JUNE ~ 2021
Special Garden Tour Issue
Hello, Summer ! ! !

Excitement is building as we get closer to June 26/27 and this year's Garden Tour -- New Beginnings, New Blossoms. We were disappointed that we were unable to have a tour last year because of the COVID pandemic, so we've pulled out all the stops to try to make this year's Garden Tour the best ever! It's not just a Tour -- it's a celebration of all the goodness Orcas gardeners and their gardens have to offer.

This issue is devoted to all things GARDEN TOUR. You'll find out where you can buy tickets, which gardens we'll be visiting, and some guidelines for safety so we can all enjoy ourselves. For the first time this year, there are extras at each of the gardens . . . music, art, scavenger hunts, gardening demonstrations. We'll also be raffling off 3 awesome baskets at the end of the Tour which you will read about below.

For over a decade, board member Sally Hodson has been co-chair of the Garden Tour planning team, so we wanted to tell you a bit about Sally and let her know how much we appreciate her dedication and excellent contributions to the community through the Garden Tour. If you see Sally while you're exploring the gardens, you can add your thanks to ours.

And finally, as we wrap up this season of newsletters, we take you behind the scenes and give you a sneak peek at the folks who have worked so hard to put these monthly newsletters together this year. If you've enjoyed browsing through your newsletter each month and would like to join the team next season, please let me know. The more, the merrier!

We hope you'll all join us on this year's Garden Tour. It's going to be terrific!!

May your gardens flourish and your hearts be full!
Nita Couchman
We are fast approaching our 2021 Safe Garden Tour weekend on Saturday, June 26th, and Sunday, June 27th.

We still need some additional volunteer docents at several of the gardens to help us make our tour a success. As a docent, you'll work with the garden owner and a team of other volunteers to welcome guests, sell and check tickets, coordinate parking and help guests learn about the garden.

Each of our volunteers will receive a free ticket so you can enjoy visiting the other gardens. Each docent will volunteer for a 3-hour shift on Saturday or Sunday, either from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, or, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

This year things will be a little different to ensure safety for garden owners, volunteers and guests as we enjoy the beauty of our island gardens. We are updating our safety guidelines to reflect the latest CDC and San Juan County directives.

Since our event is outdoors, masks will be optional. The number of visitors allowed inside each garden at a time will be based on the size and layout of the garden and will be limited to allow sufficient space for everyone to move about safely.

This year we won't be having a large-scale Pre-Tour. Instead, each small team (captain and docents) will arrange a mini pre-tour with the garden owner at your assigned garden.

We hope you'll join us to create a wonderful garden tour this year for all of us to enjoy. If you'd like to volunteer for the garden tour, please contact Sally ( or Laura (
After a year of struggling to live our lives under the threat of the COVID-19 virus, we have created a Safe Garden Tour for all of us to enjoy together and celebrate our love for plants.

The 2021 Orcas Island Garden Tour is on SATURDAY, JUNE 26 and SUNDAY, JUNE 27 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm both days.

This year we have five lovely gardens and a variety of special activities to share with you. As you visit each of our tour gardens, you will discover how each of these garden owners has created a unique vision for their garden that reflects the personality of their location. Two of the gardens are open only on Saturday, one is open both days, and two different gardens are open only on Sunday.
GARDEN A & B (Margaret Payne & Martha Kramer) are only open on Saturday
GARDEN C (Catiya Gainor) is open both Saturday & Sunday
GARDEN D & E (Kaj Dawg Farm & Doe Bay Farm) are only open on Sunday
Tickets for the tour cost $20 and are good for both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at Darvill's Bookstore and at Lorna's Driftwood Nursery, online at, or at any of the gardens during the tour.

The money raised from our Garden Tour helps fund all the great programs that bring gardening experts to our monthly meetings throughout the year. Each speaker shares expert knowledge that we can use to raise beautiful flowers and shrubs, healthy veggies and fruit, care for native plants and attract bees, birds, and butterflies to our gardens. Some of the funds are also used to award community grants to help other Orcas organizations preserve the natural beauty of our Orcas environment.

