Garden, quilt tour reflects Northwest’s artistic spirit

By Paul Archipley | Jul 10, 2019
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson Lois Brown, a Master Gardener, has many things that make her garden unique – particularly in her front yard.

Featuring eight gardens and over 100 quilts, this year’s Mukilteo Garden & Quilt Tour celebrates creativity and color – a tribute to the artistic spirit that permeates life in the Great Northwest.

Visitors can expect to see a variety of tastes reflecting their creators’ visions, whether it be a melding of garden art and nature in Skip Kidd & Lynette Gardiner’s soothing Certified Backyard Sanctuary or Cathy Carter and Susan Palmer’s “Lest We Forget,” a post 9-11 patriotic quilt.

One of the most interesting gardens, perhaps, is Lois Brown’s small garden in Mukilteo’s Old Town. Brown, a Master Gardener who often is referred to as Mukilteo’s own Martha Stewart because of her creative eye from the kitchen to the garden, focuses on extensive use of pots that help broaden the garden’s color and texture within the property’s confining space.

She has managed to expand her garden’s boundaries by “borrowing” plants and trees located on her neighbors’ properties as background, essentially incorporating the surrounding area into the overall appearance of her own garden.

She also is making changes to her garden to reduce the time needed for upkeep.

“As I’ve grown older, I’ve edited out plants that are harder to maintain,” she said.

A founding member of the Mukilteo Community Garden, Brown is generous in sharing her knowledge to anyone who asks. During the two-day tour, visitors to her garden will find the various plantings identified on stakes. (Don’t forget to bring your cell phone to take photos of the plants and labels.)

In particular, Brown is a fan of “architectural plants,” often evergreens, which are distinctive because of their bark coloration or branch shape or because they provide interest and color during dull winter months. Ask her to point them out when you visit her garden.

Also on the tour: Jim & Carla Phillips’ garden, which ranges from a more formal garden in front to a backyard reserved for entertaining and relaxing; Bill & Pattye Snyder’s garden, which features roses (Pattye’s passion), dahlias (Bill’s preference) a tropical area, glass art and more; Brian & Barbara Moore’s garden, primarily a spring flowering garden that includes plenty of rhododendrons and mature plantings; Dennis & Sandy Erickson’s “hodgepodge” garden that reflects their mercurial tastes, especially English and cottage garden styles; Tony & Quin Fisher’s garden, which features established trees, shrubs, hydrangeas, roses and rockeries, with the “crown jewel” being a maple tree estimated to be 250-300 years old; the previously mentioned Kidd-Gardiner garden, which features “rooms” that invite quiet, contemplative reflection; Rosehill Community Center’s grounds, which include the “Quilt Garden” that was designed and installed by the garden club; and, finally, an opportunity to visit the Mukilteo Community Garden, which features Giving Garden beds with produce for food banks and P-Patch beds rented out to garden lovers to grow their own fresh vegetables.

Throughout the tour, the quilters try to match quilts to complement the garden where they’re displayed. Quilting today is a much-updated version of the quilts of yesteryear when churchwomen gathered and handcrafted their quilts from start to finish.

Cathy Carter, who belongs to both the garden and quilting clubs, said today’s quilts generally are a combination of the artwork on top, some kind of batting in the middle and a backing to hold it all together. Carter, a “piecer,” uses a pattern to create the top but, like many others, she uses a quilter who has a quilting machine called a longarm that can then sew patterns onto that top piece.

“It’s fun and fascinating and I love it,” she said. “And it’s a challenge. It uses math. When you put the pieces together, it’s a puzzle.”

She said tour attendees will see some quilts done by highly-skilled quilters that deserve to be called art, truly impressive.

The tour, a biennial collaboration of the 86-year-old Mukilteo Way Garden Club and the Mukilteo Lighthouse Quilters, is a fundraiser for the two groups. The first collaborative tour took place in 2007.

The garden club uses its share to fund an annual horticultural scholarship. Brown said this year’s scholarship went to a young man from Yakima whose application she described as “very impressive.”

The quilters donate their quilts through charitable organizations helping foster children and senior citizens. This year, a small number of the quilts will be for sale.

It’s a unique idea. “As far as I know,” Brown said, “it’s the only quilt and garden tour around.”

About 1,000 tickets are available, and they typically sell out. People come from far and wide, including out-of-state visitors. Besides the tour, there will be a raffle of garden and quilt items at Rosehill Community Center, one of the tour stops.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour (if any are left). For tickets, go to They’re also available at: Sunnyside Nursery, the Quiltmaker’s Shoppe, Barbara’s Floral, Aunt Mary’s Quilt Shop, Mukilteo Ace Hardware, Quilting Mayhem and Sky Nursery.

Gardens will be open from 11-4 Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21.


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