- 2014 Gardens
- 2013 Gardens
- 2012 Gardens
- 2011 Gardens
- 2010 Gardens
- 2009 Gardens
- 2008 Gardens
- 2007 Gardens
- 2006 Gardens
- 2005 Gardens
John and Margi Bachert - Owners
Named for the natural kettle formations created thousands of years ago, the landscape has been artfully designed to offer varying vistas and plant combinations. At every turn there is a surprise, from the supremely serene philosopher’s garden and ponds to a hillside of flowers and vegetable gardens. Please note that some pathways are narrow, winding and on hillsides.
Photos by David Welton
Carol Livers - Owner
Nestled deep in the forest we come upon an enchanting, golden cottage proudly flying the Union Jack flag. From the moment you enter, the garden draws you in to explore. The lines between dense forest and garden have been skillfully blurred so as not to see deer fencing. The owner, originally from England, cultivates a garden that is not only rich in diverse plant material, but displays interesting aquatic plants in her classic pond.
Photos by David Welton
Cynthia Tilkin - Owner
Magic brick and slate pathways lead to and curve in and out of cozy garden rooms that surround this lovely home and stone cottage. The breathtaking views of Saratoga Passage are enhanced by forest, lush native plantings, raised beds, birch trees, and sunny stretches of lawns. Stone walls, benches and ponds are all flavored by a former life in New England.
Photos by David Welton
Debra and Colin Campbell - Owners
Overlooking Saratoga Passage this mature garden enjoys sweeping views of Camano Island, Mount Baker and the Cascades. Paths (many created by the couple's three rescue dogs) gently wind through nearly 100 rhododendrons and garden areas filled with an abundant array of native plants, shrubs, and shade-loving plants. Sculptures scattered throughout add an "Alice in Wonderland" touch. The ultra-modern home was built on pilings to protect both the bluff and the root systems of the mature trees which create an overall feeling of peacefulness while providing sanctuary to eagles, herons and native birds.
Photos by David Welton
In-Town Cottage Garden
Tim and Robin Callison - Owners
This is the small gardener/city gardener’s dream. A sweet and magical space for intimate dinners and gatherings for friends and family, the small footprint has created a back yard getaway from the hustle and bustle of Langley. It displays a nice array of plant material suitable & effective for the smaller scale cottage garden. The current owners have added their personal touch throughout, with art and poems of their life together.
Photos by David Welton
Home by the Sea
Linda Walsh – Owner
In 1978 Linda’s grandparents and mother established Home by the Sea as the first B&B on Whidbey Island, and Linda has built on that heritage to create a distinctly charming landscape. Throughout the property, Linda’s creative use of both plant material and recycled items from her family’s past inspires and teaches. Situated on a stunning spit, the exposed seaside garden, with its grand vistas, entertainment options, and cozy spots, invites one to linger. And the protected side of the house features many charming nooks, including a chicken coop, potting shed, children’s tea house with fairy garden, vegetable garden, and shade garden.
Photos by David Welton
Tom and Sharon Vos – Owners
Year-round beauty and a Northwest Asian influence are keys to the design of this one-acre garden which overlooks Saratoga Passage and is encompassed by stately protective woods. The home, built around a shady atrium and waterfall, brings the outside in with wonderful views and access points. The garden offers a sense of serenity and spaciousness, and the plant collections of Japanese maples, conifers, grasses, and flowering shrubs are superb. Look for Tom’s evocative wooden structural elements throughout the garden that artistically reflect the Asian theme.
Photos by David Welton
Sticks and Stones
Greg and Diane Stone – Owners
This five-acre woodland and meadow garden, with its myriad trails, exhibits the careful implementation of environmental stewardship that feeds the body and spirit of wildlife and people. Greg and Diane practice sustainability with low-impact native plants, organic vegetable gardening, creative reuse of natural materials, and a bit of whimsy. Prepare to be enveloped by a sense of calm and appreciation of nature enhanced.
Photos by David Welton
Ellen and John Welsch – Owners
Starting with mostly shrubs, this garden has steadily evolved over the past five years as Ellen and John have expanded their love of gardening to the Pacific Northwest. Learning from many sources, they have married their Midwest garden with an abundance of NW plant possibilities to create a charming space awash with flowering perennials, annuals, shrubs, and vines. A trickling hillside waterfall, a water garden, and a large deck with a view of Useless Bay, Double Bluff, and the Olympic Mountains plus—a cozy garden-level covered patio—make this a complete outdoor experience.
Photos by David Welton
Spring Valley Farm
Cultivated since 1912, this property features local history, flora, and fauna with nearly an acre of ever-expanding ornamental borders and numerous impressive outbuildings. Since 1976 the current owners have sculpted and planted a sizeable food production garden, expanded into the surrounding forest and fields, and tended stunningly mature specimens.
A Tuscan Lady’s Garden
This enchanted garden designed by the artist/owner is sure to please the whimsical and creative among us.
Enjoy the forest creatures and hobbit cottages nestled under trees, upon rocks and amongst hollyhocks and foxgloves.
There are arbors full of vines, a glass round house, an art studio, and a stone courtyard with a babbling brook.
Experience the intersection of spirituality and food in a garden that is approaching year-round production of edibles in just five years.
