Gardens galore

Each year, the Orcas Island Garden Club finds a handful of unique yards to explore for its annual “Orcas in Bloom Garden Tour.”

This year’s event, themed “Enchanted Gardens,” features five landscapes that were selected to allow gardeners and foliage-lovers a chance to see a wide variety of gardens.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25 from 11 a.m.– 5 p.m., interested parties can tour the five gardens at their leisure. Tickets are $20 and are available at Driftwood Nursery, Darvill’s Bookstore, Smith and Speed Mercantile and Crow Valley Pottery. You can also purchase a ticket at any of the garden locations on the days of the tour.

The yearly affair brings an average of 250 visitors to private gardens scattered across Orcas Island and requires approximately 50 volunteers to keep organized. Revenue from tickets allows the garden club to bring in guest speakers to their meetings each month to speak on a variety of topics.

“The proceeds go right back into the community,” said tour co-chairwoman Sally Hodson. “It helps educate everybody.”

One of the landscapes on this year’s tour is Michael and Marie Brennan’s co-operative vegetable garden on Hawkins Lane. A pathway from the driveway to the backyard winds through a thicket of bamboo.

Green grass lawn spreads out from the back of the Brennans’ house toward an outdoor vegetable bed and a greenhouse. The Brennans’ neighbor plants and cares for some of the plants, both indoor and out. Below the greenhouse is a small cluster of fruit-bearing trees.

Another garden on the tour is that of Patty Miller and Ray Chavez on Olga Road. Set back away from the road is a large house that was originally intended to be a barn. Surrounding the house on the front and side are raised beds full of brightly colored flowers and accented with twisted metal work done by local artist Zack Leck. Behind the house are vegetable, native species and berry gardens. This lovely yard surrounded by forest and pasture and isn’t one to be missed.

Bruce and Marty Coffey’s Grindstone Harbor property features five cottages that were inspired by a 19th-century Swedish artist’s family home. The gardens around the homes were designed by local landscapers Greening &Greening.

Tom and Linda Harris’ home on Chartwell Lane makes the most of the rocky terrain above Spring Point. Mosses, succulents, grasses and trees grow among rocks in an “impossible garden setting.” Additionally, the Harris’ property features Asian and Northwest Native American sculptures.

A waterfront garden maintained by Tamara Dicaprio on Spring Point Road is a sculptural response to a difficult gardening situation. The rocky hillside is home to sculptures specially chosen for the scenery. It is an imagination playground, with a rock “waterfall” flowing down a steep hill into the water below.