Gig Harbor’s green thumbs
Ever wondered what’s behind the tall hedges and down the long driveways of Gig Harbor’s private retreats? This weekend, you can find out when the gardens of seven private homes are open to the public for the annual Gig Harbor Garden Tour.
Gig Harbor’s spectacular waterfront views combined with leafy forest settings are what makes the area so inviting. Add in the inspired and hard work of gardeners and the combination makes for a stunning tableau.
The tour is self-guided and includes lectures beginning on Friday night. The organizers donate all profits to child and adult literacy programs in Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula. Vendors will be stationed at the gardens selling both plants and art.
Below are brief descriptions on four of the seven gardens on the tour.
The views are so jaw dropping that they overwhelm the garden that Jan and Jeff Hohman have created on a bluff overlooking the Narrows. It’s a happy problem to have. But if you can pry your eyes off of the blue water punctuated by mature firs, you’ll see borders featuring mounding and low growing plants backed by a rustic picket fence. Fuschias, euphorbias, heathers and unusual conifers offer a variety of colors and textures.
Two blue Adirondack chairs command a V-shaped space at the edge of the bluff. Raised beds provide the Hohmans with salad fixings, squash, asparagus and tomatoes.
One of gardening’s greenest trends – a stumpery – is a feature in the garden of Karen and Roger Moore. The four acre parcel is part wild, part tamed with the line between the two often blurry.
Roger is a fused glass designer and his studio, which will be open for the tour, is surrounded by gunnera, rhubarb and other large leafed plants. Heucheras and grasses in a rainbow of colors mimic each other’s color palettes.
On the opposite side of the property is the Moore’s stumpery: five upside-down stumps salvaged from a logging job. They support ferns, both native and exotic. The Moores were influenced by a stumpery on Vashon Island owned by Pat and Walt Riehl.
The Moores make extensive use of art in the garden from several local artists. A few of them will be offering their work for sale at the Moore garden during the tour.
The further one walks onto the Horsehead Bay property of Terrie and Kerry Watrin, the more that time recedes. Three sheep graze in a pasture, a sunny vegetable garden sprouts edibles and finally a 1920s log cabin, the couple’s home, commands a spot in a forest setting.
The farm setting, combined with a plant collector’s palette of unusual plants, makes for a unique garden. A delicate, almost all white Japanese maple grows near a more robust maple with pink splashed leaves.
The vegetable garden is big enough to feed the Watrins, some neighbors and make donations to food banks. It’s also the site of an annual harvest party. “It’s been a neighborhood favorite every fall,” Terrie said.
Drama is the theme at the Fox Island garden of Zari and Mark Rennie. The prelude is the garden entrance – a 220-foot long winding pergola planted with a who’s who of vines: grapes, roses, akebia and jasmine.
When visitors finally break in to the open, they see lawn, flower beds and a pond fed by two waterfalls – including one from a hollow log.
Comfort and fun are never far away at this garden. Numerous seating areas dot the property and a putting green with two sand traps anchor one corner of the lawn. Just outside the house is an outdoor bar, fireplace and kitchen.
The Rennie garden is a popular spot for family weddings with brides often entering via the pergola. The Rennies cultivate half of their four-acre property and do all of the garden work themselves.
“We don’t have a life. We just have a yard,” Zari said.
GIG HARBOR GARDEN TOUR
When: 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Seven Gig Harbor gardens