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Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

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Made on Vashon: Three Islanders ply their craft

What makes a home or garden beautiful? Hand-crafted items, made here on Vashon

Stories by Leslie Brown

Photos by Sy Bean (middle) and Leslie Brown

Brad Davis, woodworker: He uses wood most builders would discard as waste

Karen Bean, slip cover queen: She’s turned her love of sewing into a business

David Erue, garden art from scrap metal: He finds inspiration in old farm equipment

Brad Davis was a young man when he hauled a couple thousand board feet of black walnut from his home in Connecticut to his new home on the West Coast — though he wasn’t sure what for. He simply loved the hardwood’s richness and color and couldn’t bear to part with it. Now 30 years later, the wood — some of it beginning to rot — has been at the heart of a new line of work for the longtime cabinetmaker and remodeler. Over the past three years, Davis has used that black walnut — as well as cherry and maple — to build coffee tables, end tables and sideboards rich in character. Indeed, he said, he likes the fact that some of his wood is “punky,” as he puts it — wood that has divits left behind by wood-boring insects or even holes caused by decay. Most fine craftsmen would throw away such wood, of course. To Davis, there’s a beauty to be found there — a kind of abstract landscape one can discern in the patterns, textures and colors. “Most people want uniformity,” he said. “I like just the opposite.” Davis, 60, has been working with wood since he was

Twelve years ago, Karen Bean decided it was time to do something about her hand-me-down furniture — lovely, old pieces, she said, that were completely mismatched. Her grandmother had taught her to sew when she was a kid. So she pulled out her old Singer, bought several yards of a simple cotton fabric and made her first slipcover. A friend was struck by the quality and asked if Bean would make one for her. She did. And within a few months, her business — one she hadn’t exactly planned — began to take off. Her friend was a hairdresser who visited a lot of homes, Bean said. She’d walk into a friend’s house, Bean recalled, and “she’d say, ‘I know the perfect person who could make you a slipcover.’” It was serendipity — or perhaps a bit of divine intervention. Bean was raising three children and wanted to be home but also needed to bring some extra money into the household. She was also riding a wave: Pottery Barn and its ilk were becoming increasingly popular, and slip

David Erue recalls the day Sharon Munger — owner of Barnworks and a UPS truck driver — pulled into his driveway, looked around at his collection of birds fabricated out of old shovels and bicycle parts and said, “How would you like to be in the art show.” Erue, a tall, plain-spoken man, replied, “What art show?” A few months later, he was one of the featured artists at Barnworks during the spring art studio tour, displaying his work — whimsical creatures made out of scrap iron and discarded tools — and talking to customers. “Oh wow!” he recalls thinking. “I’m an artist.” There’s no question of that now, 15 years later. Erue, who worked for years as a chef at Salty’s in West Seattle, has made a name for himself on Vashon and beyond with his menagerie of fabricated creatures, his ornate garden gates, his sturdy trellises and his many other forms of garden art. Last year, he won first place in the people’s choice category at the Proctor Art Fest in Tacoma; he’s been a featured artist at Vashon Allied Arts’ annual auction, and his art — from modest chickens to life-sized horses — adorns

See DAVIS, 22

See BEAn, 22

See ERUE, 22

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VAA’s 22nd annual Garden Tour June 23-24

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

The Carharts’ garden: A landscape that offers color year-round By JANICE RANDALL For The Beachcomber


hen Whit and Mary Carhart decided to uproot from their long-time Yakima area home in the late 1980s, they were seeking a place to connect with nature. They envisioned a waterfront cabin with a patch of land so that Whit would have a place to further develop his passion for gardening.

Mary and Whit Carhart, in their Asian-influenced garden on Maury Island.

Traveling with friends who owned a Vashon summer home, the Carharts decided to check out Vashon where they discovered a wooded parcel on Quartermaster Harbor. They promptly fell in love with the site and its sweeping Dockton view. Until Whit retired as a radiologist, the Carharts made the trek over the mountains weekends and summers for several years before selling everything, including their apple orchards, to make the full-time commitment to Island life. The Carharts remodeled the house extensively and began their gardening adventures in 2000. Meanwhile, Whit read everything he could about gardening, took

horticulture classes and attended workshops. He attributes his primary plant education to Seattle’s Elizabeth Miller Botanical Garden, where he volunteered. Of their 20 hillside acres, 16 are now held in a state-approved forest stewardship plan and about three acres are dedicated to landscaped gardens. While June and July are in high bloom, the Carhart garden offers color and features to enjoy year-round. “We wanted our gardens in a Northwest style, which has now evolved to be a mixture of evergreens, Japanese maples, unusual woodland plants and ferns, species Rhododendrons and different types of ground covers, such as cyclamens, hepaticas, trilliums,” Whit said. “We like color, eye stimulation.” Where blackberries once proliferated, exotic ground covers such as Pachyphragma (a flowering semi-evergreen perennial) now flourish. Sun-dappled shade gardens showcase early spring ephemerals, such as snowdrops and crocuses alongside ferns and witch hazel. Three species of Stewartia, brilliant Oxydendron, Jacquemontii birches, climbing hydrangeas and other ornamentals complement conifers where alders once stood.


