Skagit Symphony’s Garden Tour Cancelled
With regret, the Skagit Symphony Garden Tour is canceled for this year in hopes to further support our local community’s recovery during this trying time. We continue to share this wonderful story behind the making of Toni and John Christianson’s personal garden and look forward to the return of next year’s Garden Tour.
From the personal garden of Toni and John Christianson
Toni and John started planting the gardens that surround their 1872 farmhouse in 1995. They both grew up enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables from their parent’s gardens and so their decision to plant a small orchard in the very back of their two acres was an easy one. From that small start 25 years ago, their garden has continued to grow in erratic fashion depending on their time but, more importantly, their agreement on design. After working out the design of their vegetable garden, it was planted next to the orchard within a 50 x 50-foot space. Raised beds made of stacked rubble make up three sections of the garden and a small greenhouse and potting shed make up the fourth section of the quadrant. Agreeing on the need for a playground for children and grandchildren they installed a grand double swing and salvaged schoolhouse slide next to the veggie garden. Moving forward to the garden behind the house was one of the design challenges for the couple as was the garden outside the front door. John likes unusual trees and shrubs while Toni likes cottage gardens. Their final agreement came with a separation of space. John took the space outside the immediate gardens that are in front and back of their house. Together they decided on the fences and hedges that separate each of their gardens and then designing and planting went on slowly but peacefully for the next 20 years. Toni planted the colorful front garden and all-white back garden with old varieties of primroses, bulbs, lilacs, peonies, fragrant roses, and an assortment of other old-fashioned perennials. John planted the spaces around these more formal gardens with many trees and shrubs he considers underused in home gardens, including Magnolia seiboldii, Catsura, Stachyurus praecox, and Strawberry Tree while leaving in place old lilac trees and a nearly 100-year-old Gravenstein apple tree original to the property. The length of the east side of the property is pasture for Shetland sheep and a small flock of Rhode Island Red chickens. The rest of their animals include a collie named Sophie and a cat named Toby along with catch and release trespassers of raccoons, possums, rabbits, and the occasional weasel. Deer and Bald Eagles are another story. Toni and John play an ongoing game of protecting the plants from the deer and the chickens from the eagles. Sophie was supposed to be the answer, but she loves wildlife as much as they do.