By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
Parked out front is a red 1971 Volkswagen bus with no other place to go.
That’s because the garage is filled with garden stuff.
And the garden is full of garden stuff.
At Bob and Ilse Nethercutt’s home near Silver Lake, it all becomes garden stuff, even if it doesn’t start out that way.
Bob’s prized VW will become garden stuff as well on Saturday’s Gardens of Merit Tour. The couple’s yard is one of eight stops on the tour sponsored by the Evergreen Arboretum &Gardens, with master gardeners in place to answer questions.
The red bus will grace the garden’s entrance for men to admire and as a sign of cool sights to come.
The acre of property is an eclectic escape with stone-lined terraces, garden rooms, wildlife and covered swing. The winding paths are paved with elements of color and objects of surprise.
“Not everything has to be visible,” Ilse Nethercutt said. “You come around a corner and see something. That’s kind of what we like.”
She’s the green thumb. He’s the muscle.
“It’s fun to construct things,” Bob Nethercitt said. He built the garden shed with potting attachment. He moves around the mammoth clay pots until placed just right, which can take several tries.
“Amazingly, I like to weed, because it gets me in a place where I go somewhere else,” she said.
When she isn’t digging in the dirt, she does mosaic and stained glass pieces that accent the garden.
Together they have transformed their place on Ruggs Lake in southeast Everett into a wonderland of Japanese maples, crabapples, blueberries, smoke bushes, conifers, garden art and flowers galore.
“It’s like painting to me,” she said. “I adore the creative process because you are playing with colors. It’s like making a mosaic. I go to the nursery and I fill one flat with stuff that hopefully goes together. A lot of times it doesn’t work at all. Sometimes you create a container that is just spectacular.”
There are lots of containers.
“Last year we counted the potted plants that were sitting around and it was 132. The number shocked us,” she said.
“If I see a pretty pot somewhere at a reasonable price I’ll buy it to add to the collection.”
About 65 empty ceramic pots are in a storage area, waiting for fulfillment.
“That’s why they had to pass the law here, to make pots legal,” her husband joked.
The couple met in 1971 when he was stationed in her homeland of Germany. He brought his bride to Washington, and they started a family near Seattle.
They were living in Shoreline, where he was a dispatcher for the school district, when Everett intervened.
“We were looking for vacation property,” he said, “and the real estate agent gave us this address, and we sort of laughed and said ‘Everett?’ We’d never heard of this little lake.”
It was home and a hideaway rolled into one: “We looked at each other and that was that: We’re moving,” he said.
“We never dreamed of having anything like this,” she said.
It’s still a work in progress.
“Things are always in flux. When a felled tree forced us to redo half of our front yard, we added a water feature as well as a bird feeding station, which has the local squirrel population ecstatic,” she said.
“Like most gardens, it will never be done.”
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gardens of Merit Tour
The self-guided tour goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets are $10 and available at the Evergreen Arboretum &Gardens, 145 Alverson Blvd., Everett, on the day of the tour. Tickets will also be sold in advance at the arboretum and at Pacific Stone, J. Matheson Gifts, Lamoureux Real Estate and Under the Red Umbrella in Everett; Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville; and My garden Nursery in Mill Creek.
Also on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., there will be a plant sale in the upper parking lot of the arboretum.
For more information about the tour and sale, visit www.evergreenarboretum.com or call 425-257-8597.