Lifestyle

Stop and smell the roses on Vashon's Garden Tour

Bea Johnson lingers on a path in her garden, which is featured in this year
Bea Johnson lingers on a path in her garden, which is featured in this year's Garden Tour.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A bounty of bucolic blooms, inspired artwork, live music and informative workshops will all come together later this month as part of Vashon Allied Arts’ 19th annual Garden Tour.

The tour, slated for Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29, will showcase six Island gardens and include special events, performances and opportunities to shop for art and garden-related gifts.

There will also be art scattered like jewels amid the foliage, with works including fused glass by Brian Brenno and Kasia Stahancyk, glass and steel flowers by Mike Urban, steel sculpture by Steve Zartman and David Erue, mosaics by Clare Dohna, totems by Dean Hammer and mixed media works by Robert Fairfax.

The gardens, however, are the real stars of the tour.

According to Janice Randall, VAA’s director of performing arts and communications, each garden is unique.

“Every year, the tour is so different,” she said. “I always leave with new inspiration.”

The Driscoll garden

Dick and Pam Driscoll’s garden was a two-acre sheep pasture only a few years ago. Now, according to tour organizers, the garden is an expanse of lawns, stone walls, stairways, a fruit orchard and densely packed beds filled with vegetables, perennials, shrubs and trees. The garden is situated to show off panoramic views of Quartermaster Harbor and the Olympics. Guided tours are scheduled for both days of the tour at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The Jack garden

David and Gigi Jack’s garden has been a work in progress since the couple purchased their property in 2004 and discovered a professionally landscaped site needing extensive restoration and redesign.

The garden now features a sculpted seating area, winding garden paths, a fragrant herb garden and an expansive landscape of drought-tolerant perennials, hardy rhododendrons, arctic willow, barberry and cistus.

The Arioso Trio will play light classical music in the garden from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Serendipity, a violin group, will perform in the garden from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The McKelvey/Johnson garden

Mike McKelvey and Bea Johnson’s garden “brims with personality,” according to tour organizers, and shows off the couple’s creative approach to the challenges posed by a multi-level lot. The garden, laced with intricate, stone-lined paths, features a rose and wisteria-lined entrance, an intimate shade garden and a natural glen filled with maple trees, ferns and snowberry bushes. A terraced hillside, capturing sweeping views of Puget Sound, completes the landscape design.

Backroads, an ensemble of Island musicians, will play on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. The McKelvey/Johnson garden will also be the site of the Garden Market, featuring plants and locally made crafts.

The Ellis garden

Bob and Carol Ellis have been sculpting their garden since 1989, transforming a plot with scant landscaping into a space filled with ferns, salal and fringecup tucked under towering hemlock, cedar and fir trees. Multiple Japanese maples and an evergreen hedge of Oregon grape, primroses, bleeding hearts and irises also thrive in the garden, and birds, including pileated woodpeckers, Western tanagers and barred owls frequent a man-made woodland stream. Multiple birdfeeders attract other winged visitors.

The Riehl garden

Tour organizers have billed Pat and Walt Riehl’s garden the “largest, privately owned stumpery in the United States, a garden of fairytale magic, rich in pre-historic plants with oversized leaves and bold textures.”

The Riehls have recycled more than 100 stumps, rescued from local construction sites, and turned them upside down to create a 12,000-square-foot garden in a ravine. The garden, designed in 2007 by British fern expert Martin Rickard, features 11 tree ferns and 75 types of ferns.

Visitors can learn more about stumperies, a concept that dates back to the Victorian era, during guided tours on both days of the tour at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The Garrett/Anderson garden

For 20 years, Diana Garrett and Nicholas Anderson have sculpted their three-acre garden, incorporating plants, including native huckleberries, currants, elderberries, Nootka roses, skunk cabbages, sword fern and cattails. Sixty Japanese maples also grace the garden, as does a “maple arc,” comprised of rescued maple trees. A pond, trellises, bridges and a large feeding station round out the landscape.

Harpist Leslie McMichael will play in the garden on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.

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