Strolling a garden with a glass of champagne…is there anything better? Whenever my husband and I go to Molly Ward Gardens we plan to arrive 15 minutes ahead of our dinner reservation. We park, head into the old Barn converted into a dining room to get our wine, then head out the patio door into the first of many charming, twinkle-lit garden rooms.
The dining patio is constructed of eclectic, salvaged materials: mismatched bricks, broken stones and lumber scraps. One of the arbors is artfully formed of unpeeled branches and logs, though at this time of the year you can hardly tell its structure for the bountiful wisteria. Part of the patio’s built backdrop is a screen of rough, uneven lumber pocked with old windows. Plants spring from every nook and cranny. The patio is a charming place to lunch or to enjoy dinner on a warm summer evening.
Sam and Lynn Ward are the proprietors of Molly Ward Gardens, our favorite restaurant in Kitsap County. They purchased their 4.5 acre property in 1990 and worked immediately to convert the cavernous old barn into a dining room, kitchen, storage and guest rooms on the lower level, their flat above. That both Lynn and Sam are creative as well as hard working is not lost on any who knows that in that 20 years, they have built an amazing restaurant and to-die-for gardens.
Molly Ward Gardens has hosted many weddings. It’s no wonder—the space is romantic, blowsy, naturalistic and has a plant-lover’s sensibility. The food is elegant and delicious. When the Ward’s originally moved to Poulsbo, Lynn ran her flower design studio here and her arranging prowess shines in the garden. Over the years I have enjoyed seeing the garden expand into new spaces for hosting garden parties, always with an inspiring artistic hardscape feature—ledgestone fountain, mosaic retaining wall.
Meandering from room to room reveals the arbor covered patio with its elaborate pattern of bricks and stone, perfect for nuptials or other special toast amongst friends. Next project: on the spot where a tired barn has collapsed, Lynn and Sam envision a pond and waterfall. The towering Western Red Cedar with impressive girth will provide a natural focal point. Can’t wait to watch the area transformed, little by little over the next year or so with my glass of champagne. Did I tell you the evening ends with coffee and crème brulee? Yep, that’s the foodie’s equivalent to “and they lived happily ever after”.
Molly Ward Gardens
27462 Big Valley Road
Poulsbo, WA 98370
Summertime Hours of Operation: Wed – Sun Dinner 5:30pm to 9:00pm; Lunch 11am-2pm; Sunday Brunch: 10:30am to 2:00 pm. Call ahead for seasonal hours; reservations recommended
© Colleen Miko, 2011