Golf, a lake and a slice of heaven on Mill Creek Garden Tour

  • Tue Jun 23rd, 2015 7:29pm
  • Life

By Andrea Brown Herald Writer

Get your groove on at this weekend’s Mill Creek Garden Tour.

There are six gardens on the June 27 tour that is open to the public this year.

“In the past it has been for members only,” said Mill Creek Garden Club spokeswoman Lila Johnson. “It was perk of membership. You had to have paid your dues. We met in the last garden for a potluck.”

This year, there won’t be a potluck at the end of the self-guided tour, but there will be lots of ideas and examples to make you pot-lucky in your garden with your plants.

Johnson said the gardeners whose lawns were chosen for the tour went all out.

“I’m just blown away,” she said. “They put their heart and soul into it.”

The tour is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at homes in Mill Creek, Everett and Bothell. Tickets, $15, can be purchased at Artisan Custom Framing and Li’l Sprout Nursery in Mill Creek and Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

For more, go to www.mill

Here’s a look at the gardens with comments and descriptions by Johnson:

“Lakeside Gem” in Everett: “There’s a wonder at every turn in the pathway,” Johnson said. “You never know what’s going to be there next. Everywhere there is something that catches your eye. The colors are breathtaking.”

Native trees and shrubs, Japanese maples, crab apples, smoke bushes and conifers dot the acre of wooded land nestled on a lake. Clematis and other vines scramble over arbors and trellises. Perennials provide color and texture on the ground. There’s a garden shed, greenhouse and covered patio swing. Yard art and colorful container plantings mix with whimsical and traditional elements to add to the eye candy. Master gardener docents will be on hand to answer gardening questions.

“Par for the Course” in Mill Creek: “Sit on the patio in the lovely yard and look out across the golf course,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to tell where the yard ends and the golf course begins.”

Johnson said the gardener had a vision and wasn’t afraid of hard work to convert her rocky property into a calm retreat with a lawn, water feature and colorful perennials. The Torii gate and Japanese red bell are featured on the cover of the tour guide and posters.

“The Garden Love Built” in Bothell: “In his garden he tells the story of his parents and how they met and their romance,” Johnson said. “It is in the middle of a neighborhood, but the thing I marveled at was the almost complete privacy. It is like in its own little world.”

What do you do when your parents have a compelling WWII POW romance … besides writing a book about it? You design a garden in honor of their love story, Johnson said. Imagine a blackberry-covered acre transformed into a garden that tells the story of a capture on Guam with tropical plants, a Japanese garden with a secret path and an English perennial garden. This gardener has accomplished all that and he’s written a book, too, titled “Ed &Ivet.” Books will be available at this tour site.

“Perennial Heaven” in Mill Creek: “I have never seen so many plants I don’t know the names of,” Johnson said. “It is a mass of flowers, mostly perennials. I’ve never seen so many hummingbirds flying overhead.”

When you’ve never met a plant you didn’t like, what type of garden do you create? Johnson said the gardener likes to browse plant sales, where she’ll buy things “new-to-her” and then enjoys the challenge of getting them to grow well in her garden. A small greenhouse added four years ago helps nurture those plants. The plant-encircled lawn where all those experiments have come together in harmony has some surprises tucked in.

“Terraced Retreat” in Mill Creek: “Even seeing it in the winter we recognized it had great bones and beautiful trees,” Johnson said. “It’s even more beautiful in summer.”

What do you do with a hilly, sloping back yard? Operating under the premise that “form follows function,” the homeowner took a once bare-bones, kid-friendly yard and turned it into the peaceful, terraced retreat. Blue stone pavers, cedar, hemlock and Japanese maple trees with low-maintenance plantings add texture, shape and color to create a natural garden with plant variegated ground cover, azaleas, rhododendrons, various grasses and emerald greens.

“Certifiably Sustainable” in Mill Creek: “It is amazing what Mother Nature can do without a whole lot of water,” Johnson said. “Even in a dry year like this.”

Meander up the driveway and into the back garden, the back slope is planted with trees and shrubs that have to survive with very little supplemental water, little or no fertilizer and no pesticides. The beauty of the changing seasons is displayed with its mix of native plants, ornamentals and a natural-looking waterfall with pond. As Johnson put it: A year-round vision of textures, interesting yard art and an earth-friendly place.