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

One sunny area is devoted primarily to flowering perennials, while another slope supports drought-tolerant plants, including Manzanita, lavenders, ornamental grasses and sedums. Sculptures by Julie Speidel and Dominic Benhura accent the garden In 2008, they installed a pond and waterfall designed by Terry Welch, a Seattle landscaper. The pond provides a summertime place for the grandchildren to frolic and a year-round attraction for bird life. Further garden development, decidedly Asian-influenced, evolved around the Japanese heart-shaped pond complete with strolling paths (steps and buttresses made from fallen madrones) and ample seating areas. An island in the pond features ornamental grasses and graceful cypress. Rugosa roses reside on one side, Calla lilies and Edwardian ferns rise from bog areas, and hundreds of irises

This year’s event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24. The event will include tours of five Island gardens, gardening seminars, live music, garden art and a “garden market,” featuring many Island-made goods, located on the K2 building’s front law. The tour is sponsored by PSE, Thriftway, JR Crawford, John L. Scott and Island Home Center & Lumber.

Calycanthus, a shrub that blooms from June to August, adorns the Carharts’ garden. mimic reeds around the pond. A Weeping Alaskan Blue Cedar draws the eye, and many unusual plants from specialty nurseries have been incorporated into the garden design. An antique Indonesian garden shed offers an Asian touch. Many talented artists have contributed to the structure, color and design of the gardens, Whit said, including Michelle Berlin, Al Bradley, Jim Chabot, Clare Dohna, John Moore, Gunter Reimnitz, Gary Sipple, David Smith, Lorrie Snyder, Donna and Jeff Tousley and Steve Zartman. Mary, for her part, has overseen the hardscaping, which Whit says is her specialty. She also enjoys photographing the garden in all its seasons. “While summer blooms are beautiful, we have amazing fall color,” she says. Whit admits that while the gardens may look perfect to visitors, it’s important for aspiring gardeners to be willing to take risks to learn. “All gardeners make mistakes,” he said. Added Mary, “We just love it. This is what keeps us young.” — Janice Randall is the communications director at Vashon Allied Arts.

Open Daily 10-5pm


The gardens are always at the heart of the two-day event, and tour chairs Chanda Carlson and Karen Person say this year’s tour will be as inspiring as ever. Some, Carlson said, will make attendees say “wow.” Others will inspire gardeners to try their own hand at some new approaches. “What we looked for is a broad range,” she said. In addition to the Carharts’ garden, here’s what’s in store: Mary Margaret and Todd Pearson’s garden: The Pearsons’ garden, just south of Paradise Valley, includes an open meadow that in June should be awash in purple lupine and boxwoods surrounding bluestone patios framing rhodies, hydrangeas and lilacs. “It’s low-maintenance but lovely,” Carlson said. Sylvia Soholt’s garden: She calls her garden, tucked off of Cemetery Road, a healing sanctuary. Beautifully forested, the landscape includes meandering paths with places to sit and meditate, as well as charming flower gardens and lovely garden art, Carlson said. Barry Foster and Bruce Fillinger’s garden: Carlson calls the Foster/Fillinger garden “whimsical.” Among the features: A wrought-iron bed with flowers poking out of it (in other words, “a flower bed”); a chicken coop-turned-chicken museum; lots of chickens and several exotic, brightly colored birds. David Pfieffer and Daniel Klein: The couple’s garden has gotten a lot of attention over the years; Pfieffer is a professional landscaper. They designed their Reddings Beach-area home to blend in with their garden, creating

More details

The Sunset Garden Gala will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, June 22. Guests will enjoy fine dining in a private waterfront garden, complete with cocktails and live entertainment. Tickets are $125 per person. Tour tickets include expanded daily seminars. Learn how to select and install stonework with Islander Jan Nielsen, project manager for Marenakos Stone. Melissa Schafer, owner of Schafer Specialty Landscape & Design, will share secrets to fantastic container creations. Discover the unique process of distilling essential oils with the Lavender Sisters, handcrafters of organic lavender products from Island-grown lavender. Tour tickets, valid both days, are $25 per person or $20 if purchased by May 31. This year’s pre-tour event, Art in Bloom, with author Dan Hinkley, will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 10, at the Blue Heron. He will talk about building beautiful Northwest gardens using low-maintenance plants that work in a marine climate. Tickets are $30 per person, or, with a tour ticket, $45 per person. Booksigning, wine and appetizers included. More than a dozen Island artists have embellish garden ewers — or large jugs — for auction. Before the tour, they may be seen at the Heron’s Nest and around town in other storefronts. (Kristen Reitz-Green ewer pictured above.) In honor of the tour, the Blue Heron Gallery will showcase garden-related art during June, with works by Island artist Charlotte Masi, who creates botanical-themed gourds, and light-filled floral oil paintings by Woodinville artist Janci Mannington.

