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For the Love of Gardening

A close-up photo of a dahlia bloom covered in dew drops.

Donation of beloved land will benefit Master Gardener program

Walking around their football-field-sized garden, Drew and Fusa Coleman know every tree and plant by heart. That’s because they planted each one, treasuring the results of the work involved.

“I love it here,” Fusa Coleman said. “I put my soul into this property and this land.”

That land is eight acres of beautiful forest just outside Port Townsend, Wash. In addition to their prodigious garden, they’ve cut walking trails amongst the native tree species they planted and built their home and workshops here, a labor of love that both continue to work on as much as possible. Any land not used for buildings or the garden is sheltered with beautiful Douglas firs on sloping, hilly terrain.

On a late fall day, the trees blaze with colors as flowers bloom all around and seem to soak up the light fog.

“We love it here,” Drew Coleman said. “My wife spends up to 15 hours a day outside, tending to the garden or in the woods. She’s attached to the land.”

But the Colemans know they won’t live forever, and they don’t have children. So, they are leaving their estate to WSU to support the Master Gardener program, establishing a training center where peo­ple can come to learn about gardening or new gardening techniques.

Amazingly, the Colemans are not, and never have been, involved with the Master Gardener program. And neither has any substantial ties to WSU. They heard about the program through a friend and felt like it fit perfectly with the legacy they hope to leave.

“Our friend Bob Bryan went through the Master Gardener program and teaches there now,” Drew said. “It sounded like such a great program, so we looked into it a little more and thought our garden would be helpful for future generations.”

They want the land preserved like it is, with most of the acreage untouched.

“We know we could sell the land or leave it to another organization that could sell it,” said Drew, a San Francisco native. “But then it would be subdivided with houses on it. That’s fine, but not what we want. We know the WSU Master Garden­ers will take care of it and use it.”

The Colmans in their garden.
Fusa and Drew Coleman

A gift from the heart

The Master Gardener Program, part of WSU Extension, will greatly benefit from the Colemans’ generosity.

“The Master Gardener program has minimal funding from the state,” said Mike Gaffney, acting director of WSU Extension. “It owes its success over the years to the efforts of volunteers and donations like this.”

He said the Colemans’ donation will create opportunities for the program that have never been available before any­where in the state.

“This is a unique opportunity for events, training, and garden development,” Gaffney said. “We have other demonstra­tion gardens that are smaller. This is a whole different scale for the Master Gardener program. It will open up some amazing opportunities for future gardeners.”

The Colemans bought the land 25 years ago, after it had been clear-cut. They have built every structure themselves, and only just put it on the electrical grid about three years ago. They rarely need to tap into the grid, running everything off solar panels, Drew said.

He even milled all the wood for the house in his workshop. Everything on the property is a labor of love.

Fusa, a native of Japan, is a ceramics artist. She has her own workshop with a kiln and proudly displays her creations around their house.

“We both have lots of hobbies,” said Drew, who still works as a biotechnology facilities consultant. “We’ll never finish all the projects we have going on, or the plans we have for the property. But that’s half the fun. We love working on it.”

The couple, who met when they were both judo instructors, say that their property is home to eagles, cougars, deer, bobcats, and other wildlife.

“We want someone who will care for this land after we’re gone,” Fusa said. “We know the Master Gardeners will take great care with it.”

A small bridge in a garden.
Stalks of a variety of dahlias in a small greenhouse.


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