Discover garden secrets around Port Angeles in Petals and Pathways Garden Tour on Saturday
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Dee Sudduth/Master Gardeners
Bill and Nancy Helwick stand surrounded by their garden, one of seven on this Saturday's Petals and Pathways Garden Tour.

By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News

THE PUBLIC CAN visit seven gardens on the Master Gardeners' annual Petals and Pathways tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets for the self-guided tour are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the tour.

Locations of the gardens, all in the Port Angeles area, will be revealed only with the purchase of a ticket.

Tickets can be purchased in Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend.

■ Port Angeles — Gross's Florist and Nursery, Airport Nursery, Greenhouse Nursery, Port Book and News, Country Aire and the WSU Extension office at the Clallam County Courthouse.

■ Sequim — Over the Fence, Red Rooster, Sunny Farms, Nash's Organic Produce, Peninsula Nursery and Vision Nursery.

■ Port Townsend — Henery Do it Best Hardware.

Tickets also can be purchased online at

Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Gardening has been a process of discovery for Bill and Nancy Helwick.

Since the two moved into their Port Angeles home three years ago, they have uncovered many treasures in their yard overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and added a few of their own.

In the process, the couple — one of seven inviting visitors into their gardens during the Petals and Pathways Garden Tour on Saturday — also discovered they loved gardening.

The yard was so overgrown with about a decade of foliage that “we discovered a rhododendron in the backyard that we didn't even know we had,” Nancy said.

Bill went to work cutting back and clearing to reveal an artful answer to a steep hillside.

Native boulders define five water-lily-studded ponds with 11 small waterfalls to create a soothing park of maples, evergreens, laurel, flowers and at least a dozen rhododendron trees.

“That's my gardening talent: trimming back,” said Bill, who said he now spends at least four hours a day in the yard during the summer when once he insisted on low-maintenance lawns.

“I wasn't a gardener before I moved in,” he said.

From the deck at the top of the backyard, which is hidden from the street, one can see sweeping vistas ranging from Vancouver Island to Mount Baker.

At the bottom of the hill, one can relax in a comfortable garden swing and rest in the sight of a riot of varying shades of green punctuated by bright blooms while basking in the tranquil sounds of water and birds.

“It's very peaceful,” Nancy said. “It makes me feel I'm at our lake cabin.”

The water draws myriad birds, from black birds to Stellar jays to robins, to bathe in the ponds.

Bill remembers watching baby birds tumble over a small waterfall while learning how to move in the water and tells of hummingbirds that dart in and out in a shimmer.

Hidden spotlights pick up gleams from the water at night, “when it's like a fairyland,” Nancy said.

“Our grandkids say it's like Disneyland,” she added.

Dahlias back home

In the front yard are well-traveled dahlias that, like the Helwicks, seem to appreciate returning home.

Nancy's father had raised dahlias at his home on Oak Street in Port Angeles.

When the Helwicks, both of whom are 1957 graduates of Port Angeles High School, moved to California, he gave them some bulbs.

In Danville, Calif., where the Helwicks operated a business for many years, the dahlias never grew more than 3 feet high.

Brought back to Port Angeles, they soared, even after the bulbs were left in a basement for a year.

The bulbs — which must be a half-century old by now — flourish each year into plants that can reach 6 feet tall and raise the spirits of passersby with vibrant pink blooms.

That's only one of the gardens on this year's Master Gardeners' tour.

Variety of gardens

They range from sites near Olympic National Park southeast of central Port Angeles to locations off O'Brien Road and Shore Road to the east.

Visitors will not only enjoy spectacular views but also “will have the opportunity to see how these gardeners have coped with a variety of terrain problems and how they have taken steps to garden in ways that protect natural resources and wildlife,” said Master Gardener Muriel Nesbitt, who provided descriptions of the gardens.

Two of the gardens — those of Chuck and Darlene Whitney and of Mike and Beth McBride — are at 750 feet in elevation.

■ The Whitneys have developed a large and flourishing vineyard, a fruit orchard and a formal garden featuring 32 hybrid roses.

They also have a large compost and mulch complex.

On Saturday, Clallam County Master Gardeners composters will be on hand to answer questions about composting.

■ The McBrides “have created a garden embraced by nature,” Nesbitt said.

Along with a mountain view, they have extensive deer fencing, a mixture of native plants and seasonally colorful shrubs and perennials.

They improved the soil with years of applications of compost and mulch and “cleverly built raised planting beds out of black basalt rock, which helps to warm the soil,” Nesbitt said.

■ Bob and Karen Larsen transformed their property of more than 2 acres from what it was seven years ago — harvested forest and a logging road — to a refuge.

“Now it is a feast for the eyes and soul with introduced native trees and shrubs, flagstone seating area and nicely designed pathways,” Nesbitt said.

■ Glen and Bev Dawson began with a flat, featureless area of grass. Six years later, it is a fruitful garden with a wide variety of perennials and specimen plants, an orchard and dahlias.

The landscape is “peppered with whimsical yard art nestled here and there among the plantings,” Nesbitt said.

■ Russell and Teena Woodward have created a bee- and bird-friendly sanctuary on 5 acres that feature a collection of unusual shade-loving plants under a forest of mature conifers — including a giant sequoia and a small forest of cedars and hemlock.

Pathways are lined with garden art and birdhouses.

■ Joe and Deb Yuch bought a 2-acre empty lot eight years ago. Now it is a garden with private nooks and alcoves connected by meandering paths.

Garden art includes colorful inlaid stepping stones amid a small forest of transplanted trees, including fruit trees, and an array of colorful plants.

For more information, visit


Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at

Last modified: June 27. 2014 9:14PM
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