beds boasting a mix of ferns, heuchera and mahonia. A “secret sun garden” patio reveals an expansive view. Trails through the trees give visitors a chance to look up into the arms of the big leaf maples and the tangled limbs of tall cedars. Vashon-Maury Audubon will be in the garden to share information about the connections between native plants and birds. Representatives from the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club will also be on hand to explain the process of creating a Northwest Wildlife Federation-certified wildlife habitat — a designation the Walker garden has recently received.
Mukai Farm and Garden
A landmarked and National Register of Historic Places site, this farm and garden was built in the late 1920s. The property is a synthesis of cultural influences: the desire of Japanese immigrants in the early 20th century to embrace their new American citizenship, coupled with the desire to retain aspects of their Japanese heritage. The former is expressed by B.D. Mukai’s choice to build a traditional 1920s Craftsman-style house, fronted by a mowed lawn, American garden plantings and concrete sidewalks leading to the house. Surrounding the house, though, is a lovely Japanese stroll garden, which was once bordered by many cherry trees. The garden was designed by B.D.’s Japanese wife, Kuni Mukai.
Cathy Sarkowsky’s beach garden on Quartermaster Harbor is an artist’s dream, filled with vibrant colors and varied textures. At the entrance to the property, yellow twig dogwoods, mahonia and ferns set the tone. The east courtyard’s raised beds are filled with flowers throughout the spring and summer months. Shade-loving plants thrive in other areas, while sunny spots are home to bamboo and more raised beds for vegetables and herbs. The waterfront garden, with its bluestone terrace and masses of heather, perennials and ornamental grasses, is a favorite place to entertain. This drought-tolerant garden leaves Sarkowsky time to spend in her studio, which will be open to visitors during the weekend. Plein air painters will be at work in the garden.
This expansive Northwest style garden also overlooks Quartermaster Harbor. Woodland plants and ferns line paths that meander among Japanese maples, rhododendrons and hydrangeas. There is also an Asian-influenced hillside waterfall and pond. Sculptures by international and Washington state artists — including Julie Speidel, Dominic Benhura and Clare Dohna — accent the garden. Visitors should wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk on gentle slopes and stairs. Shuttle transportation to this garden will be provided; tour-goers should park on Dockton Road S.W. for a short walk or ride to the garden.
Javier Sotelo’s garden, developed over the course of 25 years, features interconnected ponds, dotted with water lilies and other plants. Colors explode from plantings of 500 dahlias, 300 lilies, tulips and other spring flowers, as well as magnolia trees with yellow, pink, white and purple blossoms. Forty fruit trees also grace the garden. The vegetable garden has 12 raised beds planted with a bounty of food that Sotelo shares through weekly donations to the Vashon Community Food Bank. Vashon master gardeners will be on site to share their knowledge.
Coinciding with the garden tour, “Tree,” a nature-inspired visual arts exhibition curated by Georgetown’s studio e gallery (which spells its name with lowercase letters) can be seen throughout the month at VCA. Free gallery tours with art writer Jim Demetre will take place at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 22.
— Elizabeth Shepherd