Planting the seed for you to eat.

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Page 16

The buzz about beekeeping Beekeepers worry about the fate of this useful little insect By KAREN DALE For The Beachcomber

As the air warms to 50 degrees and spring blooms, honeybees will pour from Island hives to feed — and in feeding, pollinate — our native plants and hobby fruits. Or will they? During these last too-cool years, the 30 or so beekeepers on the Island have lost hives. They blame damp hives, starvation, pesticides, diseases, mites. Or is it Colony Collapse Disorder, which has killed half the commercial hives in the United States?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

One lands on my sleeve, her legs loaded with saddlebags of yellow pollen that will feed nurse bees, which in turn feed the pupae and the queen. Sullivan looks into a hive of Carniolans, a darker honeybee that originated in Slovenia. It looks reduced to several hundred bees — typical of a late winter hive. By July, this hive will grow to more than 60,000 bees, who will make nearly 100 pounds of honey from more than 25 million flower visits each day.

Colony Collapse Disorder

We rely on the honeybee more than we realize. One out of every three bites of food we eat comes from food pollinated by insects. “Honeybees are the most delightful, hardest-working, most useful pet that you can have,” said Cheryl Grunbock, an Island beekeeper who has sold honey at the Vashon Farmers Market. That useful insect “Without bees, we’d do without honey — and more On a mild March day, I don a bee-veil and join Islander importantly, without fruit set,” she told me. “All our hobby Elizabeth Sullivan to inspect her hives in her garden in fruits — apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, apricots Paradise Valley. She pops a top, smokes the hive and lifts a and all the berries — have to be pollinated by bees.” frame full of what she calls “Italian bees” — or Apis mellifIn recent years, though, beekeepers have grown alarmed era — that useful European honeybee that’s been domesti- over the fate of the honeybee. Most U.S. commercial hives cated since ancient times. are trucked to Florida or California to work crops, but in “I left them most of their honey last fall so they’d go October 2006, they were returning sick, turning up dead into winter happy, healthy and with enough food to last or simply missing in action. Overwork, travel, stress and through spring,” she says.  pesticides are all blamed. Several countries have banned neoA few bees head-butt my veil. I’m not worried: Unlike nicotinoids, a widely used class of insecticides that has been wasps, honeybees sting only as a last resort. These bees get implicated in mass bee deaths.  their bearings, then zip away toward pollen-rich catkins Beekeepers have noticed that pesticides and weedkillof hazel, maple and alder. Once loaded up, they’ll bee-line ers fly off local store shelves. Spraying when it’s over 50 back and dance out directions to the motherlode for other degrees and flowers are blooming may be comfortable for forager bees.  humans but death to bees. According to Grunbock, “Bees are the most susceptible. You’ll kill them before anything else.” But longtime Vashon beekeeper Steve Rubicz believes the initial hit to American beekeeping was the varroa mite, which feeds of the bodily fluids of honey bees and may carry viruses that damage insects. According to his research, 25 percent of the commercial hives and all the feral populations in the U.S. were lost to varroa between 1990 to 2004. He lost 24 hives to varroa in the early 90s. Varroa destructor, as it’s called, sucks like a vampire on bees and preys on Photo courtesy of Amy Greenberg larvae in their cells. “Mites are Island beekeeper Amy Greenberg inspects her honeybees last spring. in all the hives on the Island,”

Margot Boyer Photo

Carniolan honey-bee on flowering thyme. Rubicz said. Elizabeth Vogt, who helped start the local bee club, says nosema, a gut disease, also hits bees hard. “And Island bees take the biggest hit during the winter,” she said.

A Northern Resistance

To combat all these problems, Island beekeepers are adopting strains of honeybees — Russians, Carnies, English Buckfast, Minnesota Hygienics — that have shown mite-resistant behaviors, such as grooming or cellpurging. They fare better in cool climates, too. Sullivan smokes the last hive and pries off a frame of her Minnesota Hygienics, telling me that “these bees search and destroy mites and mite-infested pupae. They unplug the cells, pull out the mite and drop it; the mite falls through the hive’s bottom screen and can’t get back in.” She pulls from the hive a brown paper strip, a natural miticide — or mite-killer — made from hops. “Smells fermented, doesn’t it?” she asks. These Minnesota bees seem, well, irritable, so we call it a day. But Sullivan seems pleased at what appears to be a healthy start to the season for these Island honeybees. “So far, so good this year,” she says. For more on local beekeeping, see Karen Dale’s blog on The Beachcomber’s website, “Garden On, Vashon.”

