Sharon and Jerry Benson's award-winning Bed & Breadfast on Avon-Allen Road.
What a perfect day for a garden tour! The sun was warm, but not hot. The breeze was soft, but not chilly. It was a perfect day to explore five gardens in the Skagit Valley near LaConner.
Our first stop on Alki Tours was Sharon and Jerry Benson's Bed and Breakfast in Allen. Sharon said Jerry's uncle wanted to bulldoze the 1914 Scandinavian farmstead, but Jerry said, "Let's see what Sharon and I can do with it." They made it into one of the Northwest's Best Places to Stay.
Once a working dairy farm, the gardens are filled with peonies and roses. Antique equipment and outbuildings stand near the sweeping lawn, herb garden, and expansive vegetable garden. Rooms are available in the farmhouse or in the Garden Tower (a former well tower), which has its own kitchen and bathroom. The Tower looks out on a waterfall garden and fishpond. In the surrounding fields, rows of raspberries bloom. Bicyclists smile and wave as they speed by on the Skagit flats. There's music in the air as two of the Benson boys play Mozart on their violins from the wide, curving front porch.
We drove three or four miles to
Garden Tower Suite
A family can stay here and prepare meals with a stove, sink, and refrigerator.
Kathy and Brian Wolfe's contemporary home on Benson Heights Place. A shuttle bus carried us up the steep hill where a strikingly modern house has a commanding view of the Skagit farmlands. Four acres of woodlands stand next to the home where cedar trees tower above the gardens. Kathy, a Master Gardner, has kitchen greens growing in raised beds. From a sweeping terrace, a path winds down to a rockery garden and patio overlooking the open meadows below. Some of our group only wanted to sit on the patio and absorb the view that stretched to Blanchard Mountain. Music was provided by members of the Skagit Symphony, sponsors of the tour.
Our lunch stop was at Padilla Bay Interpretive Center on Bayview Edison Road. Boxed lunches (Bach's Lunches) were provided at the nature reserve where we sat at picnic tables among the nature trails. A lone eagle perched on a branch in a nearby tree and watched us enjoy our delicious sandwiches, with envy, no doubt. We had a breathtaking view of Padilla Bay, the oil refinery, Anacortes, and the San Juan Islands beyond the tideflats.
Next we were off to a magnificent beach house and gardens owned
Sharon and Jerry saved the homestead from being bulldozed to the ground.
by Mary and Floyd Willette on Snee-oosh Road near LaConner. We wound our way through enchanted gardens filled with stone chairs and twig chairs. At the front entrance, a majestic bronze statue of a horse and dog running together greeted us. In a formal garden, we entered a patio with a flowing circular fountain. The indoor swimming pool is decorated with colorful furniture and paintings from Mexico. A whimsical collection of frog dolls looks down on the pool area.
The sunny west side of the house has a flagstone terrace and beach facing Skagit Bay with Deception Pass Bridge in the background. Next to the house is a modern outdoor kitchen perfect for entertaining guests as they choose their favorite view of the water and curved beach lined with driftwood. As we left, we enjoyed meeting Mr. and Mrs. Willette with their friendly Irish Setter dog and expressing our appreciation of their beautiful home with its dramatic views.
Our last stop was The Quarry on Dodge Valley Road near LaConner. An abandoned rock quarry that was filled with old tires and junk cars when I lived in the Valley, the jagged rocks have been transformed into a peaceful
A family of emigrants with eleven children from the Ukraine use this garden to feed several families.
garden softened by fir trees and ponds. Jets of water splash from the interconnecting pools dotted with sculptures, bronzes, and cast iron figures. A string quartet from Skagit Symphony filled the air with music.
The Quarry was bought by the internationally acclaimed sculptor Joseph Kinnebrew in 1995. Over the past fifteen years, he has built an indoor and outdoor gallery and house as a spectacular background for his artistic creations. It is a suitable place for weddings, seminars, and conferences. Today, The Quarry is for sale at $2,365,000.
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