Symphony picks out garden spots


Special to the Mirror

Planning for the third annual Federal Way Symphony Garden Tour started long before the autumn leaves fell from the city’s trees.

According to Monte Powell, co-chairman of the event since its inception, the search for unique or outstanding gardens is a year-long quest.

“We have such a variety of gardens in our area,” Powell said. “Some are the creations of real master gardeners, and others are the work of some very talented amateurs.”

This year’s garden tour is scheduled for next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The $15 tickets, along with directions to the garden sites, are available from the symphony office or at outlets in the community, including Westfair Home Decor and Gifts at Gateway Center, Oriental Gardens at Pacific Highway South and South 308th Street, and Coffee Europa at Pacific Highway South and South 304th Street.

A front entrance surrounded by rhododendrons, colorful hanging baskets peeking out from under the eaves of a North Tacoma house, a spectacular Puget Sound view, a shade garden of ferns and hostas and a deck loaded with container plants add up to one of the gardens, by Marian and James Oberg, that’s included in this year’s tour.

The tour features six Federal Way and Northeast Tacoma gardens, each one finding artistic solutions to location problems.

Paul and Jan Reising’s garden is such an example. The terrain was difficult but raised planting beds solved some of the problems of accessibility. A pergola harbors an enormous vine-covered arch.

Dirk and Mary Lou VanWoerden have made the most of doing without a lawn. Their seaside garden has ornamental grasses that sway with the breeze and a deck overlooking their formal rose garden. Perennial beds, shrubbery and mature rhododendrons complete the layout.

The garden of Jim and Angie Eichholz is the result of years of dedication invested in its broad terraces, a densely planted slope to take advantage of the sun’s rays, and a greenhouse. Tropical plants are wintered over and brought out in the spring.

An added plus at the Eicholz garden: Symphony volunteers will be serving refreshments, and a restroom will be available.

The drive to the garden created by Carolyn Acosta and Dave McEniry at the south end of Federal Way will reveal one spacious acre of land given over to everything from a rock garden to a woodland shade garden. Included are vegetables and fruit trees, a circular garden and water feature, and a serene greenbelt adding to the sense of quiet and privacy.

Markie Ann Brown and Patrick Paylow have a garden edged with a sparkling white picket fence and containing roses roses spread across the front of the house and scrambling up arbors, trellises and fences. This former Seattle Times award-winner is wheelchair-accessible.

“I never cease to be amazed by our beautiful gardens. They are Federal Way’s hidden treasure,” said tour co-chairwoman Nancy Ise, a longtime member of the orchestra and its board of directors.

“We are really proud of the gardens we are presenting this year,” said Powell. “They represent hours of loving labor by local green thumbs, and opening them up to the public is a true gift to our community.”

Proceeds from the tour are also a gift to the community in the form of continuing support for the 70-member symphony. The professional orchestra offers six concerts a year at St. Lukes Church. Music conductor A. Brian Davenport notes that with one exception, each concert is a double performance, scheduled for 8 p.m. the first Saturday of the month, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. One of the scheduled performances is a Sunday evening-only chamber concert.

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