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

From the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club

A celebration of beauty: Four fantastic gardens

By JR CRAWFORD and CAROL OLSON For The Beachcomber


very November the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club holds its banquet honoring the four winners of its Community Garden Awards. The selection process doesn’t involve “criteria” as such, but there are a few rules. Winners may not be members of the garden club and must be do-it-yourself gardeners. After that, it’s wide open.

Wayne Barclay Photo

This potting shed, built by James and Kathy Webster, sprouted just off Vashon Highway.

Interested in the Garden Club? This group of almost 100 members meets the second Monday of every month from 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lutheran Church on Vashon Highway. Most meetings include a speaker. Members and guests bring a sack lunch.

Each club member may nominate one garden from the community. When nominations have closed, the owners of the nominated gardens are contacted to see if they want to participate and, if so, they’re visited by the awards selection committee. The awards selection committee decides who the actual four winners are; most of the club membership finds out the results on the night of the banquet. How does the awards selection committee determine the final winners? It is clear a winner needn’t have a million-dollar, sophisticated or even fancy garden to win. What seems most important to the club is the gardener’s deep love of gardening — somehow expressed in the garden he or she created.



206.619.1453 |

James and Kathy Webster James and Kathy Webster’s garden won the hearts of the garden club. All gardeners should take inspiration, for theirs is the quintessential example of a garden created from scratch, beginning as it did as an open plot of land next to Vashon Highway. Those heading to the north-end ferry a year or so ago may have noticed the innocuous beginnings of their endeavor — some windows lying about on their grassy swath of property, perched above the water on the east side of the road. Over time, the project grew. Soon, there were some boards, a frame and a roof, and a little potting shed began to take shape. The shed soon sprouted curtains. Stacks of lumber and piles of loamy soil and compost became raised beds. A fruit tree appeared near the raised beds, and yes, within days, one could see that deer had browsed its tender branches. Suddenly a tall fence sprang up. By the end of the season, the Websters’ garden was filled with a bounty of vegetables and flowers. Keen observers might have noticed other lovely details: Every raised bed, for instance, had a flower in one corner, specifically positioned so that people could see it from the road. The paths between the beds were covered in cedar chips, and eventually a proper gate appeared on the fence. In effect, the Websters treated the entire Island to a serialized “Adventures in Gardening.”

The Websters have had other gardens on Vashon. But they were especially excited to have such a sunny exposure. No wonder they named their garden “Sunny View.”

Miriam and Chris Cressman Miriam and Chris Cressman live in a remote part of the Island off Wax Orchard Road, far from the city life they once led. This is where they’ve carved out a remarkable garden, full of both whimsy and beauty. Close to the house, near their impeccably manicured garden, they keep honey bees. Two helpful little dogs and a friendly horse that pulls a cart — he actually helps them in their gardening with his cartpulling — share this large plot of land. Bird houses abound, topping many fence posts. Just beyond a metal archway, there’s an old stove awash with flowers, an old water pump and a collection of gardening tools arranged for display. Around the old pump a few bees circle and land. Beyond the pump, an inspired feature catches one’s eye — a beautiful succulent garden made of raised beds and patterned as a quilt. No element is left out of this diverse garden, with trees trained along the fence, fruit trees, berries and good-looking vegetables. Miriam and Chris started the garden prior to their move to the Island — in fact, the garden came before the house. Now, what started as their oasis has become their passion and their home.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

Wayne Barclay Photo

Lilies bloom in the Cressmans’ garden during a visit by the garden club.

Heidi and Kim Richards Kim Richards, a retired teacher, and Heidi Richards, a semi-retired teacher with a passion for pottery and a history on Vashon that stretches back to her time with grandmother Betty McDonald, have designed a beautiful home in Gold Beach and surrounded it with a lush, romantic garden, perfect for their site and lifestyle. The subtle palette of their plants plays a gentle counterpoint to the winding hardscapes leading to the house and beyond. Dahlias, crocosmia and fragrant lilies grow in abundance, taking advantage of Maury Island’s Mediterranean-type climate and soils. Perennials of all kinds, colored grasses and perfect bronzed flax dot the landscape next to an artful dry stream bed

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Wayne Barclay Photo

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Al Watts grows amazing vegetables.

waiting for a spring rain. A path beckons to a table and chairs, where one can take in views of Mount Rainier or watch birds in the birdbath. Behind their house, the Richards have created a private retreat. With the hillside as a backdrop, they’ve developed an outdoor living space, including a gazebo and patio, a barbecue and a small lawn that their grandchildren can enjoy. There are berries and apples to pick, and flowers, of course, are everywhere.

