EVERETT — Friends and visitors call her place “The Butchart Gardens of Everett.”
Janice Tallman has a simple explanation why her half-acre yard gets dubbed a smaller version of the epic Victoria, B.C., floral wonderland.
“I got ants in my pants,” she said.
Yep, sure looks that way. This lady doesn’t sit still. She’s a tan, lean gardening ninja.
“I’m out here all the time,” Tallman said. “It’s starting to wear on my hands. I was playing blackjack at a table in Reno and the guy next to me was staring at my hands and said, ‘Do you work in a factory?’ ”
You can see her Butchart-esque spread on the Mukilteo Garden &Quilt Tour July 15 and 16. The self-guided tour has seven gardens adorned with more than 100 quilts.
The biennial tour is a partnership between two groups, Mukilteo Way Garden Club and Mukilteo Lighthouse Quilters. The pairing of gardens and quilts is unique. Garden tours and quilt shows are usually separate events, but in this case people get a twofer of sorts and a chance to see flowers and fabric combined in a different light.
More than 20 quilts will be displayed in Tallman’s yard, with most using fabric by artist Kaffe Fassett, renowned for his vivid and colorful designs.
Some were created by quilter Sydney Hoard, a founding member of the Mukilteo quilting guild. She’s a big fan of Fassett’s fabric.
“I love it because it is so bright,” Hoard said. “He puts so many colors and patterns together that you just don’t see very often. I love the color, love the pattern. A lot of people say it is too much, too bright. I say, ‘The more the merrier.’ ”
That seems to fit Tallman’s motto as well, making it a perfect match for her yard.
Tallman’s home is set back from Mukilteo Boulevard, concealed by trees in the front. The back offers a view of the water, if you can take your eyes off the rows and rows of plants.
You actually get two gardens at one stop. Her neighbors, Marilyn and Ed Larson, are also on the tour with a smaller spread and about a dozen quilts. The Larsons’ garden shares a gate with Tallman’s garden.
She and Marilyn are gardening buds.
“We are like two peas in a pod,” Tallman said of Larson. “We have our dollar-store hats and our cut-off pants, and we look like dorks and we’re out there every day with our butts up in the air.”
Tallman said the yard was a mess when she and her husband, Steve, and their two young daughters moved into the 1925 home about 25 years ago.
“This used to be all grass down here, and there was a swing set over there, and I started trimming and adding more plants,” she said.
She kept adding: Soil. A retaining wall. Thousands of flowers.
“There are four different levels,” she said.
Much of that grass is gone.
“Now where there’s a tiny strip, I have a lawn mover that I have to carry down the stairs. It’s 40 pounds and it’s battery operated,” she said.
Every inch is taken. “I hardly buy plants anymore because somebody has to move and then somebody else has to move,” she said of her plants.
This includes: “Moonshine yarrow. Japanese silver grass. Polish spirit clematis. Lot of hydrangeas. Peonies. Alliums. Solidago fireworks. Spirea. Hebe. Lots of sedums. Dahlias.”
It’s more than eye candy. There also are things to eat: Peas, tomatoes, green beans, squash, cucumber, lettuce.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard of cucamelon,” Tallman said. “It looks like a watermelon, but it’s the size of a cucumber.”
Chances are she’ll send you home with something to plant or to eat.
Tallman is active with Snohomish County Master Gardeners and is a former Master Gardener of the Year. Her home also won Everett’s coveted Monte Cristo award.
“The yard turned out like she envisioned,” her husband said.
His current role? Carrying buckets of compost.
The bedrooms formerly occupied by their two grown daughters, Amanda and Erin, are now “grow rooms” in the spring. “One was filled with 600 pepper plants,” Tallman said.
Tallman is handy in other ways. She makes yard art out of pop cans and planters out of chairs. A sedum chair she made went for $250 at a recent charity auction. “I found the chair for $2.99 at a thrift store. Of course, I already had the sedum,” she said.
“Everybody brings me things because they know I’ll make something out of it. The only thing I turned down was a roll of tar paper. Someday I will probably have a use for it and go, ‘Darn, I wish I had that roll of tar paper.’ ”
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
If you go
Mukilteo Garden &Quilt Tour: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 15 and 16. Self-guided tour of seven gardens with quilts plus an indoor quilt display at Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo. Advance tickets are $15, $20 day of event. More at www.mukilteo gardenandquilttour.org.
Quilts in the Tallman garden:
“Little Elephants,” designed and pieced by Sydney Hoard, pattern by Sanchia Gair for Red Brolly: “I loved the fact that there was no paper piecing, as well as how extraordinarily adorable the birds and elephants are.”
“Kaffe Village of Red,” designed and pieced by Kay Davidson, quilted by Judy Irish: “I started this quilt some time ago, and added more trees to make it larger. It was a UFO (unfinished object). When I retired, I ‘found it’ with one block to finish. Glad to be done.”
“Wow, That’s Bright!” by Sue Mattson: “I find Kaffe Fassett fabrics to be a feast for the eyes, and enjoy having this quilt on the bed in the springtime.”
“Alba Enlarged,” designed and pieced by Kay Davidson, quilted by Judy Irish: “Quilts of Italy — Alba just got bigger.”
“Mish Mash,” designed and pieced by Kay Davidson, quilted by Laura Heine, pattern by Cheryl Whitmeyer: “Keeping with Kaffe.”
“Disappearing 9 Patch,” designed and pieced by Kay Davidson, quilted by Laura Heine: “Keeping with a favorite palette — pink on orange/yellow.”
“Kaffe Lone Star,” designed and pieced by Kay Davidson, quilted by Judy Irish: “I had to focus on this quilt, so I worked five days at Fiberworks to finish.”
“Freddy’s Kaffe,” designed and pieced by Kay Davidson, quilted by Adrienne Reynolds: “Found pattern in Freddy Moran’s quilt book. I loved the contrast with black and white.”
“Piper’s Flowers,” designed and pieced by Kay Davidson, quilted by Adrienne Reynolds: “Made for granddaughter Piper from Sandi Carr’s pattern Flowers.”
“Dahlias and Then Some,” designed and pieced by Sydney Hoard, quilted by Susan Palmer: “I have a delicious collection of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and wanted to use as many of them as I possibly could. The result is this riotous mixture of florals, abstracts, stripes and fans with the dahlia frame.”
“Sea Horses,” by Judy Irish: “A simple Kaffe pattern that I made as a teaching sample.”
“Scrappy Strips,” by Judy Irish: “I was testing a friend’s scrappy strip pattern with my Kaffe Fassett stash.”
“Bordered Diamonds,” by Judy Irish: “Gave me a chance to use up some of my Kaffe stash.’ ”
“Citrus Zig Zag,” by Judy Irish: “From a Kaffe Fassett book and it inspired me because of the scrappy colors.”
“Cool Triangles,” by Sydney Hoard: “I loved collecting the fabrics and putting the contrast together. I tried it in black with contrasting solids for the values. Want to try it again, maybe in holiday reds and greens.”
“Hexies,” by Judy Irish: “One of Kaffe Fassett’s great quilts from the book, ‘Quilts of Morocco.’ ”
“Fractured Diamonds,” by Judy Irish: “Inspired by Kaffe Fassett … I love his fabrics and making his quilts. They are so happy.”
“What Was I Thinking,” by Judy Irish: “This quilt was such fun to make. I used some of my stash and cut each diamond one at a time.”
Mukilteo Quilt &Garden Tour