Garden Club Award winners dazzle again in 2022

Garden Club Award winners dazzle again in 2022

Through its educational programs and charitable projects, the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club encourages fun and interest in gardening while also teaching Islanders environmentally sound practices and how to conserve native plants and wildlife.

Each year, at an awards dinner, the Club honors outstanding private and commercial gardeners and non-members for their outstanding horticultural practices.

The club winners for 2022 are:

Erin Blazer and Doug McAllister

When they moved to the island in 2012, Erin and Andy Blazer found themselves surrounded by massive spruce, alder and cedar trees on their large property on the south end.

By treating portions of their growing garden, it became clear that shade-tolerant, deer-resistant plantings were essential. Erin’s father, Doug McAllister, visited the house monthly to help, bringing with him a collection of outdoor art treasures and various plants that he acquired from long hours spent in his favorite nurseries.

In 2020, the Blazers and Erin’s parents decided that an intergenerational complex was ideal for both families. When construction began on the McAllisters’ new home, father and daughter continued their partnership to beautify the surrounding grounds.

Distinctive seating areas have been created. Vibrant grasses, ferns and barberries were scattered among the salal and other native ground covers. Ten species of maple trees have been added, along with cherry trees, dogwoods, and deodara cedar trees. Today, lush lawns provide space for children to play, while picnic tables and a decorative fire pit promote outdoor family dining. These two families now coexist – their shared compound is a success, and their garden is a testament to the hard work of the father and daughter team.

Jerry Gehrke and Carol Schwennesen

Jerry thought gardening would be a great hobby in retirement. His wife, Carol, is an artist who loves flowers. Together they built a beauty space that runs smoothly but also serves as a bustling laboratory.

Their spacious backyard offers an array of linear raised beds, filled with thriving vegetables in various stages of netting and curtains, providing security from weather and pests. Dwarf and full-sized nectarine trees enclosed in expertly designed structures protect the fruit from autumn rains and the dreaded leaf curl.

Floating in the middle of it all are mason bees happily helping pollinate the fruits and vegetables in this highly productive garden. As a founding member of the Vashon Fruit Club, as well as a coordinator for the Mason Bee Pollinator Program, Jerry is a valuable asset and inspiration to gardeners.

Beth White

In 1982, Beth moved to her current home near Lisabuela and began her endeavor to transform the blackberry-filled land into an oasis of sustenance and spirit.

Beth’s design evolved as she sought to understand how the garden would flow. Distinctive garden rooms have been created with paths lined with rhododendrons, herbs and colorful pots of tulips. Arbors laden with wisteria and climbing hydrangea, plus an entry trellis covered in climbing roses and false kiwi, lead to a perennial mixed bed of well-tended dahlias, peonies and roses and a thriving vegetable patch.

Beth’s garden is an experience of reverence for the graceful beauty she has nurtured throughout the year.

Austin Smith and Arin Der Hagopian

In just four short years, Austin and Arin have transformed their property into a mix of a colorful cottage garden with a tranquil woodland forest.

Upon entering through the front gate, a bright color palette captivates the senses, artfully arranged in overflowing pots of sunflowers, geraniums, and petunias.

Winding paths lead through beds of carefully sourced lilies, hydrangeas, ornamental grasses and other perennials. Stone paths wind through raised beds of cloves, poppies and alstroemeria, accompanied by productive vegetable gardens and sunken stone cylinders. The orchard of fruit trees includes a well-kept rose garden. A clump of thuja gracefully secures the property’s northern boundary, while a massive wooden fence keeps deer out to the west.

The lower paths weave through a haven of ferns, giant artillery and hostas, all combined with maples, dogwoods, Himalayan birches and a wonderful array of evergreens.

Austin and Arin have designed a garden that nourishes the eye and soothes the soul.

Annual plant selling soon

The annual plant sale and fundraiser for the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club — always a special day for Island gardeners — will take place from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 6 at the Island Home Center & Lumber.

In the sale, gardeners will find greenhouse-grown vegetable starters, a colorful variety of annual flowers, and much more.

Proceeds from this sale go to the Garden Club’s community outreach programs. The Vashon-Maury Garden Club seeks to educate its members about plant culture and design, practice native plant and wildlife conservation, and promote the principles of environmentally sound gardening within our community.

To learn more about the work of the Garden Club, and to join or renew your membership, visit

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