Al and Muriel Watts Al and Muriel Watts, owners of Appleyard Farm, received a garden club award in recognition of their wonderfully diverse and well-established farm in

Garden Tour 22nd Annual Vashon Island

Saturday & Sunday June 23-24



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Heidi Richards, pointing, leads a tour of her Gold Beach garden.

Dockton. Al is a retired dentist who practiced in West Seattle for many years, coming to his land in Dockton on weekends and gradually increasing the amount of land he owned as well as the specialization and diversity of his plants.  Al, a licensed commercial grower, is an expert in growing the many varieties of rhododendrons, maples and geraniums that surround his well-maintained old home in the heart of Dockton. Fruits and vegetables flourish as well. Neighbors eagerly await his corn crop each year (as do the raccoons) — Al grows some of the tallest corn in the county, occasionally winning first place for his towering stocks at the Puyallup Fair. He also produces outrageously huge pumpkins. He says one of the secrets to his bounty is the

many species of chickens that he raises — or, more to the point, their byproducts. Al shows his award-winning poultry locally and at expositions around the United States, chauffeuring them in his pickup to events as far away as Michigan and Indiana. In the winter, you can find him in his greenhouse, propagating new plants and giving vegetable seeds an early start. Muriel’s interests, meanwhile, lean toward fiber arts, but her support and involvement in the farm are evident, too.  — JR Crawford is the president of the garden club, and Carol Olson is the program director. The garden club’s annual plant sale is Saturday, May 5, at the old Napa Store near Vashon Market. Doors open at 9 a.m.

Gardening in our Community

Helping Gardeners Create and Maintain Gardens on Vashon Since 2005

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Garden greens bring color and flavor Make meals interesting with greens from your own backyard By KAREN DALE For The Beachcomber


salad of just lettuce is, let’s face it, BOR-ING! A good salad needs bling. Leaves that lend color. Toothsome textures. Tastes that snap the taste buds to attention. We’re talking greens — European, Asian, even weeds, that are best experienced from your own garden.


Nutty to grassy to peppery, these greens add a lot of zip and color to your salad. They’re mostly quick to grow and better if taken in baby leaf form. Cress puts the pepper snap in my salads, whether it’s Wrinkly Crinkly, Peppercress, Upland, the moisture-loving Watercress

or even that garden pest Shot-weed. They don’t need much space: I grow mine in deep flats or pots, well-watered. Arugula has bolted on many gardeners, but there’s a half-height wild form, Arugula Sylvetta, that brings the same walnut flavor in a smaller, slower-growing leaf. And Popeye, take note: It’s got more Vitamin A and C than spinach. Corn salad (aka mache) makes a tiny dog’s ear of a leaf that’s mild and quick to grow. Another little leaf, purslane, has a wild grassy flavor, but it can become weedy.  The sharp, tonic flavor of radicchio reminds me of sourdough. As they mature, radicchios bring on the red, either in redflecked leaves of the variety Castelfranco or as ruby-red heads of Treviso or Chioggia. Radicchio likes the cooler  seasons and is perhaps best over-wintered, but protected from rain.

Asian Greens

If you adore hot mustard with your Chinese barbecue pork, you’ll love the taste of Asian mustards. If you pick them

We have lots of new fresh plants arriving daily! • Bedding Plants • Trees & Shrubs • Vines & Roses • Edibles Galore! Berries, Veggies, Potatoes, Onions, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Herbs and so much More!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

by their names — Red Giant, Ruby Frills, Osaka Purple— you’ll get that color or shape in your salad. But harvest them as 21-day baby leaves, or they’ll get big as boat paddles, better cut up for stir-fries with big-flavored meats or seasoned tofus. Choy takes longer, about 50-plus days, to develop the crunchy rib it’s known for. Tatsoi stays small and spoon-shaped. Tokyo bekana looks like a narrow napa with white ribs and bright green leaves; after they are harvested, the mild microleaves will become slightly bitter braising greens for stir-fries or risotto. Garlic chives, also known as Chinese chives, have flat rather than round leaves and white chive blossoms. They come easily from seed and provide that mild garlic taste that so enhances other flavors.

Weed Greens

Shot-weed isn’t the only garden weed that’s good in a salad. Chickweed, with its little pointed leaves and white star flowers, is edible. So are young dandelion leaves — and no green has more Vitamin A.

Miner’s lettuce, or claytonia, hasn’t much taste, but there’s a juicy, delicate crunch in its heart-shaped leaves. To dress these salads, don’t overwhelm them with heavy sauce. Instead, use a light coating of oil and vinegar in ratios of 3:1 or 4:1 with wine- or rice-vinegar. For a taste bump, add a few drops of balsamic vinegar, sesame oil or herbs — and salt and pepper, of course. If you want to try growing greens, Renee’s Garden Seeds offers several “mesclun mix” variety packs. And the Vashon Garden Club will offer transplant packs of mixed greens during their Mother’s Day sale.

