Travis Dean wasn’t looking for love.
He was looking for something to do.
The newly widowed career Air Force man moved back to Washington state in 2002 after decades away and had lots of time to fill.
“I took 23 lessons in golf. It didn’t help a bit,” he said. “Then I joined a garden club, and it was 105 women and me. I joined a walking group and it was all ladies. I joined a theater group and went to different shows, and that was all ladies.”
Not that there was anything wrong with that.
“I wound up going to master gardener class,” he said. “It was another thing to do.”
It was there he met Judy, a longtime master gardener and recent widow.
They saw each other at various Snohomish County Master Gardener plant clinics. She liked his quiet and courteous demeanor. One night she had an extra ticket for the symphony and asked if he wanted to go.
He said yes.
He took her to dinner. One thing led to another.
After a four-year courtship, they married on Valentine’s Day in 2007.
Judy, a retired floral manager for Everett QFC stores, had a small house on Mission Beach. Travis had a condo in Mill Creek.
“We decided to buy a place that was ours,” she said.
The house in east Marysville near Cedarcrest Golf Course with a big blank yard fit the bill.
“It was a mishmash of grass. We had problems with wet soil. The grass in several places was a quagmire,” Travis said.
“There was no privacy. The deck was open wide to the neighbors,” Judy said. “Everything you see here has been planted since 2008, except the huge things.”
Travis credits his wife, whom he endearingly calls an obsessive gardener.
“Judy did all this,” he said. “She’s out here weeding while I’m still sleeping.”
He has to rest up for all those truckloads of mulch he shovels.
You can step on the grass, walk the paths and admire the fruit of their labor and love on the Snohomish County Master Gardener Tour, which features 10 gardens on three Saturdays in June and July.
Fruits include strawberries, pears, apples, raspberries and blueberries.
“I have something like 17 Japanese maples,” Judy said. “I really like collecting Japanese maples.”
These add to the yard’s tranquil essence.
“People sit on the deck and say, ‘You have a nice oasis here,’” she said.
The yard isn’t for show only. And there’s more than chirping birds.
A standing metal bell resonates a deep penetrating sound. It’s not quite as loud as Travis had in mind. “I wanted a big gong,” he said.
A swing hanging from a cedar tree is for all ages.
“Even though I put it in for my great-granddaughter, Kaelynne, I enjoy the swing,” she said. “Not that I swing a whole bunch.”
Kaelynne, 3, also likes taking kitchen scraps to the big worm bin for composting.
It’s on the tour. Open it at your own risk.
10 gardens to tour
The Snohomish County Master Gardener Tour features 10 gardens on three Saturdays in June and July. Tour are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 21 in Edmonds and Lynnwood; July 12 in Snohomish, Bothell and Sultan; and July 19 in Mill Creek, Everett and Marysville. Cost is $25. For more information about the tour, call 425-338-2400 or go to www.snomgf.org.
How to become a master gardener
The Master Gardener Volunteer Program requires 80 hours of training and a volunteer commitment as a community educator. Training sessions are held starting in January at the WSU Snohomish County Extension Office, 600 128th St. SE, Everett. The program is open to everyone with an interest in gardening and a willingness to share their time and knowledge. Cost is $245. For more information, call 425-338-2400.
Other garden tours
- Camano Island Backyard Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour: Saturday, June 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 28. Gardens range from small to large, simple to extravagant, forested to waterfront. Free. Pick up maps at the Camano Multipurpose Center, 141 NE Camano Drive, the day of the event. For more information, go to www.camanowildlifehabitat.org or call 360-387-2236.
- Symphony of Gardens: Benefit for Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra with live chamber ensembles. Five gardens in Clyde Hill, Medina, Hunts Point and Kirkland, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 29, with live music in the gardens from 1 to 2 p.m. Cost is $25. Tickets are available at Wells Medina Nursery or Sky Nursery in Shoreline or Brown Paper Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/604208.
- Edmonds in Bloom: Garden tour with seven gardens, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 20. Cost is $15. For more information, go to www.edmondsinbloom.com.
- Snohomish Garden Club Tour: Self-guided tours of urban and suburban gardens, plus plant sale and raffle, noon to 5 p.m. July 27. Tickets are $12. Call 425-374-8622 or go to www.snohomishgardenclub.com.
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; email@example.com