Gig Harbor Garden Tour

Gardens — Oh, the Stories They Tell

Rose garden, pond and waterfall in the Becks' garden
Rose garden, pond and waterfall in the Becks’ garden

This year’s Gig Harbor Garden Tour is going to tell some enticing stories about gardens and how they came to be. Each garden, no matter how small or large, simple or exquisite, has a story to tell.

Now in its 21st year, the Gig Harbor Garden Tour has recruited seven local hosts, who are opening their gardens and their hearts to help raise grant money for literacy projects in the greater Gig Harbor Peninsula area.

Each garden has a wonderful back story and each person who attends will be inspired by the variety, design and imagination of this year’s host gardeners.

Flower boxes on the Dreyers' front porch
Flower boxes on the Dreyers’ front porch

A Movable Garden

Norene Scott will impress those who are challenged to “downsize” a large garden to a smaller one. Many gardeners deal with this challenge as they grow older.

The Scotts had a very large garden on Fox Island and moved last year to a smaller place in Gig Harbor. Norene Scott, an avid gardener, prepared a fresh palette by regrading and refurbishing the soil in the new garden. Then she planned carefully and brought quite a few of her plants from the old garden into her new scheme, especially many of her favorite Japanese maples.

Pagoda in Claudia Thompson's garden
Pagoda in Claudia Thompson’s garden

A Tale of Two Gardeners

The Becks’ garden was on the tour in 2007 and all who saw it then will be amazed at the transformation that has taken place. This is the tale of two gardeners who have combined their talents and tastes into an eclectic wonderland of color and delight.

Each time you turn a corner, you will find something of interest, whether it is a darling greenhouse, a magnificent pond and waterfall, a formal rose garden or lush lawns bordered by colorful perennials. There are also new raised vegetable beds and a new white garden — homage to Princess Diana.

Nina Dreyer's fairy garden
Nina Dreyer’s fairy garden

The Little Garden That Grew

Claudia Thompson’s Canterwood garden was a fairly easy garden to maintain when she moved in over 10 years ago. But somehow it didn’t want to stay that way. She soon realized that the blessing and the curse of a gardener is not to simply enjoy a garden.

“We were compelled to rethink, dream and get our hands dirty,” Thompson says.

The careful selection of plants assures that something is in bloom every month of the year. Thompson wants her garden to have constant fragrance, be an inviting place for birds and people and provide a place of beauty and calm for visitors to sit and enjoy life.

A Rather Shady Story

The Osterichers’ story begins with the good fortune of finding a lot where much of the natural border around the perimeter was preserved. This gives their garden privacy from the street and from the golf course at the back of the property.

Clematis in the Osterichers' garden
Clematis in the Osterichers’ garden

They added other natives and nonnatives for year-round color, interest and value for wildlife. In the past 25 years, the native evergreens grew tall so now the theme of the garden has become “shade and partial shade.” Two ponds, streams and waterfalls give sanctuary for the many birds and other wildlife, as well as human visitors.

Tapestry of plants in Norene Scott's garden
Tapestry of plants in Norene Scott’s garden

A Love Story

The Lightfeldts’ garden on Horsehead Bay reflects the style of the house and has grown from the vision of a beloved daughter who designed it. Foliage, texture and shape are more important here than color. Stone and crushed granite paths were chosen for their natural look.

The daughter, McKenzie, died before the project was underway but her parents have finally completed the garden and the house to give life to her vision. It’s a peaceful place with an upper cabana complete with tiny kitchen and fireplace for entertaining, a waterfront patio on the beach with a boathouse and fishpond and several levels of decks for viewing. This garden is a true labor of love.

"Born to Garden" sign in Karen Beck's greenhouse
“Born to Garden” sign in Karen Beck’s greenhouse

A Success Story

This should really be called a fairy tale. It has a young heroine named Nina, who, when she was a teenager, dreamed of having a house of her own. So she saved up her babysitting money and put a down payment on a piece of land in the Cromwell area.

Years later, she bought a little house that was up for demolition and had it moved over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Now the house and garden truly look like a fairy tale came to life. There are roses and bees, chickens and ducks, picket fences and even a miniature fairy garden. The Dreyers’ garden will bring out the happy child in you.

Larry Beck's tree trunk fairy house
Larry Beck’s tree trunk fairy house

A Harbor Adventure

It was a dark and stormy night when a huge branch fell through the roof of the Williams house. It could have been a catastrophe but it turned out for the best, with a home remodel and a restructuring of the front yard into a classy, low-maintenance garden — perfect for the contemporary look of the house.

Gig Harbor Garden TourGraceful grasses grow happily in the sunshine, along with lavender, perovskia, hebe and santolina. The back garden is a different story: Paths take you on explorations through a variety of great plants while levels of decking afford a sea captain’s view of Vashon and Point Defiance.

A place of quiet reflection in the Lightfeldts' garden
A place of quiet reflection in the Lightfeldts’ garden

The Cause: Literacy

When you buy a ticket to see and hear the tales of the beautiful gardens of Gig Harbor and the surrounding area, you are also providing the joy of reading to a worthy child or adult. Last year’s recipients included five elementary schools in the area: Discovery, Purdy, Voyager, Vaughn and Minter Creek. Grants also went to Pediatrics Northwest and to the Harbor History Museum.

Get Involved

To find out how to volunteer as a docent or greeter at one of the gardens, please see and click on “participate.”

Gig Harbor Garden Tour 2018

  • Saturday, June 23, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 24, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Tickets went on sale June 1 online at and at Ace Hardware, The Garden Room, Rosedale Gardens, Tickled Pink, Wilco Farm Store and Wild Birds Unlimited in Gig Harbor; Sunnycrest Nursery in Lakebay; Garden Sphere Nursery in Tacoma; Willow Tree Gardens and Interiors in University place.
  • Tickets: $25 each; $20 each for groups of 10 or more
  • Vendors selling garden-related items and crafts will be located at some of the larger gardens. Some of them include Nature’s Lover Clay Works with lovely local pottery and Blue Frog Nursery with great specialty plants including Japanese maples.