— Karen Dale writes a blog, “Garden On, Vashon,” featured on The Beachcomber’s website. Visit it at blogs.vashon

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

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Home life: When clutter takes over, one woman might have the answer By ELIZABETH SHEPHERD Staff Writer

Has Tupperware taken over your kitchen? Has the surface of your dining room table disappeared beneath a permanent pile of debris? Are clothes exploding out of your closets? Has your garage become a maze of boxes? If you answered yes to any of these questions, there’s someone on Vashon who wants to help. For the past three years, Bonnie McCallister has answered to the name of Clutter Queen — a moniker that is actually the name of her business (and which she recently changed to dClutter Queen). Consulting one-on-one with clients, she offers a fusion of good advice and heavy lifting, with a generous dose of empathy on the side, to help people reclaim their houses — and their lives — from clutter. McCallister, a 56-year-old woman with a soft voice and a big smile, said she’s happy to help people tackle tasks that might seem too daunting and depressing to accomplish alone. “We let things go and we think it’s going to take as long to change as it did to get to that point, and yet people are amazed at how much we can get done in a short day,” McCallister said. McCallister, who has lived on Vashon for 26 years, said she was drawn to her current line of work after years of managing her own collections and helping her friends and relatives decorate their houses. With her husband, she also runs Villa Vashon, a waterfront event space adjacent to her home, and she also helps homeowners and real estate agents style houses to look more appealing in a tough market. But she said she also knows first-hand how possessions can pile up and become unmanageable. “I inherited two grandmothers’ and one mother’s worth of kitchen stuff in 10 years and it was all precious,” she said. “But I had three sets of dishes myself at that point, so it was not appropriate.” Many of McCallister’s clients, she said, are older women


More Than Just Stuff: How to who have spent many years in the Downsize Your Belongings and same house, accumulating not only Manager a Later Life Move,” possessions but also memories that said she could have never manmake de-cluttering more difficult. aged her own move without She has also been called to help stayMcCallister’s help. at-home mothers whose houses have “I wrote this book that sells swallowed by a jumble of kids’ toys. everywhere, but I couldn’t do it Whatever the situation, emotions for myself,” Abrams said. “It’s always play a part in the clutter anxiety-producing to give away problem. things that you’ve had forever. “Whether it’s one room or the You need a coach, somebody whole house, it can be overwhelmwho can just be there to encouring for the client,” McCallister said. age you and remind you about To make the process more manwhat is really most important ageable, and to build rapport, to you.” McCallister brings lunch to her cliAnother client, Janet Lofland, ents and gently guides them through said that McCallister has helped a process of deciding what to keep her on several organizational and what to throw away, give to projects in her home. someone else or donate to charity. “She’s very efficient and con“The stuff that they want to get siderate and streamlined about rid of goes out of the house immediit,” Lofland said. “She doesn’t ately,” she said. For McCallister’s clients, having a Bonnie McCallister likes to help people tackle stop moving, and yet, it’s a calming thing.” newly neat and tidy home can be a tasks they might find daunting on their own. McCallister said she’s eager life-changing experience. to help more Islanders find the Arlene Abrams consulted with joy in their homes that years worth of clutter has covered McCallister during the process of readying her large up. Vashon home for sale, and then moving into a Seattle “When I check back in with people (after we are done), apartment. they’re on cloud nine,” she said. “It’s a gift they give them“The thing that I love most about Bonnie is that she is selves to live in their home and enjoy their home.” very gentle by nature, but she is like a locomotive when it comes to getting things done,” Abrams said. “She’s an exceptional worker with great solid energy.” Abrams, the author of a 2004 book called “When it’s

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Free the trees! Learn how to remove invasive English ivy Saturday, March 24 10-11:30 a.m. Winghaven Park

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• Watch pros demonstrate ivy removal • Learn from King County noxious weed experts Sasha Shaw and Maria Winkler and KUOW gardening panelist Greg Rabourn • Enter to win 3 hours of ivy removal by a professional crew Get a free on your property native plant • Borrow tools for your garden! Questions?

