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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Alchemy on Vashon Island; The Garden of Brian Fisher and Peter Chris

 
 
What wizzardry could turn this

into this? 
My friends Brian and Peter bought this uninhabitable shack in 1993.
It sits on five beautiful acres on Vashon Island.  Who wouldn't fall in love with pristine property that looked like this?




The first six images are property of Brian Fisher/Peter Chris and used with their permission.
 
Here is some interesting information provided by Peter and Brian:
 

"We bought this property in September 1993.  The advertisement caption in the Beachcomber [Vashon's local newspaper] read "This house is not without problems." In fact we bought the property as land because the structure though fairly well built could not legally be considered a house.  A hand dug well supplied water to an outside shower and a kitchen sink on the second floor.  I think there were two outhouses.

It was built as a garage and had tarp openings to a work bay at the front which is now my print studio and another opening which is now the kitchen and dining area.  A huge hoist hung off a column in that area.  There was also one of the biggest welders I have ever seen where the fireplace is now.  

The structure had no insulation and only three windows, although on the second floor there was a doorway that opened out onto air. It was heated by a huge steel handmade furnace.  We had to have someone in with a torch to cut it up into movable size chunks.  Things like that took forever.  The property was covered with metal.  I came to think of the man who had made this mess as a giant magnet.  He had quite a reputation as a mechanic and welder and I guess made many custom hot rods.  We hauled off; 24 cars, 2 busses, a Reo dump truck, two big boat trailers and a miscellany of chest freezers, barrels full of scrap metal and steel appliances.  Oh I forgot the 50's panel van with electric too it that stood about where the water feature is now and was fitted out as another little shop. There are still several cars with trees growing through them at the top of the property.  There were 100s of tires. 

It took a couple years to get the big stuff off but in that time we had the well dug and septic put in and started the remodel.  I think we finally moved here in September 1995 though we still did not have kitchen cabinets or sink.  I remember every week when I talked to my parents my father would ask. Do you have a sink yet?  How can you live without a sink?"
 
So, I guess the answer to the original  question is that a lot of hard work transformed this property!  Or did they simply get a box of "Shack Be Gone" and liberally apply it? Recently a friend and I visited what is now a gorgeous garden and home.  Here are some  current images.
 
 If you've attended the Vashon Island Tour of gardens or Vashon Island Artist Studio tours, this garden and home may look familliar to you.



 You are being watched!
You may remember an earlier post about Brian's stunning artwork here.  When walking the garden, you'll notice some of  his "Threshold Guardians."
 
 
 
To see much more of Brian's work, be sure to check out his website here and his blog here.
 
Every garden needs a fierce watchdog!  Be careful, you may be snuggled to death!
 


The elaborate pergola which you've no doubt been admiring was designed and built by Brian.  I don't think there is anything this man can't do.  I'm always in awe of his abilities.
 Our gracious hosts enjoying their morning coffee in their gorgeous garden. 
 
Faboo metal crows.


What could be sweeter than experiencing the summer sun's first warming rays in this peaceful setting, humming birds darting this way and that?

 
Much as I'm a fan of big metal yard art, I think this looks much better without the trucks, appliances,  and tires.  Am I right?  Peter for many years hauled the annual legal limit of used tires to Vashon's landfil, causing an attendant to advise him that commercial entities were not allowed this privilege. 
 
The more structured garden gently transitions into the lovely wooded acreage which, with it's paths and  hillside gullies, invites exploration.


I apologize for the bad quality of the following couple of pictures but I wanted to share these two pieces of Brian's work which are not present on his website.


 The interior of the home is also a visual delight.  I remember the creation of this amazing handrail.

The television's changing images become part of this work.  Brian has created many of these "Telemones."  For more images of these go here.

The bad news is that we had to leave, the good news is that we went to have brunch, view Brian's latest show and do some nursery shopping.   What a spendid way to spend a day!
 

24 comments:

  1. What an amazingly gorgeous garden and home! So much work and love went into it, obviously. I want that pergola. I don't have room for it, but I still want it. OK, maybe I want its little brother. I haven't done the Vashon Island garden tour. I hope they're on it next year. Thanks so much for sharing your visit!

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    1. I'm with you on that as I've lusted after that pergola or series of interconnected pergolas myself even though, like you, I've no space for it. Glad you enjoyed the visit.

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  2. O M G! That is pretty much my dream setting! Seriously, I sort of daydream about retiring to Vashon Island. I can't believe how amazing their garden looks...especially in light of the "before" photos...I'd never want to leave!

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    1. Vashon Island is pretty cool! If I'm able to retire before I die, maybe I'll see you there. Those guys did an amazing job of transforming their property.

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  3. Wow...not afraid of a little work eh? Pretty amazing transformation! (and I love that stair rail!)

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    1. I personally think that insanity played a large part in the decision to buy the place but don't tell anyone I said so. Just a tiny bit of work.

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  4. Quite a change! That art is awesome! They are men who aren't afraid of hard work...

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  5. Wow! That property is stunning! It looks like some kind of botanical garden now. I feel tired just thinking about the kind of work that would take. YIKES! its amazing!

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  6. Gorgeous, the transformation is so stunning! So much work went into that, first cleaning up and then rebuilding.

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    1. These guys certainly have much more vision than I! (And much more energy & patience!)

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  7. Such an amazing transformation, a beautiful oasis and a cute and cuddly dog too.

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    1. Truly beautiful and the dog had me at hello!

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  8. wow, wow, and more Wows! I'm exhausted looking at the before pictures! What a gorgeous garden and home and what an amazing transformation.

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    1. That's a lot of wows, and every one of them is well deserved! The guys are smart and kind folk who have worked very hard for this and it's delightful to see them enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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  9. Absolutely beautiful. But why did they have to get rid of the truck? Think of the mega-planter it would have made!

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    1. Truly a pity as it would have made quite a statement. However, not everyone seems to possess the refined artistic sense that you and I share in matters of garden ornamentation.

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  10. We have always commented on the taste of the folks who inhabited our homes before us...but then we only had to deal with mattresses, a few truck tires, a jalopy, beer bottles and the like. Never the quantity of stuff these gentlemen inherited!
    So much to explore and admire... Beautiful.
    The dog too. :)

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    1. They did an incredible amount of cleaning up! We were lucky and only had a bicycle and matress to haul away from our yard. That dog is some kind of wonderful!

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  11. That's quite the before and after--WOW! I am making a mental bookmark of that amazing pergola for my dream house.

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    1. The pergola is way cool! My pictures don't show how great it really is. Glad you like it too!

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  12. Peter, You make us look so good I almost want to live there, here! Thanks for your visit and wonderful blogs. Thanks too for all the kind remarks about our garden. Brian

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    1. Thank you for your hospitality and for being crazy enough to rescue that gorgeous property!

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.