The Betz garden is in harmony with nature (Courtesy Photo)

The Betz garden is in harmony with nature (Courtesy Photo)

HOME & GARDEN: Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club recognizes ‘artists of the land’ each year


Gardeners are their own breed of artists. We use the canvas of the land to sculpt and paint with the colors and textures of nature. We dig and plant, water and shape until our portrait is complete. Well actually, it’s never finished, but we keep coming back each year to make it bigger, better, brighter. Gardening is a special kind of art. A love of the dirt.

The small Garden Award Committee of the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club searches each year to dig up these hidden artists, to recognize them and share them with the public.

To be considered for an award, gardeners cannot be club members and must do at least 80 percent of the garden maintenance. Both residential and commercial gardens are recognized for their contribution to this artistic community.

Javier Sotelo – Granja de los Pinos (Pines Farm)

Breathtaking is the only word to describe this Spring Beach retreat. Quietly tucked into a woodsy 7½ acres, Javier Sotelo has been creating his secluded garden for over 25 years. The centerpiece of the garden, a lovely pond, is surrounded by lush natural shrubs and unusual species plants. As people stroll through the grounds, they will enjoy a rose garden, a collection of dahlias, a raised vegetable garden, Javier’s friendly chickens and pet lama.

The centerpiece of Javier Sotelo’s garden is a pond surrounded by lush shrubs and species plants. (Courtesy Photo)

The centerpiece of Javier Sotelo’s garden is a pond surrounded by lush shrubs and species plants. (Courtesy Photo)

A large covered patio for dining al fresco and the soon-to-be-completed pickle court complete Javier’s private oasis.

Scott & Lisa Betz

The romance and history of this garden rests in every light and shadow. Here the playthings of childhood have now blended artfully into the landscape, capturing time and memories of 36 years and three generations. A swing set, treehouse and sandbox have become the backdrops to ferns, hydrangeas and perennial flowers. The Betz are happy to share their garden with Tahlequah’s forest creatures, and this has inspired a garden that is in harmony with nature. As guests walk the garden paths, they find hidden pieces of Lisa’s tile artistry, creating a whimsical feel.

Joe & Synthia Downs

Not too far from Vashon town, the giant birch trees, picturesque grape vines and timeless orchard set the tone of a well established and gently cared for garden. Step through the wooden gate into a paradise of charming garden rooms and stunning beauty. As a traveling sprinkler tosses water on an immense lawn you are drawn into the sounds of birds, the fragrance of flowers, and the beauty of nature. Red twig dogwoods line the drive and frame the family fire pit. Most stunning is an old storage shed that has become the background of climbing vines and lends a nostalgic feel of a simpler time.

Tom & Mary Langland

The Langlands are all about family and community, and their garden rings true. Many of their treasured plants were gifts now grown into beautiful trees, unusual bonsai and unique shrubs. Flowering dogwoods and species maples sprinkle the landscape with seasonal color on this secluded Paradise Valley garden. A rose covered arbor welcomes you to the courtyard entrance to their home where friends and family can relax or tuck into Mary’s secret reading garden. The adventurous might choose to stroll through the playful fairy garden, especially designed for grand kids, or play in the horseshoe pit. Anyway you look at it, it’s family fun all the way.

The Lodges on Vashon

This team of Scott Shapiro and Jena Thornton with Jil Stenn, landscape designer, has created a beautiful and healing retreat place to gather: A garden designed with the planting framework of an evergreen “backbone.” Layers of color and textured foliage, bark, berries and flowers create a landscape that suits the modern aesthetic of The Lodges. They have utilized native plants and plants that are deer resistant, drought hardy, and planted for seasonal interest. Fragrant plants have been located next to entries and high-use outdoor areas. The Lodges on Vashon beautifully represents Vashon town businesses.

The Lodges showcase native, deer-resistant plants with layers of color and texture. (Courtesy Photo)

The Lodges showcase native, deer-resistant plants with layers of color and texture. (Courtesy Photo)

— Deborah Richards is president of the Vashon Maury Island Garden Club.

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