Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Skagit Symphony String Quartet
We were so glad to wake up on Sunday and find that the rain had given up to sun and clouds in a blue sky because we had gotten tickets to the Skagit Symphony Garden Tour and we were not looking forward to taking the tour using our umbrellas.  But it turned out to be a perfect day and we headed to our first home in the Skagit Valley farmland just south of Mt. Vernon.  This was a new home built in 2009 with an adjacent restored milk barn, now used for family and farm functions.  All the plantings were new and surrounded the home with views across the farmlands in all directions.   As we walked around taking photos and chatting with other garden lovers, we were treated to music provided by members of the Skagit Symphony..... as we would be in all of the five locations on the tour.  
The next home that we visited was a 1901 parsonage on Fir Island and had been restored and transformed into a residence and also the gardens were used for weddings.  The garden setting was enhanced by numerous garden ornaments and dramatic plantings with stepping stones amid the moss. 

Further along the delta was a 112 year old home that was purchased back in 1972 and lovingly restored to include an art studio and library which were both in a separate building from the main residence.  The library looked out into the apple orchard and the wall of books included many shelves of art books, a person that we felt akin to.   The barn was turned into an art gallery and we were able to enjoy an exhibition of Pastel Paintings by Christine Troyer.  One of the paintings won 4th place at the pastel 100 competition. 

Restored 1800's Home with Stained Glass Windows

This garden included ponds, sculpture, vegetable garden, and a succulent garden on the roof of an outbuilding.  There was also a second floor deck where the view over the fields was inspiring. 

 We then took a road up into the mountains past McMurray Lake where we saw a more intimate setting surrounding a log cabin.  The cabin was set in the deep woods and the woods had been carved away from the cabin to make room for the small garden spaces.   A pathway had been cut through the woods down to the creek and if you wanted to brave the mosquitos which were as large as flies, you could walk down through the mosses and ferns to the creekside. 

Graham and Treena Kerr's "Boat" Home

We chose to drive on to the final home which was owned by Graham and Treena Kerr.  You might remember Graham as the Galloping Gourmet which was a TV show many years ago.  Graham has made his career on cooking and writing about cooking but admits that he had never grown a vegetable in his life until he retired to the Skagit Valley.  His home is on Cascade Ridge and has an awe inspiring vista of the entire Skagit Valley including the mountains and sound beyond.   All the homes up on the ridge are probably 5000 sq feet except for his home which is 1400 sq feet and is shaped like a boat that he and Treena used to own earlier in their lives.    

Graham Kerr's Vegetable Garden

Graham is now devoted to his organic garden and is attempting to grow enough vegetables for his immediate family and also enough to donate to the food bank.  Because he had never grown anything before, he admits that he sought help in establishing the soil, building the raised beds, installing the greenhouse, and choosing the correct varieties to plant.  He has had some success and also some failures, but keeps copious notes in order to try again with those vegetables that are not as easy to grow. 

He has to fence his garden from the rabbits, deer, and other wildlife that cross the road from the woods looking for something to eat.   Graham's new book on his vegetable gardening adventures with recipes was available for sale and so of course we had to have one, especially with some of the profits going to benefit the symphony. 

Graham autographing his book for Sharon

Graham was on hand to autograph all of his books while demonstrating his solar oven which he uses to bake bread in terra cotta flower pots.  He says that the sandwiches are a strange shape but the bread is delicious.

After checking out the garden and greenhouse, we were able to continue around the back of the home where Treena was reading selections from her poetry.  It was an amazing day of music, gardens, and sunshine.

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