304 Lover's Lane, Eastsound, WA

Margaret's cottage garden offers a delightful blend of different plant habitats, ranging from sunny and dry to wet and shady, allowing her to nurture a wide range of plants through three different seasons. Focusing on perennials, Margaret's garden offers colorful lilies, crocosmia, lupine, roses, columbine, and clematis. Tucked throughout are different garden rooms featuring ornamentals, herbs, native plants, vegetables, a variety of fruit trees and different berry patches. Don't miss the outdoor kitchen, greenhouse and charming garden art featuring vintage tools and a display of different state license plates.
414 John Jones Rd, Eastsound
(Victorian Valley)
Perched on a picturesque hillside, this lovely garden offers expansive views of Victorian Valley. In the garden are a variety of fruit trees including cherry, apple, plum, peach and pear as well as lots of veggies, including lettuce, tomatoes and beans. The hillside garden offers a charming gazebo set amidst an English flower garden featuring many flowering shrubs and perennials that attract birds, bees and butterflies. If you have time, go on a guided walk across the road to visit the Victorian Chapel, the site of many summer island weddings and wander through the adjacent meditation garden. Our thanks to Sara Smith for sharing this lovely space with our tour guests.
328 Pioneer Hill Road, Olga WA (Olga/Doe Bay)

Tucked under Pioneer Hill, the Seaview Farm offers a wide range of interesting features that include an extensive fenced garden, a large greenhouse, a charming sauna and an outdoor kitchen. Inside the fenced garden are a variety of fruit and nut trees, many different kinds of berries, a grape arbor, an herb spiral and numerous beds of all kinds of vegetables including artichokes, broccoli, leeks, lettuce and asparagus. Scattered throughout the garden are flowers and shrubs that attract birds, bees and butterflies. Another interesting feature is the composting method used by the garden owner to create rich soil to nourish the garden.
141 Cadden Lane, ES

Located in Crow Valley, just north of Turtleback Mountain, Kaj Dawg Farm is a gorgeous farm with an inspiring story. Created in 2014 by a group of visionary islanders who provided the infrastructure and expertise, the garden is a model of Community Participatory Agri-culture. Laid out like a quilt in a beautiful setting of field, forest and pond, the farm supports people in growing their own food. This community garden provides participants with abundant organic vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers as they work together throughout the growing season. The outdoor kitchen offers another opportunity to share and learn about food processing and canning.

107 Doe Bay Rd/
Homestead Rd, Olga

The Doe Bay Garden offers over an acre of garden beds and fruit orchards that provide a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers for the Doe Bay Cafe and Resort. Following methods of sustainable, organic gardening, Doe Bay uses seed-saving, crop rotation and composting to ensure the health of the produce and the soil. Tour the large greenhouse and don't miss visiting the chickens, housed in a large enclosure, who will provide delightful entertainment as they consume leftovers with gusto.

To enhance your garden tour experience, we are delighted to include unique activities at each garden throughout the tour. Here's a few of the exciting extras we hope you will enjoy!

  • Self-guided meditation walk through a woodland glen
  • Sift and soil block demonstration
  • WSU Master Gardener information tables
  • Scavenger hunt for garden art & unique plants
  • Live music featuring local music Cool Maritime
  • Floral displays and bouquets for sale by Fabled Flora, Flower Moon Floral and Kelly Maria Francis
  • Art exhibits featuring the work of David Densmore, Suzanne Lamb, Rosemarie Altberg, Heidi Lindberg, Jacqueline Kempfer, Karen Johnston, Robbie Walker, Sara Hennessey, Marj Franke, Linda Kirtz, Anne Jones and Catiya Gainor
  • Compost and soil building demonstration
  • New OIGC tote bags for sale
  • AND . . . a chance to win one of three fabulous raffle baskets that will include local Orcas products, items for bird lovers and the kitchen gardener. With your purchase of a tour ticket, you will receive a raffle ticket. To increase your chances of winning, raffle tickets will be available for purchase at the gardens for $2 per ticket or $5 for five tickets!
We hope to have something fun for everyone! See you there!
As you wander through all the lovely gardens on the tour, please take photos to help us remember the beauty and best moments of this year's garden tour. Select your best photos and let us share them with other garden club members on our website. Send your photos (jpg format) to us: SEND PHOTOS
In accordance with the latest CDC guidelines and San Juan County directives, we have updated our safety guidelines for the Garden Tour.
  • Masks and hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance to each garden

  • Since the Garden Tour is an outdoor venue, wearing a mask is optional inside and outside the garden

  • If you haven't been vaccinated or your immune system is compromised, we recommend that you wear a mask when you are near other people

  • The number of visitors allowed inside each garden at a time will be based on the size and layout of the garden and will be limited to allow sufficient space for everyone to move about safely

  • Since the tour is outdoors, the need for social distancing is dependent upon your vaccination status. If you are vaccinated and know you are interacting with other vaccinated people, you don't need to socially distance
We ask all of our guests to show our generous island spirit
and give other guests some space as you tour the gardens.
With our last tour-focused newsletter of the season, it's a perfect time to highlight and honor our Garden Tour Co-Chair and Honorary Lifetime member, SALLY HODSON. We asked Sally to answer a few questions.

