Arts and Entertainment

Federal Way Symphony's annual Garden Tour returns July 17

Eight Federal Way area private gardens and a presentation by Richie Steffen, a well-known personality on the Pacific Northwest horticulture scene, will be featured at the Saturday, July 17, at the Federal Way Symphony 11th annual Garden Tour. The tour will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $20 each. Call (253) 529-9857 or visit

Showcasing gardens

The event supports the Federal Way Symphony’s upcoming concert season.

“The tour is designed to showcase unique and different gardens while providing maximum opportunity for visitors to ask questions and learn about gardening,” Federal Way Symphony garden tour chairman Janice Burgess said. On hand at each garden will be several Washington State University Pierce County extension master gardeners who will field questions and provide advice, she said.

In an 11 a.m. presentation, titled “Great Plant Picks—Fantastic Foliage for Your Garden,” Steffen, curator of Seattle’s Elisabeth Carey Miller Botanical Garden, will share his secrets for combining plants for striking contrast, color and elegance. His program will be held in the Lakehaven Utility District’s conference room in Federal Way.

Nearby is the utility district’s water conservation garden where visitors can learn about composting and other natural yard care techniques from Jeanette Brizendine, a master recycler composter and the City of Federal Way recycling project manager. Also, a working worm composting bin will be on display.

Garden tour line-up

Shriver/Watson Garden, Federal Way. Colors and textures are highlighted through the inventive use of screens, arbors, pottery, sculptures, bottle trees and benches. A waterfall and fountains lend a sense of tranquility, and some unusual plants include gunnera, golden hops and kiwi. Many flowers were selected to attract hummingbirds, other Northwest birds and butterflies.

Rossi Garden, Federal Way. Creating several safe havens for wildlife and beneficial insects helps provide critical corridor pathways in this urban landscape. A driving desire for eco-friendly and low-maintenance gardening became the garden’s road map.

Lakehaven Utility District Water Conservation Garden, Federal Way. See plants that require little watering once established. Richie Steffen, curator of Seattle’s Elisabeth Carey Miller Botanical Garden, presents “Great Plant Picks—Fantastic Foliage for Your Garden” at 11 a.m. in the utility district conference room. Also, learn about composting and other natural yard care techniques from City of Federal Way Recycling Project Manager Jeanette Brizendine.

Hendricks Garden, Federal Way. Exotic plants abound as you meander through a garden that includes many varieties of eucalyptus, banana and palm trees. Ponds brim with a wide variety of water plants, balanced with the just the right amount of sunlight and aquatic life to create an ecosystem that does not need any chemicals to control algae or unwanted insects.

Treat/Scanlon Garden, northeast Tacoma. Pause in the lower garden comprised of many labeled plantings, a bubbling stream and a fishpond. Climb to the upper area of expansive lawn, framed by cherry trees, roses, camellias, viburnum and some native forest. A gazebo offers a view of Maury Island.

Matonti Garden, northeast Tacoma. Enjoy the whimsy of this cottage garden, which blooms year-round and incorporates ideas and treasures from the owner’s visits to gardens worldwide. You’ll find specially named garden areas and several dozen named roses.

Wenski Garden, northeast Tacoma. See how this garden adapted to the challenges of a corner lot that has a slope and areas ranging from shady and wet to dry. The garden features a long curving concrete retaining wall in the back, large natural stones in the front, layers of plantings to soften the landscape, movable plant containers, a small patio and a view of Puget Sound.

McFarland Garden, northeast Tacoma. This modest yard offers lots to its visitors. The owners created an environment of relaxing privacy with cozy nooks for reflection or entertainment by using soothing water features, beautiful bamboo varieties and handcrafted birdhouses and yard art.

Strong Garden, Federal Way. Native plants and trees create a habitat for small wildlife on this half-acre garden. The multi-level, private backyard of natural landscape, enhanced by many granite rockeries, lead the visitor upward to Asian and seashore-themed areas and a gazebo with a view of the Olympic Mountains.

Local artisan vendors will be at gardens 2, 3, 4 and 5 with native plants, unusual perennials and annuals, handcrafted wood planters, honey, sculptural pottery and other garden art made from recycled metal and blown glass.

For more information about the garden tour, call the symphony office at (253) 529-9857.

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