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2012 • vashon-maury island home

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Page 22

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber







a boy. A sturdy pine table sits in his office; he built it when he was in high school. As a young man, he said, he had little interest in college. A child of the 60s, he wanted to live as self-sufficiently as possible. So some 36 years ago, he launched his career as a builder and, for the most part, it seems, hasn’t looked back. Today, Davis lives in a handcrafted home on the west side of the Island with his wife, Meg White, their children and a dog. His studio — a cavernous space with walls the color of pumpkin — is a stone’s throw from the house. For the most part, Davis is a custom builder and remodeler, his specialty unique cabinetry. His home is a kind of showcase for his work. A floor-to-ceiling cabinet in one corner of the house is finely crafted, with doors made from maple riddled with trails carved by insects. But Davis has also branched out along the way. He’s made more than 1,000 congas and other kinds of drums — a natural outgrowth of his years traveling with Robert Bly and Michael Meade, who led drumming circles as part of their work in the men’s movement. Davis also restores classic “woodies,” cars and trucks with wood doors and panels. Furniture-making, meanwhile, has become his latest passion. And while these are sturdy, functional tables, Davis also considers them a kind of art. “What drives me is to make things that draw people in,” he said. “I try to make abstract landscapes in the wood grain.” Some of his tables have what are called breadboard ends, a rim around the table attached by tongue and groove joinery. Others are built out of wood that still has its cambium layer — the outer layer of a tree that most builders strip off. The results are pieces of furniture that are, at once, both rustic and sophisticated. His work is expensive. One table can take 15 hours to build and cost more than $1,000. Davis knows they’re not for everybody; at the same time, he said, he loves building them and “getting lost in the wood.” “I’ve never really had the free time to be creative,” he said. Making tables, he added, “is a real treat and a luxury.”

covers were de rigueur among the fashionable set. She converted the outbuilding behind the gracious turn-of-the-century home on Soper Road that she shares with her husband Tom into a workshop and began to sew. A dozen years later — her children now grown and gone — Bean continues to ply her trade, spending several hours a day in her studio transforming cat-scratched couches, stained over-stuffed chairs and out-of-fashion ottomans into things of beauty. “I like what I do,” she said, sitting in her low-ceilinged workshop, scraps of fabric scattered across the floor. “I see amazing homes. It’s just been really, really fun.” But it’s also hard work, and Bean, 55, a warm and easygoing woman, has sometimes fancied another career for herself. Indeed, when the economy turned a few years ago and fewer people had the funds to make-over their living room, Bean went back to school to become an accountant. It seemed the right time to make a transition, she said. “I thought I had slip-covered the entire Island,” Bean said, laughing. She finished her business degree with an emphasis in accounting in December, she said. “The minute I did so,” she said, “my phone started ringing again.” Bean now has a backlog of orders, and she guesses that “there are still kitties that are still scratching.” So she’ll continue to sew, using her business degree to see if she can ramp up her cottage industry a bit, market on the mainland and enhance her own inventory of fabrics. “It’d be nice to reach a broader audience,” she said. And every now and then, she gets a note from a client that reminds her of the deeper value of her work — like a recent one from a man whose window-seat cushion she recovered. He told her that this is where he strums his guitar and sips his coffee each morning — a spot in his house that’s become a bit of a sanctuary. “That made my day,” she said, smiling.

the Island. The 12-foot giraffe in front of Giraffe — a retail store in town — was made by Erue. Erue lives on Cove Road with his partner Bobbi Arnold in a blue cottage with yellow painted doors. The home is surrounded by lush, beautifully tended gardens — Arnold’s handiwork — and everywhere is Erue’s work. A life-sized metal horse — with wire for a mane and a clear-coated steel saddle — stands at the edge of the driveway. A gate with water faucet handles that look like longstemmed flowers leads into the vegetable garden. A sheep — its body made of bedsprings, its head made of flattened steel and eyelashes made of a fan from a small motor — stands in one of the garden rows. A heron crafted from bent metal and old pruning shears (the shears suggest the two long feathers that protrude from the back of a heron’s head) stands in a small pond. Flowers made of old tractor parts sprout everywhere. Erue came upon his craft when he was 53 and recovering from hip surgery. “I couldn’t do much,” he recalled. So he asked his brother, a welder, to teach him to weld. He found he had a knack for it and continued to weld off and on over the years while maintaining a variety of day jobs. Now 70 and officially retired from the work-aday world, Erue welds about five hours a day in his studio — the garage next to the house. Completely self taught, Erue spends a fair amount of time collecting the materials that make up his creations. He has a passion for old farm tools, engine parts and rusted rebar. When he gets a piece of farm equipment, with its lovely shapes and curves, he said, he sometimes doesn’t know what it will become. “I just wait for it to talk to me.” Some of Erue’s art is expensive; the horse in his driveway carries a price tag of $4,500. But he makes plenty of small garden creatures that are affordable and will custom-build a garden gate for $300 and up. He’s not exactly looking for work, though, he said. “I don’t want to be too busy,” he said, smiling from under his Harley Davidson ball cap. “I want it to be fun.”

