Fat Cat Garden and Gifts
When: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., daily, except closed Tuesdays.
Where: 21 Fat Cat Lane
For the past 14 years Jee Miller has been discovering her ability to garden.
What started as Jee and Bruce Miller’s personal garden in 2001 has evolved into five harmonious landscaped acres filled with U-pick wildflowers, lavender and berries. Multiple beds of vegetables, including many Asian varieties, are also integrated into the land, reflecting Jee’s Chinese culture.
“I am a city girl,” Jee said. “I had never grown anything before.”
After meeting her husband, Bruce, while operating a beauty shop in Saipan, Jee moved with Bruce to his 40-acres in Arizona.
“She liked the view, but the second thing Jee asked once we got to Arizona was, ‘Does anything grow in America?’” Bruce said.
In hopes of proving America does have fertile soil, Bruce and Jee came to Sequim as tourists. It wasn’t long before they returned, but this time to stay, settling on five acres bordered by Matriotti Creek along Fat Cat Lane.
“We came here to raise a family,” Bruce said. “It’s the perfect place.”
Following the foot steps of his older brother, Jee and Bruce’s youngest son just graduated from Sequim High School.
With the help of family, including Jee’s cousins and mother who regularly visit, Jee and Bruce maintain and continue to grow Fat Cat Garden and Gifts.
Given English was a foreign language, it was by pure determination and dedication that Jee learned to garden via translating gardening books given to her by a neighbor.
“If you really want to do something, you just have to learn,” she said. “This is my first chance at doing something like this.”
Unearthing a natural knack for growing things, Jee grows an array of vegetables, fresh herbs, garlic and berries. Colorful U-pick wildflowers and a sprawling lavender field complement the gardens, which are kept free of pests by a resident flock of ducks and chickens.
When Jee’s not pruning, harvesting or weeding the gardens, she expresses her creativity by hand-making many of the unique crafts within the farm’s shop, such as lavender body products, essential oils, honey, jams and herbs. Jee also carries many types of teas from her travels back to China.
With only periodic help from family, both Jee and Bruce admit that managing Fat Cat Garden and Gifts is a lot of work, however, they agree it’s become their passion.
“I always say ‘just keep moving,’” Jee said. “I love what I am doing.”
Fat Cat Garden and Gifts is a new stop among the farms and nursery of the Sequim Lavender Growers Association that are open and free to the public during Sequim Lavender Festival, part of Sequim Lavender Weekend, July 17-19.
Question: What is your favorite part of your job?
“I meet a lot of nice people here and they really appreciate what I’m doing,” Jee said.
“She (Jee) makes friends with everyone,” Bruce said.
Question: What is your favorite event in Sequim?
“I like the Irrigation Festival and parade,” Bruce said.
“Lavender weekend is fun, too, but it’s a lot of hard work,” he said.
“Lavender weekend is just so busy that the time goes by very fast,” Jee said.
Question: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Personally, I think to forgive,” Jee said. “I always let go of the bad things and start fresh eachday.”
Question: At first, did you know how to pronounce Sequim?
“I don’t think so,” Bruce said. “I can’t quite remember, but I am sure I had to learn.”
Question: Who is your favorite person?
“Cheri – a good friend that’s been here to help us since the beginning,” Bruce said.
In Random Questions, members of the community each draw five random questions (sometimes more) out of 50 from a bag and he/she will answer these questions for your entertainment. With suggestions for random interviews, e-mail Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.