The incredible courtyard goldfish pond hosts all manner of wildlife (eagles!) and ornamental plants, while the rose garden showcases a collection beloved roses and flowers.
Enjoy native plantings, a small orchard, vegetable garden, and a hoop house, all in a sacred setting.
If your grandfather owned the first Rototiller in Washington State, you know that gardening is in the blood.
Partner with someone who believes "you can't have too many Japanese maples," and the recipe is created for this double lot with peekaboo views of Holmes Harbor.
Constantly evolving and densely compact, this colorful cottage garden offers plenty of photo opportunities and a variety of seating nooks.
Best of all, according to the owners, "We did all the work and you should know it is very doable!"
Fox Hollow Farm
How much can a juvenile rabbit eat in 24 hours?! These gardens have been crafted to accommodate rabbits, deer, and hawks, as well as chickens, sheep, and two miniature donkeys. Despite marauding animals and clay soil, a sublime display of grasses and perennials mixed with PNW natives showcases two ponds and a cascading waterfall. Other gardens on the grounds more closely conform to the geometric lines and styles you would expect in response to the impressive château at the center of the gardens. This estate is a lovely example of working farm and ornamental gardens that both inspire and delight.
Heron's Roost & Ewe Two Farm
Heron's Roost now comprises two guest houses set on the forested grounds of Ewe Too Farm, located on high bluff overlooking Holmes Harbor. Over the past 22 years—and even the past six months!—many changes and creative ideas have taken shape here. Yet, the owners' efforts have graciously supported the magnificent natural features of forest and waterfront view. Stroll through the Moon Gate and past the stone lions to visit this local paradise.
Tucked into a neighborhood of homes overlooking Mutiny Bay, this garden has grown to cover two lots. So much texture and attention to detail hold your interest that it is easy to spend time in this half-acre garden. And, if you have ever wondered how to cultivate beauty under the dry shade of mature Douglas Firs on a sandy slope, this garden is a textbook case of successful solutions. Offering peaceful habitat for birds and humans at the edge of a ten-acre marsh, this woodland garden has been a labor of love that demonstrates well the complexity of compact gardens.
Tolkien's venerable elves lived in this isolated location, protected from the influences and complications of the outside world by magical forces. Fifteen acres of woodland trails and five acres of rolling field and cultivated gardens encompass many magical places on this Greenbank estate. Visit the Northwest Passage, Lily Pond, Maple Grove, and Meditation Glen. On both sides of the deer fencing, you will find horticultural delights.
Walk into the woods on a moss-covered path and you may find that you begin to walk at a slower pace. Various shades of green attract your attention as you enter a woodland garden that is all about lush texture. Over the past fifteen years, as trees grew, the forest has surrounded Molly's home such that it seems to be part of the woods. Come explore the beauty of this fairy bower.
Planted natives and forest understory have merged to provide a soft and natural transition from forest to residence as you emerge from the path beside a birch grove. A wooden bench tucked among the rhododendrons encourages you to pause and slow down even further, in order to survey the collection of textures around the entrance to Molly's home. But the sound of the waterfall pulls you in, past the Fairy's Tea Room. Discover the heart of this homestead: a sheltered patio with stone steps leading up into a fairy-sized Japanese maple garden, complete with a tiny stream and pond.
Following the path back into the woods will bring you around to the woodshed and the sunniest portion of the property. There, a new garden features all edible landscape plants and an herb spiral. Be sure to check out the Medlar Tree—the fruit ripens after the first frost and its taste is likened to cinnamon spiced apple butter.
Down the winding narrow drive through the forest you will find the way back to your vehicle, but keep your eyes open for fairies!
From the moment you turn off the road and travel up the driveway, you will begin to experience the peace that emanates from this meticulously maintained forest retreat. Enfolded by cedars and firs, the heart of this garden dances around three koi ponds and two small waterfalls that provide the soothing sounds of RhythmWaters.
Last year, the garden and ponds underwent a major renovation and the results are stunning. Stroll beyond the guest studio and small residence to discover a forest meadow that is edged by a series of ponds and waterfalls. The burbling brook that connects the two main ponds is a pleasant soundtrack to the peaceful scene. Follow the gravel path and you will be embraced by a fusion of Northwest charm and more than a hint of Asian ambiance. You may be tempted to veer off into the woods and stay awhile on the seating knoll, or you may linger on the curved benches around the water's edge by the fire pit. From inside the old growth cedar grove, turn and cast a last lingering gaze across the ponds before slipping around the hot tub deck and strolling back to the parking meadow.
RhythmWaters was sculpted with a set of ideals in mind, among them: beauty, balance, harmony, and serenity. Because these qualities are so skillfully employed in this garden, we think you will agree with the owner that it is “a rare jewel in the forest.”
The Gathering Place
Some people would be intimidated at the thought of feeding 24 people for a sit-down dinner. However, the owners of The Gathering Place have a knack for it and most of the dinner comes out of their own backyard garden—even the wine!
