South Kitsap Garden Tour: a Peek into my Garden

Saturday the 21st, Eric and I hosted 50 or so guests from the

Photo by Gary Beanland of KCHS tour attendees on our back steps

South Kitsap Garden Tour put on by the Kitsap County Historical Society (KCHS).  We were one of four featured gardens and honored to help support the organization.  Everyone was so appreciative and friendly, the arrangements so smooth—we thoroughly enjoyed it.  Our only lament is that we didn’t make it to see the other gardens.

Anita Williams from KCHS introduces Eric & I. Photo by Gary Beanland

This is the second time we’ve been part of a local garden tour and it’s a wonderful incentive to knock out neglected chores and pull out the stops. There’s nothing quite like external motivation!  But preparing to open your private garden to the public also causes one to scrutinize it; noticing the flaws more than the strengths and saying “If only I had used more deer repellent…It figures that the slugs got my oriental lilies this of all years…and why do we always get a heat wave when we leave town?”  With a lovely crowd like the KCHS, the criticism was our own.  If they noticed the flowerbed that is suffering from the dual calamities of a broken underground water pipe and the horribly invasive Alstroemeria, they sweetly withheld judgement.  

2 Dutchmen’s Pipe Vines grow on our garage arbor

I was asked many plant ID questions, and luckily, they were for genus and species names that I still recall.  The plant that is above and away most remarked upon in our garden is the Aristolochia durior (Dutchman’s pipe vine) that grows on the garage arbor.  I have never understood why this vine isn’t grown more in the Northwest—it’s lush, lovely and easy.  The huge, heart shaped leaves turn butter yellow in the fall; their size makes raking a piece of cake. The rest of the year the billowing foliage takes the edge off our oversized garage and roots the building in the garden.

Ligularia dentata 'Britt Marie Crawford'

 The purple-leafed Ligularia dentata ‘Britt Marie Crawford’ (Golden Groundsel) at our front entry was in full bloom, its saffron daisies drawing honeybees and comments.  The true blue flowers of Ceratostigma willmottianum (Chinese Plumbago) in the dry garden elicited a few ogles. 

Chinese Plumbago does its thing

The two, unusual evergreen groundcovers bordering the north side of our home and sun deck were also popular.  Euonymous ‘Kewensis’ is slowly creeping over itself to create odd, sculptural mounds next to a patch of Baccharis magellanica, a hard-to-find work horse from South America.  If there are other “What was that plant?” questions, post a comment here and I’d be glad to help out (if my memory serves me).

The lumpy surface of Euonymous 'Kewensis' groundcover

Susan Daniel and Gary Beanland took a slew of great photographs of the tour.  Please visit Susan and Gary’s photo site Camera Bean at the following link for more great images of the gardens, their creators and the lovely folks in attendance.

Thank you to those who organized and attended the tour for the Kitsap County Historical Society; we were flattered to be part of the event and enjoyed meeting so many nice people.  We love to share our garden.

About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is freelance garden writer and speaker.
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4 Responses to South Kitsap Garden Tour: a Peek into my Garden

  1. Very cool getting an appreciative and curious crowd to enjoy your garden. I enjoy gardening for myself, but it’s a really different experience when you get to host a group of like-minded people. You look like you’re having a great time in the photos!

    I love lumpy groundcovers, and your euonymous is gorgeous. At a distance it reminds me of some of the California sedges I’m trying to convince John would make a great substitute for our last little pathetic patch of lawn.

    • Colleen Miko says:

      It is fun to host a tour and get the feedback, especially when they appreciate parts of the garden you take for granted or don’t think much of.

      I remember a sedge in San Diego that was used as an unmowed groundcover alot! It had a great “flow” to it when used in sweeps. The texture was soft and very appealing–I say go for it!

  2. carla acquafresca says:

    My mom sent me an article she tore out of a magazine about dahlias. I recently misplaced it or more likely got thrown out by my boyfriend, but i absolutely loved it. I too was captured by this amazing flower a few years back and in your article you made a reference to that. The way in which you worded that described exactly how i felt.

    She sent it to me this past spring, but i believe it was an older article.

    If at all possible, is there any way you could e-mail it to me? I searched your sight but was unable to find.

    • Colleen Miko says:

      Hi Carla,
      Years ago I wrote an article for WestSound Home & Garden Magazine about how to divide Dahlias–as instructed by a great Port Orchard gardener and Dahlia nut, Alan Lowe. It featured a lot of wonderful photos that my friends Susan Daniel and Gary Beanland (Alan’s neighbors) took of his mind-blowing Dahlias. My guess is that’s the article you are referring to. If you think that’s it, let me know, and I’ll see if I can’t rummage up a copy for you. Cheers! Colleen

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