Find inspiration for a glorious garden on tours

July 12, 2011

By Jane Garrison

Many years ago when I began practicing landscape architecture, a friend convinced me that the only way to design or create a really wonderful garden is to visit a lot of gardens.

I was guilty of staying in my comfort zone, protecting myself from the bombardment of too much information. We toured fantastic, unforgettable places in Seattle and beyond. Some of it blew my mind.

I remember an older man with a red house, inside and out, with plants and animals living in every nook and cranny. Maybe that’s not your style, but it certainly made me see that there are other ways to think about design. Getting out and seeing what others are doing is vital. It really opened my eyes years ago, so now I recommend it highly.

If you would like to tour gardens, including orchards, vegetable, native, large, small, contemplative or artful, now is the time. There are many garden tours available in our area in July and August. I checked out some and picked a few that I thought would be helpful and maybe thought provoking.

West Seattle Garden Tour

  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 17
  • $15 per person; children free
  • Visit 10 gardens, including a 2.5 acre estate.
  • The tour is self guided, with a noon lecture about perennials.

Snohomish Master Gardeners Annual Garden Tour

  • July 16 and 23
  • 14 gardens
  • $25 per person

Woodinville Garden Club Annual Garden Tour

  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 16
  • Self-guided tour of five private gardens
  • $20 per person

Federal Way Symphony Annual Garden Tour

  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 16
  • Visit six private gardens (with music)
  • Marianne Binetti speaks at 10:30 a.m.
  • $21 per person

Edmonds Bloom Garden Tour

  • 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 17
  • Self-guided tour through six private gardens
  • $15 per person

Ethel Dupar Fragrant Garden Tour

  • July 30
  • Wheelchair accessible with signage in Braille
  • Free

Bellevue Urban Demonstration Garden

  • Aug. 13
  • Demonstrations, with either guided tour or walk through
  • Free, children welcome

Two wonderful places to visit anytime are the Bellevue Botanical Garden (53 acres) and the Washington Park Arboretum (230 acres.) Both are free and staff members are very helpful.

Search the names of the individual events online for phone numbers, addresses and more information.

Get out and see what others are doing. It almost has to change the way you think, and that’s probably a good thing. Who knows? You might see melted watches hanging from trees ala Salvador Dali. You don’t need to use the idea, but it could somehow broaden your gardening horizons.

What to know

Master Gardener clinics are every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Squak Mountain Nursery and from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Issaquah Farmers Market. (There won’t be any clinics in August at Squak Mountain.)

Jane Garrison is a local landscape architect who gardens in glacial till on the plateau.

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