Vashon Garden Tour 2023June 17 & 18, 2023
Vashon Island boasts some of the finest private gardens and nature oases in the Northwest, and every year, for two days in June, they welcome in the public to enjoy their verdant foliage, fragrant flora, colorful blooms, and masterful design.
Presented by Vashon Center for the Arts for more than 30 years, all proceeds from the Annual Vashon Garden Tour support the arts programs at VCA. As you take in the vibrant blossoms of the season, you’ll be helping to make your local arts scene even more vibrant in the coming year!
Plus, there’ll be delicious food and garden vendors all weekend on the VCA campus, pop-up garden art galleries along the way, and a chance to enter a fabulous Garden Raffle. VCA’s gallery will feature a special art exhibit on the ‘Monuments of Vashon’ as well as a stunning selection of quilts
Saturday, June 17, 10am – 5pm
Sunday, June 18, 10am – 5pm
Youth (5 and under) are FREE
TRANSPORTATION: VCA does not offer a bus service from the Vashon ferry dock for walk-on passengers. You will need a car to visit all the gardens on the tour. If you are visiting from off-island, we encourage you to allow for ample time as the ferries may be busier than usual with weekend traffic.
The Ticket Brochure & Map is your access to the gardens and are available for pick-up at the
VCA Box Office during open hours (Wed – Sun, 12-5pm).
All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges will be provided.
McConnell Property – Picture a garden bursting with colorful native plants, towering evergreen trees, and tranquil ponds. Imagine strolling through winding paths and stumbling upon unexpected sculptures that spark your imagination. This is the magical world of Mike and Liz McConnell’s 18-acre estate. A paradise of plants and art, two wooden horse sculptures greet you as you arrive followed by gorgeous stone and teak gates that lead you to the sanctuary of Mike and Liz McConnell, owners and caretakers of the former David Smith/Suzanne Anderson property here on Vashon Island. The McConnells purchased the property in 2019. The garden features acres of northwest plants including evergreens, ferns, and Japanese maple trees. Two imported buildings from Asia adorn the property. One of them is a 150-year-old Kudus teak house that Smith brought from Java and reassembled on the property. The other is a Chinese influenced Indonesian pavilion also imported from Java by Smith. Of special note is also the beautiful work done by the landscape architect David Pfeiffer who worked with Smith to create the incredible landforms and magical gardens that surround the Kudus house. The property is a showcase of garden art, including ancient Asian sculptures, lovely ponds and magnificent views of the Olympic Mountain range.
Forest Garden Farm – Nestled on Vashon Island, the Forest Garden Farm is a working flower and produce farm steeped in history and cultural significance. Visitors can wander the gardens and fields and talk to the farmer/owners Lisa and Chris who moved across the Salish Sea from Seattle to realize a dream. Learn about environmental and regenerative farming such as low and no till, cover cropping and interplanting of perennials. Visit the fields of peonies, sweet peas and other seasonal offerings planted alongside carrots, lettuces, peas and other spring vegetables and fruits.
The farm has a rich legacy of immigrant families who have worked hard to cultivate the land. From the Sx̌ʷəbabs Coast Salish peoples, who fished, hunted, and foraged food and medicine from its waters and forests, to the first non-native settlers who homesteaded the land in 1862 to the Fujioka family, immigrants from Japan, who farmed the land after internment during WW II. The Fujioki family grew Vashon “Marshall” strawberries and lingonberries. Today, members of the Fujioki family visit the farm each spring to harvest Fuki, a traditional Japanese vegetable, grown by the pond.
LaSalle Reserve – LaSalle Reserve is a 19-acre property on Maury Island owned by Gar and Barbara LaSalle. The property boasts monumental sculpture gardens, large ponds, gazebos, waterfalls, vineyard, and tree-lined walkways. The property was purchased in 1978 with a vision to create an Italian countryside atmosphere blended with the rich culture of the Pacific NW. The landscape was designed by internationally renowned Landscape Architect, Richard Haag, acclaimed for his design of GasWorks Park and the Bloedel Reserve. The house was designed by the award-winning NW architect, Wendell Lovett, displaying his link of art and architecture. The grounds also include a massive Trellis Garden with sculptural columns designed and fabricated by NW sculptors, Ion Onutan and Grigoriy Reva. LaSalle Reserve is currently an event venue for weddings as well as private and corporate events.
A Victorian Stumpery Garden – Explore another world in the largest private stumpery garden in North America. Owner Walt Riehl’s magical, hidden forest of native tree stumps is overflowing with fern, epimedium, hosta, woodland plants, and other large leaf plant material. The 10,000 square foot garden is filled with stumps and roots as the main architectural element. As you descend into a ravine you will pass through a tunnel covered with many stumps.