How long have you been involved with the Garden Tour?
About 12 years. I've helped with parking and signs and worked at different gardens as a docent. At the present time, I'm Co-Chair of the Garden Tour along with my terrific partner, Laura Walker.
Describe your responsibilities?
The Orcas Island Garden Tour is a big summer event that attracts many islanders as well as visitors from other islands and the mainland. Planning for the tour is a year-round collaborative project that begins right after the previous tour is finished. First, we generate a list of possible gardens that reflect a diverse sampling of different types of island gardens and then we contact the owners to make arrangements to visit the gardens. Once the owners have agreed to be on the tour, we work with lots of talented volunteers to design the ticket and poster, recruit more volunteers, generate publicity for the tour, create special activities at the gardens, plan parking, set out signs to guide visitors to the gardens, and then we all show up at the gardens and help everyone enjoy the Garden Tour.

What's the best part of your job?
My favorite part of co-chairing the tour is the opportunity to meet and work with so many creative and committed volunteers who make the tour possible. I also really enjoy exploring the back roads of Orcas and discovering so many wonderful gardens tucked away for us to discover. And finally, meeting the garden owners and learning how they created their gardens which they so generously share with all of us.
Past President Marlyn Myers with Sally
Do you have any funny stories or memories from past tours?
I've watched the Garden Tour evolve to be a wonderful community event where people share their knowledge about plants and garden design with each other. Since we all love to learn about plants and try out new techniques in our own gardens, the Garden Tour provides a unique opportunity for gardeners to come together, exchange ideas and learn from each other.

What's different about this season's tour and what do you hope to achieve?
Obviously this is a very different year for all of us as we emerge from the threat and restrictions caused by COVID-19. For many of us, our gardens helped to sustain us while we had to stay at home and were unable to do many of our favorite activities. Since we had to cancel last year's Garden Tour, we wanted this year's event to be a big community celebration as well as a great way to share our love for gardens and plants. Look for lots of fun activities scheduled at each garden throughout the tour weekend.
Sally was her usual modest self in this interview, so we asked others who have worked with Sally to elaborate!
Laura, Sally's Current Tour Co-Chair:
After volunteering for the Garden Club, I was asked if I would like to partner with Sally on the Garden Tour. I jumped at the opportunity but never expected to meet and work with such an amazing person as Sally. I knew very little about the inner workings of the annual tour that she had led for many years. She took me under her wing, and shared everything she knew. She was patient in my learning and energetic about brainstorming ways we could make this year's tour a safe and fun experience. She is just a lovely warm person and it has been my personal delight to work alongside her.
Linda, Sally's Past Co-Chair:
I first met Sally nine years ago when I joined the Orcas Island Garden Club. I was impressed with her dedication and expertise in orchestrating the annual Garden Tour, not only for securing beautiful gardens, but by her gathering and inspiring a hundred volunteers each year. I later learned that in addition to serving on the board and chairing a successful tour in June, she was conducting the Orcas Animal Protection Society Fundraiser the same month. That is dedication!

The traits I value most in Sally are her organization, patience, and wisdom. Her insights into human nature were invaluable to me when I served as her co-chair for the tour and later when I became president.

Sally has rightfully achieved Lifetime Honorary membership in the club in recognition for her countless hours of service. Please join in thanking her and saluting her many gifts and talents as she continues to inspire us with the upcoming tour, NEW BEGINNINGS, NEW BLOSSOMS.
And finally, Jan, a GC Board Member and friend:
Sally and I have been neighbors and friends since about 2011. I mentioned to her on an afternoon walk that I was thinking about joining the Garden Club. She was enthusiastic and encouraged me to join.

Sally is very organized and makes detailed plans for every day and bigger events like the tour. She is always there to help if you need it. Her help included driving me to the Island Hospital ER a few years ago on the last ferry off Orcas. We considered it an adventure since neither one of us ever had gone off island at 10 pm. We ended up spending the night in the hospital lobby waiting for the first morning ferry back home. I was all right -- turned out not to be serious.

I want to thank Sally for all her work on the Garden Tour. It has been super successful in all the years she has been organizing it. And I thank her also for being such a good friend.
In addition to volunteering as Chairperson of the annual Orcas Island Garden Tour, Sally is devoted to the humane care of animals and is also an author. She served on the Orcas Animal Protection Society board for many years and wrote the children's book Granny's Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas, published in 2012. She has generously opened her door and her heart through the years to many lucky dogs and cats needing a loving home.

