Arts & Entertainment Community

Garden Tour’s six stops will provide a seed of inspiration

Posted on June 22nd, 2023 By:

Since 1998, the Gig Harbor Garden Tour has showcased some of the area’s most unique, inspiring gardens.

The six gardens in this weekend’s tour reflect the unique tastes and passions of their creators. They include a garden that doubles as a gallery of the owner’s extensive art collection and a quiet retreat nestled at the edge of a woodland.

The self-guided tour is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 24; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 25.

Tour tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at several local businesses. Find a list here. Tickets are also available for purchase at Garden 1, ­ 6201 Reid Road.

English country garden

The tour begins at the Reid Road garden of Nathan and Michelle Kice. Nathan inherited the home a few years ago and has turned the back yard into a space reminiscent of an English country garden. Kice said he transformed the space from “no maintenance” to “high maintenance.”

It’s filled with perennials like oakleaf, lace cap and mop top hydrangeas; hostas; peonies; knifophia; day lilies; columbine; Japanese maples and other beauties.

Glass art and peonies in the Kice garden.

Look for the yellow foxtail lily (Eremurus stenophyllus) in the border alongside the house. Kice lets the tall, cone-shaped flowers go to seed and they become sculptural art elements.

In the back yard, the metal raised beds overflow with leafy greens, climbing peas, onions and other edibles. A nearby section holds a veritable fruit salad of berries.

People taking the tour can buy tickets at this garden.

Garden wonderland

Craig and Diane Brown have been creating their garden wonderland for at least 30 years. It features a series of “rooms,” each entered through a blossom-laden arbor and filled with whimsical objects and comfortable chairs ready to welcome anyone who wants to come and sit with a book and a cup of tea.

Old advertising signs, stained glass windows and rusty tools become art objects and add personality to the setting, and there are many grandkid-friendly touches ­– a swing set guarded by gnomes, a playhouse, and a firepit surrounded by giant concrete footprints that represent family members.

Craig and Diana Brown’s garden wonderland.

Hydrangeas, clematis, wisteria, snowball viburnum, dahlias and other perennials thrive in this well-established garden and there are many unique container plantings filled with lilies, geraniums and other annuals. Several raised beds hold an abundance of vegetables and fruits destined for the kitchen.

Craig Brown recently retired from his longtime job as swim coach at a local high school, and, in keeping with the family’s athletic nature, the property even has a pickleball court.

Follow the stone paths

When Marty and Anne Wallace started their garden seven years ago, invasive ivy engulfed the entire area. After grubbing it out by themselves (a task that extended through several seasons), they began filling their new, blank canvas with plants they both love.

The property is set on a steep hillside high above Hale Passage, overlooking Fox Island. A path winds along the edge of the yard that the Wallaces have terraced and planted with iris, peonies, clematis, English and Spanish lavender, delphiniums, hostas, columbine, hellebore and lilies, including a special “Fairy Morning” lily (lilium Martagon – Fairy Morning) tucked in among other varieties.

Red peonies, delphinium and columbine in the Wallace garden.

Another stone path takes visitors around the house to a wide lawn, lined with shade lovers and some of the 35 hydrangeas the couple has collected.

Forty-six roses throughout the gardens honor Anne’s mother. Look for a greenhouse-like shed and a new fountain with carnivorous plants.

Each plant is labeled, which is helpful for gardening newbies and seasoned gardeners looking for new ideas.

Celebration of color

Cora Reuter and Justin Foster’s half-acre garden is a celebration of color. The gently sloping front yard offers a sweeping view of Henderson Bay (and a pair of strategically placed bright red Adirondack chairs set against a hedge – a hint of things to come).

Wander along the walkway beside the house, past the pickleball court and basketball hoop, into the back yard. There you’ll find a row of raised beds filled with petunias in a rainbow of hues, and kitchen garden beds brimming with lettuces, chard, kale, peas and herbs.

A comfortable patio area at the Reuter garden

Colorful foliage plants, including heucheras and coleus, mingle with flowering annuals and assorted perennials.

Benches and chairs – all painted in bright colors, all with color-coordinated pillows – are tucked among the plantings.

Another mossy flagstone path meanders through a shady spot flanked by hostas, to a lavender playhouse with yellow trim that Foster constructed. The entire garden seems to say “linger awhile. And look.”

A showcase for art

The focus of Karen and Barnaby Beck’s garden is as much on the artworks as it is on the plants.

The Becks are art collectors in the broadest sense of the word. Bouquets of glass flowers crafted by Marcus Harper sprout here and there. Dozens of ceramic totems created by local artist Dan Barnett adorn throughout the site.

A sitting area, with totem art, at the Beck garden

The garden is less than five years old. Yet Japanese maples, assorted evergreens and perennials like rhododendrons and azaleas, hydrangeas, deer fern, lavender, andromeda and astilbe contribute a well-established feel. Begonias and other colorful annuals dot the space between art pieces.

Half a dozen Adirondack chairs in a rainbow of colors circle a fire pit. A small outdoor sofa and table create a sitting area against the backdrop of native coniferous forest.

But it’s the artwork that dazzles most in this garden of creative delights.

Natural beauty

Elaine and David Brown have created a secluded retreat on their two-acre property on Bethel-Burley Road.

The land includes an evergreen forest with two salmon streams, an ancient nurse log that nurtures several old cedar trees and a meadow that becomes a skunk cabbage bog in the winter.

A nearby shady spot contains a “trillium nursery” that also includes two varieties of native violets.

Perennials surround a birdbath in Elaine and David Brown’s garden

The “natural” part of the property opens to sloping lawn and a well-tended garden – a tapestry of foliage and flowers. In spring, irises, columbines, foxgloves and other colorful perennials fill the garden.

Summer brings day lilies, echinacea, delphinium, dahlias, asters and rudbeckia that keep blooming well into autumn.

A waterfall and stream flow through the gardens, past an old apple tree and empty into a pond, edged with yellow flag iris. Brunnera, pulmonaria and Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) proliferate along the stream.

A tiny railroad built by David Brown that chugs through a grove of trees is a hidden highlight. And be sure to look for Elaine’s pride and joy: a huge turquoise pot filled with colorful annuals.

Funding literacy

The garden tour’s mission is to promote literacy in Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula. Proceeds from the tour support local programs such as the Reach Out and Read program of Pediatrics Northwest, Community in Schools  Peninsula (CISP), local elementary schools, the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula libraries and other local organizations that support reading and literacy.