The idea of using stumps as a major garden element was first used in England in 1856 at Biddulph Grange. This design element was in reaction to the formal nature of gardens at the time and became part of the Romantic Movement which emphasized the beauty of nature. The interest in stumperies occurred at same time as the Victorian Fern Craze. The first modern stumpery was created by King Charles at his estate at Highgrove. Pat Riehl was able to personally see both of these garden’s and was inspired by them. Inspired by these gardens Pat collaborated with British fern expert Martin Rickard to transform a shaded ravine into a magical environment. As you walk along the winding garden path the stumps will rise above you blocking your view of what is beyond. The tree ferns will amaze you of the size of their fronds. All of this is understory to Douglas fir towering overhead. Gardens continue to evolve and grow. In addition to the stumpery look for the following:
· A bright green stump
· A red tree
· A watering can sculpture.
· A conifer garden with 75 dwarf and miniature conifers
· 7 planting beds
· A “fern” chair and 2 fern tables
Goucher Garden- Tucked away on the very north end of the island is Janice Goucher’s secret garden of meandering trails, northwest natives, and unique specimens. Janice purchased the approximately half acre property in early 2012 from Phyllis Clark, but the garden’s evolution started approximately 10 years before that when Phyllis graded the property and started from scratch. After the property changed hands, Janice and Phyllis worked together in the garden until the pandemic interrupted their joint work parties. As they say, “only on Vashon”. Over the years, Janice has also called on the help of Landscape Architect, Bob Horsley, and Melissa Shafer, of Shafer Specialty Landscape & Design, for design and installation of new plants as well as removal of invasive plants and replanting areas when mother nature has decided to participate in the gardens evolution. Some of the interesting specimens’ guests will find on the property include a Chilean fire tree (Embothrium coccineum) that will likely be blooming and attracting hummingbirds on garden tour weekend. A contorted larch takes center stage in one of the planting areas near the home. Other unique trees include a new Dawn Redwood and another more mature sequoia. A large Tetrapanax tree can be found along the driveway. Janice also has several giant Himalayan lilies, which can take 4 to 7 years to bloom. Will we be lucky this year? A swath of wild ginger is another delightful find. The property is a certified wildlife habitat, as designated by the National Wildlife Federation, and Janice follows good environmental practices as much as possible, including using no pesticides, and only using nontoxic deer and slug repellent when necessary. Her goal is to create a welcoming environment and provide habitat for pollinators, birds, and small mammals. Janice credits help from many including the previous owner, Phyllis, professionals including Bob and Melissa, her friends at the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club, and even a forestry class taken from the University of Washington. The result is a peaceful retreat layered with textures playing off of one another that is sure to delight visitors.
More Garden Tour Highlights:
Vashon Center for the Arts will be the central tour stop for Garden Tour visitors to collect their maps for a day of garden gazing but be sure to give yourself time to check out all the featured activities awaiting you on our campus grounds.
POP-UP ART EXHIBIT: Art treasures will be found on display in the VCA atrium as well as tour locations. Featured artists works will include ceramic artist and sculptor Alexander Kamola as well as the art of Brian and Tara Brenno.
JUNE GALLERY EXHIBIT: During the month of June, VCA’s Koch Gallery will feature a photo exhibition ‘Monuments’ by William Rives, along with a Harbor School student art show in the atrium.
FOOD VENDORS & GARDEN BOOTHS: VCA’s parking lot will have a variety of food vendors on hand throughout Garden Tour weekend for visitors to grab a bite to eat, take a restroom break, purchase a raffle ticket, and browse a handful of garden business booths.
QUILT SHOW: The Vashon Island Quilt Guild will also be on display in the VCA atrium with a collection of more than a dozen beautiful, handmade quilts on sale!
RAFFLE: The Garden Tour raffle returns with a selection of prizes donated by island businesses. We’re still gathering items, but expect a variety of offerings from garden tools, plants, garden art, and more!
HERON MEADOW: Outside Vashon Center for the Arts Katherine L. White Hall visitors can have a picnic lunch or stroll through Heron Meadow, a protected wetland area that serves as a field office location for Vashon Nature Center and features the Vashon Audubon Mural, painted by island artist Britt Freda, showcasing birds found in the Judd Creek watershed that are threatened by our changing climate. Vashon Nature Center staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.
THANK YOU PRESENTING SPONSOR
2023 Garden Tour Sponsors & Supporters