A Personal Retrospective on the Gig Harbor Garden Tour

Gig Harbor Garden TourThis year, the Gig Harbor Garden Tour is celebrating its 20th anniversary. During the years of my involvement with this event, I have met many generous gardeners as well as volunteers who have dedicated many hours to the tour’s success.

On one of my first garden tours, I remember introducing myself to Sue Goetz. It was so wonderful to meet another garden writer and see how she had used her own garden to exemplify the techniques she used in her design business. I especially loved her little herb garden and shed because herbs were my own specialty. Sue was one of the garden-selection people on the committee at that time.

Gig Harbor Garden TourIn 2006, I met Tom and Donna Torrens, who later became involved in the tour. I knew of Tom because of his national reputation as a designer of amazing garden sculpture. I admired the way they incorporated his art into their garden, especially in the rose garden.

Gig Harbor Garden TourThe next year, I visited the garden of Steve and Marion Ekberg. I took my two granddaughters, Rosie and Sarah, and they posed for me in this perfect photographic setting on a bench in the little rock garden. A few years later, when I was the garden selection chair, the Ekbergs volunteered to open their garden again. Marion is now on the board of the Gig Harbor Garden Tour.

We were invited to put our garden on the tour in 2008 and we had such fun getting our fairly new (to us) garden ready for the tour. Our daughter, Molly, supervised our grandchildren, who sold lemonade and cookies and provided background music with their violins and guitars. Ours was an “English garden” then; it’s more of a “Northwest shade garden” now!

Gig Harbor Garden TourOne of the finest gardens in Gig Harbor belongs to Patty and Leonhardt Pecchenino. They have been strong supporters of our literacy cause. Their garden has been on the tour three times. In addition, they have opened their garden twice for extra fundraising events in early spring, when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom.

Gig Harbor Garden TourCindy Storrar is another host gardener who is now volunteering her time as a tour committee member. She and Dave have also opened their garden three times over the last 20 years. Their historic landmark house adds to the charm of an outstanding garden full of wonderful vignettes of art and plants, enough to inspire any gardener.

Other notable gardens include Lucinda and Jerome Capers’ lush acreage on Fox Island (featured in a recent issue of WestSound Home & Garden) and the always-interesting terraced garden of Bill and Peggy Fox overlooking Raft Island. Karen and Larry Beck’s garden has become even more bountiful (with the addition of a fashionable greenhouse) since it was on the tour in 2007. Perhaps it’s time for them to open their garden again!

Gig Harbor Garden TourEven though our patrons enjoy seeing some of the repeats just to note changes and adaptations, we are always in need of new gardens and innovative ideas. So, if you would like to join us in bringing joy and life to the Gig Harbor gardening scene, please consider being a host gardener.

We like to feature a variety of venues from small to large, country to urban, traditional to contemporary. You won’t regret it. Being involved in this tour has been one of the most satisfying things I’ve done since we moved to the Harbor in 2002.

I also encourage you to support the tour not only by attending and enjoying a fine summer weekend but also to become more involved — even if it is simply as a docent or a ticket taker on the days of the tour. We always welcome new talent to the committee to help with garden selection, publication, vendors, sponsors and more.

2017 Gig Harbor Garden Tour

The cause: Literacy

When you buy a ticket to see the beautiful gardens of Gig Harbor and the surrounding area, you are also providing the joy of reading to a worthy child or adult. Last year’s recipients included Pierce County Library Foundation, Minter Creek Elementary School, Vaughn Elementary School, Purdy Elementary School, Discovery Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Communities in Schools of Peninsula and Reach Out and Read.

How to get involved: To find out how to volunteer as a docent or greeter at one of the gardens, go to gigharborgardentour.org and click on the “participate” link.

Guest speakers:

Steve Hootman, 7 p.m. Friday, June 24, Sehmel Park, “Cultivation of Meconopsis, Cardiocrinum and Species Rhododendrons and Other Choice Plants in Our Pacific Northwest Climate.” Steve Hootman is the executive director and curator of the Rhododendron Species Garden in Federal Way. He has traveled extensively on plant expeditions in Asia and is a world authority on rhododendrons.

Shane Chandler, 1 p.m. Saturday, June 25, Sehmel Park, “Mixed Greens: Better Gardening Through Foliage.” Shane Chandler is a landscape designer whose designs have been featured in the Seattle Times’ Pacific Magazine and on Martha Stewart’s blog. He also maintains his own 3-acre garden on Bainbridge Island.

Price of these two events is included in the tickets.

Vendors: Vendors selling garden-related items and crafts will be located at some of the larger gardens. Some of them include Nature’s Lover Clay Works with lovely local pottery and Blue Frog Nursery with great specialty plants including Japanese maples.

When: Saturday, June 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, June 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tickets: $25, $20 for groups of 10 or more; valid both days

Available at Ace Hardware, Rosedale Gardens, The Garden Room, Wilco Farm Store, Tickled Pink and Kaleidoscope (Gig Harbor); Sunnycrest Nursery (Lakebay); Garden Sphere Nursery (Tacoma); Willow Tree Gardens & Interiors (University Place) and online at gigharborgardentour.org.

Patti McFerran serves on the Gig Harbor Garden Tour Board of Directors and was the garden selection chair from 2011 to 2015.