For the past five years, the Reides have been building a garden that provides them with year-round food and lots of color. They let the site dictate what to do and built their cabin atop a ridge. While most of the lowland was logged 24 years ago, some of the upland has not been logged since the early 1900s. Flowing with the natural topography and applying permaculture techniques allowed them to harmonize with the natural stormwater control features. Rather than wiping the slate clean and building orderly beds amidst rectilinear fencelines, they meandered downslope to emulate some of their favorite hiking trails, complete with mesmerizing viewpoints.
Walk in through the driveway gates and explore the colorful entry gardens before climbing up through rose-scented air to the cabin's front porch. From here the garden's full glory begins to reveal itself, and you will want to watch your step as you head down to enter the fenced area. Roses and ornamentals tucked under the stately firs gradually give way to edibles and orchard. You will see no slugs as the ducks are diligent-you may hear them as you pass the wildflowers and poultry yard. At the bottom of the garden, check out the espalier Marionberries before climbing back up to the entry-did we mention it was appropriated planted with alpines? This is a garden for sturdy footwear, as well as an appreciation for how to gather ornamentals, natives, and edibles into a place of delight.
Lewis and Beckman Garden
Carved from a 5-acre wooded parcel, this garden sits in a natural bowl that collects heat in the summer and channels a surprising flow of winter rainwater. Despite demanding full-time jobs, the owners have focused on organic food production with minimal maintenance in a beautiful setting. When the transformation began in 1997, the site was a blackberry patch. Today, garden beds cascade down hillsides and a woodland waterfall garden has developed as the land expressed its own needs.
Enter through the arbor gate and start down steps that pass by colorful terraced perennial beds. Enjoy a collection of Chinese tree peonies and numerous clematis interlaced lovingly with vegetables. A small Bonsai patio and garden objets d'art provide numerous stopping points, however, wander on past blooming roses and discover the centerpiece of the gardens: raised beds that produce organic vegetables year-round.
The garden surrounding the house is designed to keep deer and rabbits out and Mason bees in; check out the cleverly designed home for bees overlooking the fruit trees and berries. A small creek bed directs the winter flow of water into a pond behind the house. Stroll downhill to see the Omlet Eglu Cube, a purple portable chicken coop from Great Britain that makes farming fun! In addition to the whimsical “outdoor bathroom,” the lower gardens feature over 20 varieties of bamboo and many ornamental trees.
The nature lover may wish to sit a spell and enjoy the peaceful environment that provides much food and housing for local wildlife. The arborist will relish the Asian striped bark maple collection and wide assortment of specimen trees. Truly, this garden features something for everyone.
Thirty-eight years of collecting pictures and magazine images seeded the eventual creation of this seaside estate. On a high bluff overlooking Admiralty Bay, land was cleared for a home in the 1990s but it wasn't until five years ago that the current owners purchased the site and built an elegant villa and carriage house, complete with wrought iron deer fencing, which did not require the removal of any additional trees.
Before the house was even built, the owners began transplanting from their previous home in Langley. Well-tended ornamental beds surround the home and patios. A formal vegetable garden, orchard, and chicken coop complement the European styling of the home. And yet, the native windswept firs, large cedars, and Sitka spruce anchor and frame the garden, ultimately drawing your eyes to the ever-changing sea and sky.
Enjoy the forest textures and scents as you walk into the estate from Smuggler's Cove Road. Emerge from the trees and follow the drive past beautiful beds right up to the raven on the front door. A path to the left leads around to a veranda where you may want to linger by the water feature or peek in the sunroom where tomatoes are grown year-round.
Be sure to walk down across the lawn with its expansive view of the shipping lanes to the vegetable parterre and say hello to the resident hens named after comic book characters: Olive, Brenda, Sarah, and Carmella. Notice that they live with a net over their heads since eagles and ravens nest on either side of this property. You will want to look up, down, and all around as you explore the beauty that is Ravensea.
Point of View
You approach this standout garden through beautiful woodlands sparkling with sword ferns and other Northwest natives. Throughout this spectacular 20 acres, musical references, garden art, and over 700 planted trees, innumerable shrubs, perennials, and annuals all harmonize to reveal the owners' interests, aesthetic, and stewardship plan for their property. Approximately 7 acres of gardens connect the house, concert hall barn, and guest house to the land and to sweeping views of Puget Sound.
Historically, water flow on the property was controlled via a logging chute. Before the creation of the present gardens could begin, a new system for water management was necessary. Now a series of ponds and dry streambeds, incorporated into the garden design, connect to subterranean curtain drains, catch basins, and pipes that direct the runoff to the Sound.
Be sure to explore the various garden areas scattered around the property. The Ballpark, which greets you at the front of the house, is a new addition since the last time this garden was on the tour; the Dinosaur Plateau features a topiary Stegosaurus mother and baby, and prehistoric-looking plants such as Cardiocrinum giganteum, Dracunculus vulgaris, and Gunnera; a covered footbridge crosses a natural wetland; the pond next to the house is graced with basalt column fountains, a grove of Dawn Redwoods, a beautiful arching bridge, and annuals that seasonally transform the scene to provide dazzling color year-round; and the newest feature, "Farmall Shed" shelters a treasured Farmall Super C tractor. The area in front of the house opens out to a glorious expanse of lawn, surrounded by specimen trees such as Robinia pseudoacacia 'Friesia', Oxydendron, Stewartia pseudocamellia, and Parrotia persica. Hidden beyond is a terrace sited to take in the spectacular views of Puget Sound and the Olympics.