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

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Page 24

Sylvia’s top 10 picks for a Vashon garden

Sylvia Matlock, owner of Dig Floral & Garden, recently gave a talk at the VashonMaury Island Garden Club, where she listed her 10 must-have plants. It turns out, not surprisingly, that these are plants that grow well on her shady parcel in the Reddings Beach area. Most, she added, are deer-proof, have something going on nearly year-round and are both drought- and shade-tolerant. Corokia Cotoneaster. A wiry shrub, also called the skeleton plant, with silvery leaves and stems that look like a linear charcoal drawing. Its bright yellow daisy flowers and variegated leaves light up a garden. Very hardy plant, 5 feet by 5 feet.

Azara Microphylla. Small tree 15 feet high, 6 feet wide. Vanilla scented flowers. Needs little watering.

Lilium cernum. This 2-foot high lily has “turk’s cap” type petals that curve away from deep orange stamens. Likes filtered light, dry soil. Too wet and it rots. Multiplies.

Tolmiea menziesii “Taff’s Gold.” Also known as piggyback plant, this Northwest native groundcover gives a “chartreuse punch” to the garden, Matlock says. Can plant it right next to fir trees. Looks beautiful with mondo grass; trails beautifully out of a container. Ocimum ‘African Blue’ (African basil). Here’s a drought-tolerant basil that actually tolerates cool summers. And as a cut flower, Matlock Dig is located at 19028 Vashon Highway. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tues.-Sun. Visit its website at or call 463-5096.

This season at Kathy’s Corner: Brilliant flowers and amazing tomatoes

Papaver rupifragrum blooms March through November. says, it will last two months in a vase. Pacific Coast Hybrid Irises. Many breeders are working with these crosses between iris tenax and Pacific Northwest native grass irises, producing 3- to 4-foot blooms fabulously streaked. They like dry shade or sun and good drainage; they tuck in well with shrubs, providing dense, weed-barrier evergreen growth. Papaver rupifragrum. A tangerine poppy with evergreen leaves that takes partial shade and drought. Blooms March through November if the seedpods are deadheaded. Sedum Palmeri. A fleshy, blue-green sedum that takes sun or shade and is evergreen. It looks very exotic but is tough as nails. Matlock calls it “a workhorse.” Mahonia nervosa. This deer-proof evergreen shrub, also called Oregon grape, can be planted next to firs and does not suffer from root competition. Good for bees and hummingbirds as a winter nectar source. Manzanita densiflora ‘Howard McMinn.’ This Pacific Northwest coastal native — Matlock’s favorite native — has clusters of bell flowers like those of pieris, but they’re light violet and bloom in January or February. Requires great drainage. In the

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Kathy Wheaton has been with pinkish-purple florets in the nursery business of differing sizes. The best vine of the year, many years and has seen bar none, she said, is a honmany new varieties come eysuckle called “peaches and and go. Even so, this year cream,” with pink and white has her particularly excited, bicolor florets. Wheaton as some of the newest plants calls the flowers “big, exotic to come onto the scene and yummy.” The vine only are enough to make even grows to about eight feet, a longtime nursery owner stays contained and blooms swoon. First, the flowers. all season. Petunias, she said, “are Wheaton also cannot say not like the ones your enough about the amazing grandmother used to grow.” strains of tomatoes entering Varieties will be featured the market. One, a hybrid this year with fabulous called Defiant, is late blightnew colors, she said — like tolerant, great on Vashon, one called “pretty much with its late summers. There Picasso,” a magenta-colored are also a half-dozen new flower whose petals are varieties ideal for containfringed in chartreuse. Or the The pistachio hydrangea is ers, some of which cascade one of Wheaton’s favorites. new papaya petunia — with over the sides in a lovely rich salmon-colored flowers. fashion. Propagators have also wowed her with With all these choices, she added, their new varieties of hydrangeas, another “Anybody can now grow tomatoes.” grandmotherly plant that is experiencing a renaissance. “It’s an old-fashioned plant that has come so far,” Wheaton said. Kathy’s Corner, located at 18025 Vashon Consider one called pistachio, with florets Highway, will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that are a striking blend of deep pinks, seven days a week starting April 1. Call 463-9416 for more information. blues and shades of bronze. Twist-n-Shout is another new variety, an elegant plant

Colvos Creek Nursery: A place to find natives and rare plants Colvos Creek Nursery, owned by Mike Lee, specializes in native and rare plants, as well as drought-tolerant plants that grow well in Northwest gardens. Popular these days, he said, is the Chilean fire tree, with brilliant red flowers, and grevillea, an Australian shrub that hummingbirds love. He’s also one of the few nurserymen who grows madronas, a tree considered hard to cultivate. Colvos Creek is located at the Country Store, at 20211 Vashon Highway, and its hours are the same as the store, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. Lee is at the nursery on Saturdays or call him at 465-0895.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012 • Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

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Opening Day for Flea Season is just around the corner! We can help you control those pesky pests. And your fur-person probably needs a fashionable new collar to update their spring wardrobe.

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