The San Juan Island Garden Club, Horticultural Society and WSU Master Gardeners, is hosting a Garden Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 10. Tickets are $15 for ages 17 and over and are on sale at Ace Hardware, Browne’s Garden Center, Griffin Bay Books, and Roche Harbor Market. Directions are printed on the back of the ticket. Proceeds will be shared by the three organizations, each of which has a special project of benefit to the community— the town hanging baskets, the Demonstration Garden that supplies the Food Bank and premiums at the County Fair in the Flower and Vegetable Hall.
Four gardens, all designed by the owners, have survived the cool wet spring. The Spaulding Garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat teeming with plants including some rather unusual shrubs and frequented by hummingbirds and songbirds. This garden was developed from scratch, on land denuded by the overpopulation of rabbits in the late 70s. Now it is an enclosed paradise of special plants, particularly roses, each with a story to tell of the owners’ stay in England. Winding paths lead you through the riches to a barn now frequented by barn swallows instead of a pony.
Another is an artist’s palette in garden rooms overlooked by a spectacular flowering vine, Moonlight Hydrangea. The color pallet here was influenced by the Mary McCullogh’s experience painting in Avignon. This compact garden is wholly protected from the winds from the straits by three buildings that create a sunny windless microclimate in which favorite plants thrive in defined beds giving the illusion of rooms. In addition to the main house, there is a guest cottage with a native plant garden. Add to this a vegetable and cutting garden, and you will appreciate how every inch of space is used in this colorful garden.
Next door is Olympic Heights Bed and Breakfast. If you choose to drive to this garden you will be greeted by an exuberant Buddha, two magnificent quaking aspens and a vista of lawns. You can, however, choose to walk into the garden from the McCullough home and enter through a back garden gate and wind your way past flower beds and a vegetable garden and chicken run with a very special wind vane. Keep your eyes open for a sleeping kitten and a dramatic green man. On the lawn in front of the barn, the Garden Club will be serving lemonade and cookies. A restroom is available in the barn.
The fourth garden is Jenny Prescott’s Rose Garden on Bailer Hill. Watch for the garden tour signs as this garden is completely invisible from the road and is reached after a drive through a leafy tunnel of native thicket. Here is another vista of sweeping lawns, a pond, plantings around the house, including a pair of inverted stumps with succulents tucked amongst their roots, and of course, the owner’s pride and joy, a fenced rose garden complete with a resident rabbit with very good manners.
Docents will be on duty to show you the highlights. We hope everyone will enjoy seeing how these gardens have weathered the cool wet spring and appreciate the owner’s generosity in letting us in. Please drive very carefully, especially along Old Farm Road, and enjoy a leisurely stress-free day.