Quilts to complement gardens in biennial tour

Unique Mukilteo tour features 7 gardens, more than 100 quilts
By Nicholas Johnson | Jul 12, 2017
Photo by: Nicholas Johnson Quilts featured in this year’s Mukilteo Garden & Quilt Tour sit on wooden chairs at the Hale Garden in Mukilteo. At left is “Painted Ladies,” by Dianne Grant. At right is “Feathered Friends,” by Rhonda Anya.

A combined tour of gardens and quilts is something like a rare flower: it only blooms once every two years, demands lots of sunshine and has almost never been spotted outside the Mukilteo area.

“People will come from states away to see this because it is so unique,” said quilter Kay Davidson, co-chair of the tour’s board, which is made of members of the Mukilteo Way Garden Club and the Mukilteo Lighthouse Quilters Guild.

“I’ve heard of music and garden tours and garden art tours, but I can’t say I’ve heard of many quilt and garden tours,” quilter and fellow board member Ann Lindquist said of Mukilteo’s Garden & Quilt Tour, which is set for this weekend, July 15-16.

This year’s tour is the sixth since the two Mukilteo nonprofits joined forces in 2006 to organize the first tour in 2007. Susan Palmer, a member of the quilters guild since its founding in 2004, had been searching for ways to reach out to the community when she stumbled upon a mention of the garden club, which was founded in 1933, in the Mukilteo Beacon.

“It occurred to me that most quilters are also gardeners,” Palmer said

After getting the go-ahead from her fellow quilters, Palmer approached the garden club in September 2006 with the idea of a joint event that would benefit both groups.

“We all walked away saying, “This sounds like a fun idea to try,” garden club member Jean Skerlong said. “We thought the two crafts would be a perfect mix.”

Skerlong’s home garden and some 11 others were featured that first year, along with about 100 quilts.

“In the beginning, each club member would take 10 tickets and try to sell them to their friends,” Skerlong said, noting that some 435 people attended that first year. “The response was just so positive, so we have kept it going every other year.”

This year’s tour features seven gardens – three in Mukilteo and four in Everett – and some 130 quilts, some of which are comfort quilts that will be less prominently displayed. The guild donates about 100 comfort quilts each year to vulnerable children, foster kids who graduate high school, and senior citizens through Hand In Hand, Safe Place and Senior Services of Snohomish County.

The tour is anchored by a show of 30 more quilts at Rosehill Community Center, which is also home to a quilt garden called “Crossing Paths,” which was designed and installed in 2011 by the garden club to represent the two groups’ coming together to host this tour.

Aside from selling $20 tickets on Saturday and Sunday, Rosehill will also host a raffle for some 13 garden- and quilt-related prizes. Advance tickets are available online for $15, or at any of nine participating retail locations, including Ace Hardware in Mukilteo.

Featured gardens in Mukilteo include the Newsome Garden, which boasts views of the water, mountains, ferries and Whidbey Island, and the Hale Garden, which sits on the historic site of a 1900s vacation destination called Balls Park with Brewery Creek, the water source for the first brewery in Washington Territory, flowing through an adjacent gulch.

The Hale Garden will feature 9 group-made quilts with each block of the quilt made by a different member of the quilters guild.

“None of the quilters see the final product until it’s complete at the end of the year,” Lindquist said. “They never know exactly what it will look like until it’s done.”

Also in Mukilteo is the Brookfield-Jordan Garden, where a pair of Colorado transplants have created a peaceful retreat featuring native Northwest plants and garden art.

“It feels like an oasis that you can’t see from the street because it’s tucked away,” Lindquist said of the Brookfield-Jordan Garden. “And the quilts there will reflect the art in the garden.”

Sherri Jordan and her husband Gary Brookfield hadn’t heard of the tour until seeing a call for gardens in the Beacon last year.

“I thought, “It’s never going to look better than it does now, so let’s do it,” Jordan said. “We’ve worked hard on it over the past 23 years and feel pretty good about it now.”

The garden features several themed planting berms divided by crushed rock pathways and defined by river rocks. It also features locally made garden art by artists such as Barbara Sanderson and Dennis Cant. But it’s the bushes and trees that Jordan and Brookfield love most.

“One of the things that hit me when we moved here were the flowering bushes and trees,” Jordan said. “We don’t have those in Colorado.”

Their garden will feature some 38 quilts, including quilts by Cathy Carter using different colored fabrics throughout the same pattern.

“Hers are a great example of how quilters play with color to get different dimensional aspects,” Lindquist said.

Featured gardens in Everett include the Getz Garden, which will host novelty quilts with themes such as Christmas, Halloween and Seahawks. The Tallman Garden has been called “The Butchart Gardens of Everett” and has been certified as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. It shares a fence with the Larsen Garden, which has grown to compliment its neighbor over the years with an expanse of textures and colors from perennials, annuals, shrubs and vegetables.

Most of the quilts in Tallman garden are made with fabric by artist Kaffe Fassett, who is known for his vivid and colorful designs.

“His pallet is inspired by colorful gardens,” Davidson said, noting that the Larsen Garden will feature a hand-stitched wool quilt, among others.

Also in Everett is the Janowicz Garden, which was featured in the 2011 tour.

“Their garden was so amazing that we asked them to participate again,” Skerlong said.

When Carol and Ted Janowicz moved into their home 14 years ago, the sloped backyard was filled with ivy and red twig dogwoods.

“It was so dense you couldn’t see to the bottom of the hill,” Ted said. “One day, I decided to hack my way down there. I heard these thundering hooves and just then a deer came jumping out at me. It scared me half to death.”

Since then, the Janowiczs have developed the land into a dense collection of perrenials, Japanese maples, Beech trees and a few annuals for added color. Pathways lead visitors along a terraced hillside and a man-made stream that runs into a goldfish-filled pond.

“The bigger ones sometimes end up a snack for the herons,” Carol said of her goldfish.

Lindquist said the garden’s emphasis on burgundies and lime greens will complement the modern and appliqué quilts chosen especially for that garden. And if that’s not enough, Ted and Carol say most visitors tell them that one visit isn’t enough to take in all the garden has to offer.

“We just love to share this place with others because most people can’t take the time to do something like this,” Carol said, noting that at this time of year she spends as many as nine hours working in her garden each day.

“I want it to be a whimsical and fun place where people can come and just marvel at the beauty.”

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