The wonderful mix of wild and cultivated spaces gives each section of the property a distinct personality. The liberal choice and placement of art provides examples of how to use art effectively and with humor (note bears doing the heavy lifting for a wizened plum, the gnomes, musical instrument fountain, and topiary dinosaurs).
Throughout this stunning property the secrets of the garden are revealed: a mix of respect for the site's inherent majesty and native elegance, enlivened with choice plant selections, inspired design, and a uniquely personal point of view.
Ten years ago the owners of Garden Gallerio bought this nearly four-acre property and began to transform its “lawn, small wall and 120 feet of nothing driveway” into their existing strolling garden. As with all good gardens, the learning process is ongoing. Lessons include gardening with encroaching forest and establishing sound and visual buffers to break up the open spaces of the site, providing unique experiences within the garden.
Now, islands of trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses integrate the house and terraces with outbuildings and the surrounding forest, creating connections with lush beds and meandering paths. Flanking the studio barn, which serves as a summer studio for Pat, repurposed rock-grading screens displaying art and a fire pit lure visitors to linger. A stunning natural glacial erratic at the forest edge inspires a huckleberry loop path and complementary Northwest native plants.
Throughout, the gardeners apply their experience into working principles: respect nature, embrace winners and accept losers and know when to fold, moving plants to new locations where they will thrive. These romantic gardens play with color, echoing or contrasting the art, recycled artifacts and beach treasures. Coiled rebar plant stakes add a cheerful “Seussian” flavor, and to mark each new year, birdhouses get a remodel, typical of the way this garden integrates art and nature in a palette of joyous experimentation.
Beginning with the “Welcome Home” sign, this property echoes the owners' farming heritage and exhibits their creativity with whimsical reuse of items, such as farm implements, kitchen gadget, and furniture. These formerly utilitarian pieces, placed artfully within the gardens, create a colorful sense of fun.
The owners started this garden in 1993, incorporating meaningful plants from their previous home, including a strapping Mount Fuji flowering cherry and the corkscrew willow that was a tiny start from Mom's tree. From the family farm, a large seeder, outfitted with planter boxes and backed by a maple, sets the tone for what you will discover inside. Eighteen arbors and trellises, festooned with colorful flowering vines, showcase effective use of vertical space and lead you from front to back, where you encounter several lush garden rooms. Then meet the donkeys, sheep, and resident bunnies whose backdrop is a beautiful view of the Puget Sound. Installations commemorate family history: a wedding arch, an anniversary arch, and a dance terrace. Color predominates: pinks and purples, a turquoise fence (note the section made from a baby's crib), a multi-colored flock of birdhouses perched along the tops of hollyhocks, brightly colored flower “beds,” and ladders, for fun not for climbing.
However delightful and playful, this garden also supplies the owners with a plentiful harvest. The orchards include 22 producing hazelnut trees, Asian pear, plum, apple, and fig trees. A 40' double row of raspberries, a 30' asparagus bed, 75' of rhubarb, newly established blueberries and gooseberries, and the pumpkin patch are all arranged around a spectacular iron garden gazebo. The last viewpoint is the cedar gazebo that the owner purchased as a kit and constructed himself. This garden fosters and reflects the happy, productive life of a family and provides a delightful venue for many more happy occasions.
The Jewel Case
How to explain so many unique spaces to enjoy in a relatively small garden? Strong design elements and choice plant selections, judiciously placed, create a multifaceted garden that feels much larger than it is. Colorful woodwork provides a structural framework.
Eight years after a failed septic system ushered in a garden rebirth, this jewel case of year-round bloom and sculptural interest reflects the owner's love of saturated colors and strong forms. This less-than-glamorous beginning cannot detract from the artful sophistication of the present garden. Planning included vigorous subtraction and editing. Even the orchard was reworked to incorporate espalier forms, including the unusual cordon stepover and an apple fence.
The owner credits the advice and help of friends (who are well-known landscape designers) for guiding her in this “big learning process,” though she says she still buys plants she likes, and then figures out where to put them. Thriving on a diet of organic fertilizer and an annual six-inch application of mulch, this garden glows with special “pass along” plants, including additions from the Dunn Garden (a residential garden designed by the Olmsted Bros.) and the Miller Garden, both of Seattle. Among her favorites are mahonias (which host overwintering hummingbirds), epimediums, unusual hellebores, witch hazels, and the gunnera and ferns happily ensconced in the hot tub. They are perfect examples of how this wonderful garden colors outside the lines.