The Garden Club is so grateful to Sally for her years of service and leadership. We appreciate the invaluable role she's played in making the Garden Tour not just a big success, but a community event. We love you, Sally!
As we wrap up this season's newsletters with this special Garden Tour issue, we wanted to acknowledge the many contributors who have worked hard to bring this newsletter to you each month.
Perri Gibbons (Membership Co-Chair) has contributed to every single issue of the newsletter this year and has become an essential part of the newsletter team. She has brought you book and movie reviews and recommendations, articles on raising garlic and what to do in your garden, photos to make you smile, the monthly raffles, "getting to know you" stories, and so many more ideas that we didn't have room for. She and Laura Walker put together the wonderful 12 Days of Christmas issue with holiday gift ideas. Thank you, Perri, for your brilliant contributions and enthusiasm!
Lene Symes (Programs Chair) has been the sleuth who has found all the webinars featured every month as well as the lists of Upcoming Events for those of you who were looking for educational opportunities. Additionally, starting in January, she organized our online Zoom presentations with speakers like Thor Hanson, Russel Barsh, Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, and Kate Yturri. She has generously donated a number of books for our monthly raffles. Thank you, Lene, for your fantastic way of meeting the challenges of this year!
Helen Huber (Communications Chair) volunteered to add a food column to the newsletter, and what a delight that has turned out to be. She has inspired us to think creatively about cooking through the seasons, sharing her own stories each month to supplement the recipes. If you haven't tried her recipes, you can look back through the newsletters and try making that lovely shortbread, or the coconut red lentil peanut soup, or the kale, apple & cheddar salad. Thank you, Helen, for inspiring us with your love of eating the goodness from our gardens!
Tony Suruda (Treasurer) has provided raffle prizes from sea salt to seed trays to a mason bee house kit, updates about the Asian giant hornet and info about leaf cutter bees and mason bees. Thank you, Tony, for generously sharing your knowledge and expertise with us!
A big thanks to ALL of the Garden Club board members who submitted photos of their favorite garden tools and then their favorite spring flowers. Your participation and support is so much appreciated!
We'd also like to thank and recognize others who have contributed to the newsletter and the Garden Club this year: Sally Hodson, Kate Yturri, Nancy Reas, Paul Huber, Russel Barsh, Chris & Eliza at Island Thyme, Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture, Darvill's Bookstore, and Lorna's Driftwood Nursery. Apologies if we have left YOUR name off this list. We thank everyone who has contributed to and enjoyed this newsletter!!!
And finally, the newsletter editors -- Laura Walker and Nita Couchman.
LAURA WALKER joined the Garden Club board in August of 2020 as Co-Chair of the Garden Tour and then volunteered to be co-editor of our brand new monthly newsletter. That was our lucky day!!!! Laura has kept us informed of Garden Tour updates throughout the year, written articles about what to do in your garden, how to make herbal healing salve, caring for winter birds, selecting spring seeds, and slug info. She has done extensive interviews and articles, one with Kate Yturri about Unsung PNW Pollinators and another with Chris & Eliza of Island Thyme. Together with Perri Gibbons, she put together the fabulous 12 Days of Christmas shopping issue. Most recently she's completed an excellent 2-part series about Master Gardeners. She has helped keep the newsletter team organized and focused and is an invaluable source of fresh ideas and wise perspectives. Thank you, Laura, for coming along at just the right time and sharing your talents and enthusiasm with all of us.
NITA COUCHMAN is an instrumental and foundational leader of the OIGC newsletter. She’s been there from the very start leading and coordinating an effort to produce an engaging, educational and fun vehicle to communicate with our members. Nita is the writer of our favorite, President’s Message, provides us with an inspirational poem and has contributed many interesting and informative articles throughout the year. Since the conception of our first edition in September 2020, you’ve enjoyed her warm, collaborative and positive attitude evident through her style of writing.  In addition to writing, behind the scenes she is busy each month with research, editing, proofreading, article layout and publishing. Committed to continually find ways to bring value to our readers, Nita puts her heart and soul into the newsletter and is truly the glue that holds it all together. Thank you, Nita, for your hard work and leadership. We appreciate you!!! 
And now it's YOUR turn.
Tell us what you think about the newsletter.
How can we make it better?
Your ideas? What would you like to read about?
Nita Couchman
Lene Symes
Perri Gibbons
Karen Hiller
Sally Hodson
Laura Walker 
Jan Jacobson
Tony Suruda
Helen Huber
Linda Armstrong
Email Nita
Email Lene
Email Perri
Email Karen
Email Sally
Email Laura
Email Jan
Email Tony
Email Helen
Email Linda
Orcas Island Garden Club
P. O. Box 452
Eastsound, WA 98245

Newsletter Editors: Nita Couchman & Laura Walker