SNOHOMISH — Garden tour volunteer Fred Rowe calls it a “show stopper.”
He is referring to the garden belonging to wife-and-husband team Kiki Devney and Steve Palmer.
People are sure to agree with Rowe’s assessment when they visit the Devney-Palmer garden during the Snohomish Garden Club’s 30th annual garden tour, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
“And they do all their own work,” Rowe said.
The tour showcases eight gardens in the city and around rural Snohomish. Along with enjoying an afternoon of pleasant wandering through gardens, people on the tour can count on coming away with good ideas and inspiration for their own gardens, Rowe said.
At the Devney-Palmer garden, tour participants are encouraged to allow extra time to see it all.
People will enter from the back of the property through a pergola situated in the middle of a hedge of the perennial grass miscanthus, which the couple started from just one plant.
The north end of the yard also features a 30-foot sequoia tree that Palmer brought home not so many years ago when the redwood was 6-feet tall and could still fit in his VW van.
Much of garden was once pasture land. With hard work and a borrowed tractor, the couple smoothed the back yard and even added a shuffleboard court.
In the back garden, lavender and lilies add color and fragrance to berm flower beds shaded by Katsura trees. Also beautiful right now are hydrangea, alliums, crocosmia, raspberry and blueberry.
Adjacent to the back garden is the dog park belonging to their goldendoodle, Mac. This is no messy dog park. It includes an Eskimo sunset maple, a big Douglas fir, rhododendrons and an artful gong. The wood and iron fences leading to the dog park (and located in other spots in the garden) were built by Steve Delong, who also constructed the couple’s greenhouse.
The centerpiece of the Devney-Palmer garden is a cedar building they call the garden room. Built by their friend Michael Ballas, it has accordion doors on three sides and beautiful fireplace on the fourth. It’s party central at their house and in use most of the year because it’s just as nice in the rain or snow.
Palmer is an attorney in town and Devney has a massage therapy and acupressure practice, also in Snohomish.
After work and after the weeds are pulled, the garden room is the place where they like sit to look at their little waterfall and listen to the birds and frogs.
Garden art and topiary play roles in the garden, so watch for those, too, especially in the front yard shade garden, which surrounds a potted full-moon maple. Mature trees on the property also include magnolia and dogwood.
Perhaps the highlight of the Devney-Palmer garden are the tropicals such as banana, rose of Sharon hibiscus, small bamboo and canna. To protect them, the cannas are dug up each winter and placed in the greenhouse, Devney said.
The banana trees can reach 25 to 30 feet in summers following mild winters. The fruit isn’t big, but the purple blossom looks just like those in Hawaii, Palmer said.
In harsh winters, he covers his small banana groves in burlap. This year, the banana trees are about 15-feet tall.
“It’s been nice to bring a bit of the tropics to our own garden,” Palmer said.
Other gardens on the tour include a rehabilitated dried, sloping front yard, now festooned with flowers, a Victorian cottage garden surrounding a Queen Anne home, a private back garden with a cabana and fireplace, and a garden on the Ohlde homestead decorated with an old Allis-Chalmers tractor.
Snohomish Garden Club helps its members improve their skills, offers scholarships to graduating high school students going into horticulture, makes grants to organizations for horticulture studies or beautification projects and helps fund the downtown flower baskets.
“The club also provides seed money and much of the grunt work on the Martha Perry Snohomish Veggie Garden that last year provided 20,000 pounds of fresh produce to area food banks,” Rowe said. “When people find out what their money supports, they are even more enthusiastic about the garden tour. It’s sure to be a good day on that Sunday.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @galefiege.
Snohomish Garden Club tour
Snohomish Garden Club’s 30th annual garden tour is noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The tour is free for supervised children under 13. Tickets, $12 each, are available at Annie’s on First, Joyworks, Blanc &Rouge, McAuliffe’s Valley Nursery and McDaniel’s Do It Center, all in Snohomish, along with Machias Nursery, Molback’s in Woodinville and Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville. Tickets also are available online at www.snohomishgardenclub.com or at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Snohomish Senior Center, 506 Fourth St., where people can buy plants, raffle tickets and event posters.
Proceeds from the tour provide student scholarships and fund hanging flower baskets in Snohomish.