When walking through any neighborhood in early summer, you will discover how tempting it is to peek around the rose bushes to catch a glimpse of the garden beyond. The Boston Harbor Garden Club invites you into six unique and beautiful gardens on their walking tour on Sunday, June 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Meeting the gardeners themselves and listening to their stories is a treat that simply looking over the fence does not provide. The walking tour will also offer other stops along the way: detour to The Boston Harbor Marina for a snack, enjoy the artists’ displays nearby at the corner of 73rd and Commercial, and wander up to 72nd and Bayview to visit Dan Michael’s Stonemason Shop.

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Pam Trautman’s peaceful back garden is a haven for hummingbirds, bees, and her chickens. Photo credit: Pam Trautman

When you arrive in Boston Harbor, tickets will be available at the “Shipwreck Corner,” easily found at the “T” of Boston Harbor Road. Stop here first to purchase your ticket and pick up your map as well. The $10.00 entry fee helps the “Sewer Sisters” Garden Club maintain the entry corner as well as support other garden club activities. Tickets can also be purchased at the Marina and at the gardens themselves. The brainchild of Janey Koester, a founder of the club, the first tour took place in June, 2005, and has continued every other year since.

All the gardens this year are within walking distance of the center of Boston Harbor with two stops close to the marina and are worth you time to visit, browse and find inspiration. The oldest and the newest gardens on the tour provide an interesting contrast and I’ll feature them here.

The Oldest Garden

On the corner of 73rd and Commercial, Pam Troutman’s beautiful garden has been growing for almost 47 years. Walking by, I am always so tempted by her fragrant, colorful sweet peas, envisioning how nice they would look on my dining room table. I also restrain myself when, by the same beds, an abundance of dahlias bloom and tayberries cover the bushes. Pam told me, “Those tayberries make to-die-for freezer jam.” Even though Pam and her late husband Bill moved into their home in the early seventies, some areas of her garden boast long-standing plantings, but as she said, “I am always changing it up and adding new elements.”

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Pam Trautman’s beautiful garden wall. Photo credit: Pam Trautman

On a beautiful sunny morning, we sat under her grape arbor in the back garden (where the Sewer Sisters often meet) and talked about the old and new in her garden. “We built the arbor shortly after we moved in and planted rose bushes, hydrangeas, azaleas and lilacs in various parts of our garden.” Colorful pots are scattered around the back courtyard with a wonderful variety of garden art (don’t miss Pam’s version of a Haight tree strewn with Mardi Gras beads) to create a beautiful outdoor living space shared with hummingbirds, other bird varieties, Mason bees and chickens.

In Pam’s garden, located just across the street adjacent to the artists’ displays, you will notice a slightly weathered sign announcing Trautman’s Berry Farm. The sign and the strawberries growing in the bed are a legacy from Pam’s youth, growing up in Montesano near her grandparents’ strawberry farm.

The Newest Garden

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The Ruhl’s work was cut out for them to clear the ivy from the garden when they first moved to their home in Boston Harbor.
Photo credit: Cindy Ruhl

From Pam’s garden head back to Boston Harbor Road and follow the signs. When you reach 77th Avenue, turn right up the hill to the Ruhls’ Garden, which they have totally renovated in the three years they have lived in Boston Harbor. When Cyndi and Greg purchased the home, one entire hillside bordering the driveway was covered in deeply-rooted ivy. Greg, who grew up mowing lawns most weekends of his youth, was determined never to do that chore if he could help it, so they set out to create a natural, low maintenance landscape.  It took months of hard work, however, to pull the ivy in order to make the space new again.

Being partial to rocks and driftwood, Greg worked around existing trees and rhodies to create a wonderland for their four young grandchildren. Swings are scattered around among the trees with a zip line in the center. Moving from this area, we walked on a path formed from cobblestones used at the turn of the century in Seattle streets.

At the end of the path, a gorgeous view of the water awaits you and two small, raised areas where grass has been removed and replaced with beautifully placed flagstone make it an ideal spot to relax. Other plantings adorn this area as well. Cyndi pointed out a small oak growing in a pot. “We started that from an acorn we got at the 9/11 Memorial a few years ago,” she said. This expanse is so inviting you will not want to leave.

The Ruhl’s new low maintenance natural landscape and haven for their grandchildren.

I have to apologize to the four other gardeners, but space does not allow deserving descriptions—so much to see. You will have to provide your own compliments to those green-thumbed artists when you visit them on June 25.

Many of the gardens will have plant starts available for a donation, and there will be several plants available for purchase near the artist displays. Parking is available throughout the area, but please be considerate of pedestrians and residents when you choose your spot.

Inspiration awaits in Boston Harbor on Sunday, June 25. And while you stroll between the six featured gardens, chances are you’ll see many more that inspire lingering. Venture a peek into these other gardens along the way, too. You never know – they may end up on next year’s tour.

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