More stops on the tour

In a few weeks I’ll tour several public gardens while visiting the Seattle, Washington area, and fortunately I’ll be on my own to stroll at a leisurely pace. While some gardens with massed floral displays can be dashed through, detailed combinations require more time, more than my wife (and probably anyone else) is willing to put up with.

Added into the scene of yellow and orange azaleas and the white fringetree are the newly opened terrestrial orchids (Bletilla). From a few orchids purchased the clumps increased so that I have transplanted many to other parts of the garden, and dug and potted clumps for our sons.

I see the same thing with visitors to this garden. As their tour guide I must gauge the level of interest to skim past details, or to delve into every nook and cranny. There are many nooks, more than will ever appear on this page, but after an overview of the garden a few days ago, here are a few closer looks.

The soil bordering the forested, southeastern edge of the garden was root filled, so a year ago an area with fewer roots was raised and bordered by small boulders. This half sun area was planted with a ‘Ryusen’ Japanese maple, a few dwarf ginkgoes, and a variety of perennials to fill the gaps. Already this spring I see that lower, overhanging branches of the long established ‘Merrill’ magnolia will require trimming for this new border planting to remain visible, but I’m thrilled with how quickly this small area has filled in.

The lawn in the lower, rear garden was a damp, weedy mess a few years ago. So, the sod was dug and mounded, bordered by rocks, then planted. Granite pavers surround the new planting. Last year, the border of the new planting was expanded with more rock, but rather than filling with soil, gravel filled the gaps to improve drainage for a small rock garden area. In mounded soil plants are thriving, so it should not be too many years until this grows in.

Too colorful? I suppose the contrast of the purple smoke bush and yellow elderberry are a cheap thrill, and combined with the red horse chestnut this might be too much. Not for me.

The fire pit is the burn pile for garden debris that doesn’t go to the compost pile. On rare occasion I will sit to enjoy a fire on a cool day, but mostly it serves to reduce waste.

The trip through the garden is slowed by leaf covered stone paths, and branches that hang low or obstruct the paths. This path is half covered by this sprawling ‘Autumn Twist’ azalea and a dwarf cyryptomeria. I substantiate the obstructed paths to my wife by claiming the intent is to slow the visitor’s pace so they observe the garden more completely. For some reason, she doesn’t buy it.

The circular, upper patio is now no more than a walkway with a globose blue spruce, a green Viridis Japanese maple, and Ostrich ferns overhanging. I could chop everything back, but why? This patio was the first of several constructed over the years. It’s become very rustic, with no plans on my part to update it.

When I pulled into the driveway yesterday, my wife was showing the rear garden to new neighbors who had often walked by the front, but wondered what lurked out back. After a minute in the back garden they wondered when the day comes that the house (and garden) must go on the market, if buyers would be scared off by the extent of the garden and the time required to keep it up. That’ll be a problem for our sons when the time comes.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom Mack says:

    Beautiful work, thanks for sharing your garden.



    Sent from my iPhone


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  2. Carla Pfund says:


    div dir=”ltr”>It looks so pretty.  I wish I were close enough to view

    1. Dave says:

      Tom and Carla, until a few days ago when my wife met new neighbors and toured them through the garden, she would return home from work and go indoors. The past few days she says, “why would I be inside”?

  3. Louise Kahane says:

    Thank you once again for sharing inspirations and information!

  4. Bonnie C. says:

    Hi Dave!
    What are the potted spiky/palm-type plants in the red horse chestnut photo?

    1. Dave says:

      Two Yucca rostrata are planted, perfectly cold hardy in our coldest winters. Every year, I debate removing the old leaves, but so far, err on the unmanicured look.

  5. Tina Utz says:

    Hey Dave ..
    Can you you help me identify a bush that was planted in my parent’s garden by their builder??
    They are NOT fans of it as it is constantly sending out runners even when drastically cut back.
    I’ve been tasked with identifying and finding a way of eliminating it. 😳

    I’m not sure how to include a photo here..

    1. Dave says:

      I’d be happy to take a look. Please send photos to [email protected]

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