Whidbey Island has a way of grabbing gardeners and making them want to put down roots. That's what happened in 1996 when the owner of this garden wanted to re-create the flowerbeds that so inspired her mother and grandmother. Starting with a new house that sat in a clearing in the woods, over time the owners created a beautiful sanctuary that serves as the backdrop for brides and grooms focused on creating special memories—Island Memories. Emerge from the woods and pass the charming guest cottage to be welcomed into the side garden. Keep in mind that there was nothing here but a sandy weed patch years ago as you revel in the riot of flowers and whimsy. Follow the backyard border of color, scent, and sound around to the front porch, and look down to the pond and gazebo. More than 100 roses guide you to the fenced garden, greenhouse, and shed, which provide a delightful side trip before you head down-slope toward the sound of a burbling brook. Follow the raised beds to an enchanting stream and cross over a bridge to find yourself at the water's edge. Look for large koi, frogs in rowboats, and speakers cleverly disguised as rocks as you admire the way this hand-made watering hole nestles into the edge of the woods. Collected run-off in the pond serves to water the cultivated grounds. The Victorian gazebo beside the pond serves as a poignant reminder that love is always in bloom. Pause at one of the benches and delight in the way trees and sky, water and whimsy co-create a setting that soothes the senses. Stand under the flowering cherry or beside the contorted weeping willow for a photo as a reminder of your own island memories.
Picture a Victorian mansion perched high among the firs with a circular drive hinting of what is to come. Mature natives provide a centering majesty while introduced cultivars coexist with simple elegance. Deer and the elements are informing the new direction of this garden, created just 12 years ago to provide an awe inspiring view of Mount Rainier and Puget Sound. Walk through the formal gateway and down an allee. The landscape conforms and then transforms … it is a delightful dance between European symmetry and Asian asymmetry, a dance that makes use of texture and form to create a serene fusion. A Japanese style arbor is your first sign that the formal European geometry is about to be challenged. Then a flowing miniature conifer garden captures your attention. Next, a 2,000 year-old pre-Columbian pot begs you to keep on questing for more clues to the spiritual center of this garden. Stroll across the small plaza past a gravel garden and around the gazebo to see edibles perched at the edge of a precipice. Marvel at the neighboring Earth Sanctuary's deep forest. A large statue of Kuan Yin looks across the koi pond, beckoning you to stroll past the weeping tree specimens and spectacular Sumac. Take a final pause to look out over the garden and beyond, and you will realize that this garden is an invitation to dwell in peace.
- Miniature conifer garden
- Rock garden
- Kitchen garden
- Sculptural Sumac
This spectacular garden started out 20 years ago as "an acre of sawdust and a few flats of Vinca minor." Local builder Ralph Hastings crafted the home on 20 acres overlooking Useless Bay, and Whidbey horticulturist Holly Turner started the owners down the path that has led to a delightful three acres of cultivated Jangaarden. Drive across wetlands and up through the woods to a grassy promontory. The entry garden funnels visitors along a vibrant orange wall to the Experimental Garden. What began as a holding area—"I just love plants!"—has become a delightful secluded side garden with views to the water but protection from the wind. Admire the numerous tree peonies and bronze and golden foliage. A gate directs the way across the lawn to the Pagoda with sweeping views of farmland, water, and mountains. Walk the woodland trails to the fire pit in a fern glade or return to the newly renovated Perennial Border and Secret Garden. Seattle designer Dan Borroff is assisting the owners in transforming previous experiments into social spaces; the goal is to encourage visitors to cluster together in the garden as if they were in the heart of the kitchen at a good house party. Amidst the unique conifers, multiple species of Euphorbia, and bubbling water features, you can see for yourself the numerous sweet spaces for memorable conversations.
- Experimental garden
- Fern glade fire pit
- Secret garden & pond
- View promontory
When he first walked the half-acre lot, the owner saw exactly where all of the structural trees would be planted. Starting with only a mature Doug Fir and Cedar (plus lots of blackberry bramble, an abandoned car, and loads of trash), he saw plenty of room for improvement. In just six months, this small urban lot was transformed and ready to be included in the 2004 Whidbey Island Garden Tour. We thought you might like to see what four more years of growth and lots of love can do for a brand new garden! Refusing to dig—"Roots know which way to grow: down!"—the owners mounded up and around more than 100 varieties of trees, 48 shrubs, and 21 clumps of bamboo to create a very special place. Dozens and dozens of perennials round out the plant list. Horticulturists will delight in the multiple varieties of Cornus, Cotinus, Phylostachys, Physocarpus, Stewartia, and Styrax. Everyone will delight in the atmosphere of peace and serenity. Enter the gate and weave your way past a large stand of timber bamboo toward the Styrax Grove. Tables of bonsai may pull you toward the goldfish pond and tiny patch of edibles, but don't miss the central bed with its Manchurian Stripebark maple and large Iron tree. Follow around the house and notice the shift to an Asian aesthetic that culminates in a fabulous grove of Japanese pine interlaced with plants and inspiration from China, Korea, and Hawaii. Color and texture ensure four seasons of interest in Rainshadow Gardens, but just to be sure, a periwinkle wooden bench anchors the center of the garden—pause here and let the simplicity and peace sink in.
