Garden On, Vashon

Gardening, cooking, building, designing, dreaming…

  • Comments

Working with What’s Good

June 2nd, 2014 at Mon, 2nd, 2014 at 4:11 pm by Karen Dale

Title panel back yard

From Tramp Harbor all the way up the Shipping Channel, the view is long and breathtaking from Judi Burwell’s deck. From her entrance, the view was once not so great: it overlooked the neighborhood road and, occasionally, whatever the neighbors dumped into the forest across the street. But today, Judi has a landscape that does what it needs to: frame the view in one case, obscure it in another.

Judi moved here in 2006, remodeled the house to (among other things) get an even better view over Tramp Harbor, and then hired Terry Hershey to redesign the garden. Judi didn’t want the front lawn, but she did want to keep the mature rhododendrons, enormous Japanese maple, and large ornamental cherry growing near the road. So Terry and crew removed the grass, brought in “tons of that sand-compost mix,” and created two garden areas: one a shade garden surrounding the Japanese maple, the other an entrance garden of potted plants and shrubs that hide the ground floor and visually push you up the front steps toward the new entrance upstairs.

Judi on her Front Drive

Now, Judi’s view off her front porch is of volumes in color contrast. Violas and pansies, grasses blue, bronze, and black, red clover and hardy geranium weave among the purple and evergreen shrubs that embrace the house. Like stars amid green clouds, callas, peonies, and Asiatic lilies accent the garden, while the maple rises above them all, a tremendous thundercloud of green.

Judi Front Garden

Far underneath, the elk statue she brought from Colorado keeps an eye on dogwood, whose blooms can be easily missed amidst all this greenery. No longer can the street be seen (except via the driveway), nor heard much, thanks to the burbling of the faux “river” that Hershey installed.

Elk Dogwood

The view on the other side of the house takes your breath away—not only for its beauty, but for the danger to a little granddaughter wandering near that 80′ drop. So Judi asked for a wall in front of that edge: something that could be planted, something just tall enough to discourage little girls.

Backyard Flowers

Here Judi has her roses, irises, and lavender, along with shrubs that “I know I need to trim back.” (Like many a gardener I’ve visited, Judi spent much of my visit doubled-over to weed and prune.)

An open, expansive view or an intimate, embracing garden: Judi Burwell has both.



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.

More articles by  >
ABOUT COMMUNITY BLOGS: Community blogs are written by volunteers. They are members of our community but not employees of this site or newspaper. They have applied or were invited to blog here but their words are their own and are not edited by the editor or staff of this site, and have agreed to abide by our Terms of Use. The authors are solely responsible for their content. If you have concerns about something you read on a community blog, please contact the author directly or email us.

COMMENTING RULES: We encourage an open exchange of ideas in the community, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. In a nutshell, don't say anything you wouldn't want your mother to read.

So keep your comments:

  • Civil
  • Smart
  • On-topic
  • Free of profanity

We ask that all participants own their words by logging in with their Facebook account. It's a simple process that will take seconds and helps keep our comments free of trolls, cranks, and “drive-by” commenters. We reserve the right to remove comments from anyone using screen names, pseudonyms or false identities. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.