Tom Astrof with his wife, Paula Morrier-Astrof, and mother-in-law, Judy Morrier, in the sunken garden in the Astrof’s back yard near Martha Lake. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Tom Astrof with his wife, Paula Morrier-Astrof, and mother-in-law, Judy Morrier, in the sunken garden in the Astrof’s back yard near Martha Lake. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Gardener finds a ‘slice of serenity’ in his Martha Lake yard

Tom Astrof’s “happy place” is one of six gardens featured on the Mill Creek Garden Tour on June 22.

Judy Morrier says her son-in-law is often seen, equipped with a headlamp, working in their yard after midnight.

“He’s a workaholic in the yard with the lights on ‘til 2 or 3 in the morning,” Morrier said of the Martha Lake area home she shares with her daughter, Paula Morrier-Astrof, and son-in-law, Tom Astrof. “He takes pride in the garden.”

“It’s definitely therapeutic, it’s my happy place,” Tom Astrof said.

The home’s greenery and gardens include a three-tiered fountain, a small cabin and a sunken garden lined with hostas, raised beds of lavender, roses and perennials, rhododendrons, ornamental grass and coral bells. There also are Alaska cedars, azaleas, conifers and shrubs.

The garden is one six on this year’s Mill Creek Garden Tour, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 22.

The Astrof garden is called “A Slice of Serenity in the City” in the tour’s guide, a description Morrier said matches the experience of living there. “It’s been a joy,” she said, a place for family gatherings.

Other gardens on the tour are:

“Flora Amid the Forest”: A garden with hanging baskets, planting beds, patio gardening with herbs, vegetables and colorful flowers. That “forest” mentioned in the title is tucked away in the back yard.

“A Team Effort”: The front yard of this husband-and-wife gardening team includes geraniums, hydrangeas and fuchsias, and in back begonias, hardy fuchsias, coleus and impatiens, hostas and ferns. A butterfly garden features bee balm, echinacea, alyssum, salvia, crocosmia, clematis and a climbing red rose.

“Hydrangea and Hummingbird Hideaway”: A garden with a reputation that lives up to that name, with Japanese maple, camellia, rhododendron, azalea, vegetables, calla lilies and mophead hydrangeas. In addition to hummingbirds, the garden is visited by dragonflies, blue jays, chickadees and sparrows.

“A Whole Lot of Love”: A previous Mill Creek Great Garden Award winner. This back yard includes 13 mature conifers, with roses, coneflowers, hellebores and hosta nearby attracting bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, doves, blue jays and is home to a family of woodpeckers.

“A Park with Ambiance”: A stone pathway leads to a sitting area with a park-like setting with pathway lighting, a barbecue area and fountain with ornamental grasses and hanging flower baskets nearby, attracts bees and hummingbirds. Fir and hemlock trees host squirrels.

If you’re thinking about going on the garden tour, you’ll probably need to get tickets in advance. Last year’s event sold out, said Julie Jacobson, a member of the Mill Creek Garden Club, which organizes the annual event.

Tour proceeds are returned to the community in grants for gardening projects. Last year, five grants totaling $7,800 were awarded, she said.

The tour also includes an artisans market with contributions from 10 artists available for purchase at homes on the tour.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or

If you go

The Mill Creek Garden Tour, a self-guided tour with six featured gardens, is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 22. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 on tour day.

Tickets are available at Artisan Custom Framing and the University Book Store, both in the Mill Creek Town Center, 15310 Main St., Mill Creek; McAuliffe’s Valley Nursery, 11910 Springhetti Road, Snohomish; Molbak’s, 13625 NE 175th St., Woodinville; or Sky Nursery, 18528 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline.

Go to for more information.

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