- Espaliered orchard
- Styrax grove
- Bonsai tables
- Stewartia grove
- Golden Hakonechloa garden
- Specimen tree row
Reflections on Tranquility
The natural beauty of this five-acre hilltop setting welcomes you to enjoy and reflect on the sights, sounds, and overall tranquility of a garden that truly integrates a gardener's grace with Mother Nature's bounty. With a backdrop of stately firs and scenic views of Mt. Baker and Saratoga Passage, it is no effort to slow down and pause, delighting in the unexpected. Your heightened senses will hear rhythmic water as it drops into tiny pools where wild pigeons drink and a doe brings her fawns. Your eyes and imagination will open wide at the way these creative owners have approached the use of found objects—both natural and man-made. Deep maroon foliage of plum and maple trees greet you and stone-lined pathways lead to patios, lawns, and naturalized beds. Discover vibrant groundcovers lining soft green lawns and bridges over dry creek beds. Flashes of reflective light will peak your curiosity, and the creative pruning of layers of botanical favorites blending with natives will have you reaching for your camera. The owners began building this garden as a sanctuary even before house construction started 10 years ago. Officially sanctioned by Washington State as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary, the natural beauty of this woodland garden is balanced by the deliberate use of cast-off treasures. In the center of it all, a courtyard of Zen brings peace to the moment as you step across the threshold and reflect on what makes a garden grow. In this instance, love and creative solutions have transformed a "blank canvas" clearing into a wonderful one-acre masterpiece.
- Dry creek bed
- "Found Art" path
- Sand pool
- Zen courtyard & wisteria arbor
- Garden shed
- Trio of Blue Atlas Cedars
Gardening with Friends
Upon your arrival, this garden welcomes you and gracefully presents the home of its two industrious owners who, with family, friends, and neighbors created this peaceful place. Who would know that twelve years ago it was a horse pasture with only blackberries, thistles, alders, and hardpan? After three years of removal and amending the soil with lime, organic fertilizer, alder sawdust, and crimson clover, the owners began planting. As family and friends generously contributed hard work and special plants, the garden magically evolved to become a place to make memories and share friendships. In the front of the house is a garden, featuring a pond surrounded by many varieties of rhododendron and Northwest natives. There is a tea house, which the owner built himself, where friends and neighbors gather to enjoy drinks and conversation under the serene gaze of the Buddha. A vegetable garden and fruit trees supply the owner (who describes herself as "addicted" to canning and pickling) with organic produce she shares with friends all year and especially at Christmas. On the east side of the house is another gathering spot with a beautiful view over Nootka and Rugosa roses to Saratoga Passage.
- Golden chain tree arbor
- Enclosed parterre vegetable and cutting garden
- Grandchildren’s "bunkhouse"—perfect for campouts (a former horse stable)
- Fire pit and seasonal frog pond
- Knot garden
Over the meadow and through the woods, you find yourself at a drive entry that gives little indication of what lies beyond. Enter a world of fanciful art and a spectacular collection of perennials, ornamental grasses, unusual trees and shrubs, vines and climbing roses expertly combined. Rosecliff is a very large, mature garden with garden rooms arranged on terraces that gently ascend to various structures and views. Any gardener would appreciate the owners’ attention to finding specific plants for combinations within specific color palettes—the yellow walk, the blue border, the purple and gold border, and the hot pink border—daring and successful textural combinations and the quest to incorporate rare or unusual plants. This year WIGT was lucky to have a second chance to see this garden, which was on our tour 10 years ago, when it was newly planted. First-time visitors were awe-inspired; second-time visitors had the opportunity to see and learn from this magnificent garden as it matured and changed.
- Arbors draped with honeysuckle, rose, wisteria, and clematis vines
- Stone fruit trees and moonlight broom hedge
- Hellebore and hydrangea walk
- Wedding cake dogwood and weeping silver pear
- Sculpture garden
Art and artful living … This gracious Northwest home is surrounded by a garden that provides numerous creative, relaxing venues for the enjoyment of the owners and all the lucky guests who have the good fortune to spend time within it. The long wooded entry walk—once a bridal path—leads to undulating lawns and mass plantings chosen to complement the native Northwest vegetation and define living spaces, such as the mass planted euphorbia in the entry garden. The architectural entry is a log and translucent-roofed structure that spans between the public and private areas of the house and provides a view south over the property. Standing under this portal, you immediately feel the intended connection between the house, the garden, and the water view. The garden is a remarkable example of what great beauty can be achieved with a variety of mass plantings, relatively low-maintenance choices, and readily available materials—including flowering and evergreen shrubs, trees, perennials, and ornamental grasses. In summer, the garden uses supplemental water from a 12,000 gallon rain-collecting cistern.
- Trollhaugen, a splendid artist’s studio
- Pond and waterfall with waterside plantings
- Sitting and picnic areas with vistas over Puget Sound
- Sleeping porch and outside shower
- Vegetable and cutting garden
Heron's Roost and Ewe Too Farm
Immediately behind a Chinese moon gate and grape arbor entry, you will find a handsome log home and the peace and tranquility of a contained water garden accented with Japanese Maples. Hear the sound of the gently splashing basalt fountain. It is obvious you entered a world made by the owners specifically for calm relaxation and to establish a connection with nature, which this spectacular property plentifully affords. Sit on the rocks, reflect, and watch the goldfish in Bailey’s Pond, which sits between the main residence and Heron’s Roost, the guest cottage. To one side, there is a greenhouse and fence covered with wisteria and honeysuckle. To the other is a garden with flowers and vegetables growing wildly together—roses for cutting and raspberries for munching. Step onto the grassy lawn where a large dining patio stretches across the rear of the home or walk to the swing and look for whales in Holmes Harbor. Listen for Harbor seals or watch bald eagles soar on the wind currents. A path around the pasture leads to a tea house and stone Buddha, where you can pause to contemplate and reflect or watch sheep grazing. Soon you find yourself in the forest, a wooded area that was last logged in the early 1900s. The ravine is filled with large conifers and ferns, and it offers a serene forest walk. This garden truly inspires the owners’ wish for visitors: "May peace fall softly upon your world and stay in your heart forever."
