Garden On, Vashon

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The Haulman Garden at KVI

September 21st, 2013 at Sat, 21st, 2013 at 1:30 pm by Karen Dale

 A porch seen far & wide

A comfy chair amidst flowers: it’s one of life’s most appealing scenes. I know: I’ve painted many such in my pleine air scenes, and they never fail to sell.

So back in 2002 when photographer Mary Liz Austin came to visit her friend Pam Haulman, one look at Pam’s front porch must have made her recognize this scene could be a money-maker.

Pam & Bruce Haulman live above KVI Beach in a cedar-sided cottage, and their deck is LOADED with hot-pink geraniums, plus other potted bloomers. Into all their splendor lean big, chunky adirondacks, declaring with their body language, “Hey YOU! Come here, sit back, come enjoy this why don’t cha?”

Haulman Porch Leadshot

When I visited and took the above photo on this, summer’s last day, her geraniums were still blooming strong with a dose of fertilizer two weeks before. “I feed them with Miracle-Gro twice a year—in June/July, then in early September—and they’ll keep blooming until November.” She normally leaves the pots outdoors all year; these particular plants are survivors of the last two winters. “Like the plants in the photo!”

Mag covers

She brought out Austin’s stunning image, framed and matted, and then fetched a basketful of magazines that had published the photo. Pam’s geraniums have brightened up Easy Beds & Borders, Birds & Blooms, Ideals Country, and on the cover of Backyard Living. “Sunset put it in one of their special inserts. They even called to interview me.” Pretty thrilling for a Chautauqua kindergarden teacher.

When I asked her how long she’d been growing geraniums, Pam said, “Oh, as long as I can remember. I used to plant them for my mother on Mother’s Day. Then in my first home, my stepfather built me wooden planters that I always planted with geraniums. I used to always plant red because that’s what my mother wanted, but later an artist friend of mine said, “Get away from the red. Hot-pink goes with everything.”

It’s natural that most of Pam’s garden is potted up on the porch: the soil here is stiff Vashon Till, with a cliff-edge that Pam daren’t dig into. (“though the soil just across the street is pure sand.”) Deer, now rampant, eat much of what grows around the porch (“though not the dahlias.”)

And it’s fitting that this porch, now roofed to be enjoyed rain or shine, should offer guests these chairs to come and sit awhile, because the view over Tramp Harbor is breathtaking, reaching all the way to Mt. Rainier. And the visitors can be pretty spectacular, too, like the pileated woodpecker that came knockin’ on their old dogwood, his red crest flashing in the sun, while I was there.

The Long View

Sitting in a deck-chair over KVI Beach—a great place to spend summer’s last great afternoon.



gardens on the south end of Vashon Island, on a sandy hilltop overlooking Quartermaster Harbor. "Garden On, Vashon" shares what the Island has to teach us about gardening HERE—from making soils to sowing seeds to raising plants to harvest, cooking, preserving, and designing new ways to cultivate your little chunk of Vashon Island. To contact me, email, or leave a comment.

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