- Weeping white pine, copper beech, and cherries
- Perennial border
- Moon gate and grape arbor
- Sheep pasture
The influence of France and California’s Sonoma County combined with the character of Whidbey Island make these formal gardens special and unique. The entry walk up the drive is lined with white pine and Sequoia; it leads to a formal motor court and porte cochere in front of a stately home. Two graceful weeping willow trees can be seen from the motor court. They stand on either side of an arched bridge, reminiscent of Monet’s at Giverny. The bridge crosses a stream and marks the beginning of a path that follows the water course to ponds and a waterfall. The stream path is bordered by wetland and plantings and pauses at a wooden viewing platform. Seen from the columned porch that extends across the entire rear of the house, the gardens slowly descend toward a view of Useless Bay that provides a shimmering summer backdrop. Walk down the staircase set between rock walls and terraced plantings of perennials and shrubs to stepping stones through the stream, a final pond, and on to a wisteria covered arbor and a rose garden. There are also raised beds with edibles and fruit trees. This garden takes you on adventures within its borders, each one unique, yet integral to this completely Whidbey garden.
- Knot garden with clipped rosemary and boxwood hedges
- Birch grove
- Waterfall and ponds
- Potting shed garden
- Hydrangea mass plantings
From a small, in-town space to an easy-care garden bathed in full sun, the 2006 Whidbey Island Garden Tour showcased a distinctive selection of private gardens in its annual event on Saturday, June 24.
Among the gardens in 2006 was an eclectic space featuring an old orchard that was transformed into a new, sophisticated garden with a feeling of maturity; a serene garden in downtown Langley with intimate outdoor living spaces and secluded patios; a two-acre clearing in Bayview surrounded by several acres of towering Douglas fir forest provides the setting for color-themed mixed borders, woodland glades, and a cutting border; nine distinct garden areas on a two-acre site in Clinton offer mature trees, unique hardscaping, and low maintenance with gorgeous water views; and a Greenbank garden offered a European influence of perennial borders, roses, and a forest walk.
In addition to the Tour Gardens, the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens offered free admission, for the day-of-tour only. These lovely Northwest gardens encompass 10 acres of display and educational gardens enveloped by 43 acres of woodland preserve with more than four miles of nature trails.
Quail and Thistle Farm
European gardens and a love of rhododendrons have inspired these owners to design, construct and maintain perennial borders, roses and a forest walk on what was once filled with mostly thistles and quail. An existing chicken coop and yard have been transformed into a picturesque potting shed and rose garden with English climbers, David Austin and "rescue" roses, an herb garden and French wire baskets. The woodland garden includes hellebores, many varieties of rhododendrons, "bulbs everywhere", deer-resistant plants and a dry creek bed. It is personalized by an extensive garden ornament collection and is the owners’ favorite place for evening strolls. The pergola was located to enjoy the view of Mt. Baker. The perennial borders frame the postcard view of the rolling green pasture, red barn and distant waters of the Sound.
- Potting shed and garden ornaments
- Rose and herb garden
- Viewing pergola
- Woodland garden
Making an historic orchard into a new garden was the task at hand on this suburban property. After construction of their new home, the owners, with the help of garden designers Dana and Byron Moffett, designed their garden to feature some of the old apple trees from the original Millman farm. By doing so, the trees, together with new borders of easy-care, fast-growing grasses, shrubs and perennials chosen for foliage color and texture create a sophisticated garden with a feeling of maturity. A particular effort was made to achieve privacy from the road and still maintain a view to the neighboring farm using it as rural borrowed scenery. At the end of the comfortable deck, built to capture sunlight, is an arbor, a berm with mixed border plantings, and container plantings that serve this purpose. An attractive outbuilding provides a picturesque focal point from the house and there are places to sit, relax and enjoy the garden.
- Mixed borders, roses, canna
- Overflowing container plantings
- Deck, arbor, garden shed
- Attractive, 3-bin compost system
This serene garden unfolds as the visitor follows the terraced entryway past cascading shrubs, ferns and a variety of shade- loving plants. Stop to admire the mature Japanese Maple and other exquisitely pruned patio trees and shrubs. The hands-on owners give credit to garden designer Fran Abel for her excellent placement and pruning advice. Around each corner is a new discovery, a new venue, and the variety of intimate encounters creates an overall sense of expansiveness. The secluded patio gardens are defined by shrub borders, fences, pavers and planted containers between the main and guest houses. The owners repeat plants they have learned work in their specific garden and plant for foliage texture and color, and form. Behind the guest house you’ll find a small garden of edibles occupying the sunniest area. This garden is a delight for outdoor living and entertaining.
- Intimate outdoor living spaces
- Shade-thriving plants
- Masterful pruning and shaping
"What on earth do we do with the yard?" was the question the owners asked themselves after completing their beautiful home in 1998. The two-acre site offered mature trees and spectacular water views. With no previous gardening experience or knowledge, and the desire to do it themselves, they began the landscaping and so began their education. In time they learned lessons that helped them to establish a garden that is specifically suited to their interests, talents, needs and aesthetic preferences. By creating nine garden areas and a division of labor, they were able to address the project without becoming overwhelmed. She researches the plants and he designs and builds the hardscape. They shop for materials together. Casually elegant, the garden and house reflect each other spatially with contemporary materials and stylistcally. Mass plantings and some "let nature design", as well as presentation of the stunning views make this a livable and artful composition.
- Japanese maple, rosemary, grasses and natives
- Rock-work walls
- Raised pond with sculpture, pergola
- Memorial garden with rhododendrons
Twenty years' fascination with horticulture and the owners' passion for collecting plants is what created this lovely garden. The house and gardens are sited in a two-acre clearing surrounded by several acres of towering Douglas fir forest. The owners have planted color-themed mixed borders, established woodland glades, sunny vegetable gardens and a long cutting border. An enclosed patio, featuring a small fountain and Mediterranean plantings, invites you into the exquisite and functional potting shed. Roses, clematis and honeysuckle vines clothe fences and trellises that protect plantings from deer and rabbits. The garden is continually evolving but remains the tranquil and secluded haven the owners desired to create.
- Laburnum and wisteria entrance arbor
- Rock-work terraces
- Asian maple and rhododendron collection
- Vegetable garden
- Flower-cutting garden
- Potting shed and fountain
Credits are missing for the following images. If you know who took these photos, please contact us and we'll add photographer credits!
The 2005 Whidbey Island Garden Tour was cause for special celebration as it marked the Tour’s Tenth event. A milestone that all volunteers, advertisers, sponsors, friends, and beneficiaries could be proud of. Their hard work and countless volunteer hours have made the Whidbey Island Garden Tour, Inc. a successful organization and made all of the Tours financially beneficial events for our Whidbey Island community.
The Tenth Annual Whidbey Island Garden Tour was held on Saturday, April 30. With a focus on spring gardens this year, five of South Whidbey Island’s loveliest private gardens were open to the public, offering visitors a personal glimpse into the exceptional world of Island gardening.
The gardens ranged from a collector’s garden of the rare and unusual to an 11-acre growing canvas of extraordinary compositions and the personal garden of a noted rhododendron grower.
And, again, we were pleased to offer admission to the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens, which was complimentary with the Garden Tour ticket on April 30. Spring is prime bloom time at this Whidbey Island treasure.
These magnificent gardens, arrayed over eleven acres within a 54-acre site, offer extraordinary compositions that vary with the seasons. In springtime, flowering trees, some of them rare, attract attention to their ephemeral beauty; and a wide variety of flowering shrubs and perennials add color throughout more than a dozen garden rooms. Developed over the past eight years, expansive vistas contrast with more intimate spaces to enhance the ever-changing journey of discovery through this horticultural delight. The results of the owners' plantsmanship and meticulous attention to detail applied on a grand scale are breathtaking.
Fun and Functional
Over the past eight years, the owners have created their enchanting one-and-a-half acre garden, nestled inside seven bucolic acres, with comfort as the primary design focus. An outdoor dining room sheltered by a vine-covered arbor and a large, sunken firepit hint at good times. A 'bubble' theme enlivens both the bathhouse, with its antique cast iron tub, and the rock streambed that leads to it. A vineyard with over a dozen varieties of grapes and an orchard with apple, apricot, plum, and pear trees descend down a slope toward a meadow. The edible landscape includes, as well, a variety of plants with berries for the birds. This quintessential Whidbey Island garden provides a feast for all the senses.
This one-acre garden is the legacy of the late Michelle Pailthorp, a passionate plant collector who sought out the rare and unusual. For the plant aficionado, many treasures are to be discovered here; and observation up close is the mode for best appreciating what Michelle created over a period of ten years. Deep shade, with its hints of mystery, complexity, and seclusion, provides the context for collections of epimediums, hellebores, and foliage plants. Meandering pathways through a ravine heighten the sense of adventure this garden offers in abundance.
In his private garden overlooking Admiralty Inlet, the owner, a renowned rhododendron hybridizer, showcases many of the rhodies he has developed and introduced. This time of year, spectacular blossoms combine artfully with Japanese maples and conifers into a vibrant tapestry of color and texture. This 12-year-old working garden encompasses about 3/4 of an acre. The rhodie hybridization 'farm' is across the road on an additional 3/4 acre. Unusual in its scope, the owner's collection includes specimens that can be seen nowhere else.
Sensitivity to the site and to the environment guided the design of these exquisite Japanese-inspired gardens. In a woodland setting near the front of the house, mature rhododendrons transplanted from elsewhere on the property blend with Japanese maples to surround a masterfully crafted watercourse and pond of a size and complexity rarely seen in a private garden. A finely detailed courtyard garden borders the house. On the view side, a subtly-shaded quilt of phormium, heather, lavender, and nandina blankets the gentle slope between terrace and lawn. Covering about an acre and a half, this three-year-old garden conveys serenity, balance, and refinement.