Ballard Neighborhood, Seattle WA

A Ballard bungalow lovingly restored by its owner deserved a fitting garden. As a master gardener, the client loves plants and hired me to create a comprehensive plan that addressed specific issues (like screening the apartment house next door and making a deep parking strip an extension of the garden). I focused on plants that would create structure with emphasis on seasonal focal points so there is always something interested popping up or coming into bloom.

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Looking back at winter for spring planning

What is your winter garden telling you about its overall design?  Using Witch Hazel, Hellebores and other winter blooming plants bring color and depth while the bare deciduous plantings and wetter weather expose the core of your landscape plan for you to scrutinize.  Use this time to assess how your landscape design is working. How did it look during the winter months? Are there things that did not work the way you hoped or features that you would add? The final weeks of winter are the best time to incorporate any lessons learned from this winter into a landscape plan. Things to take note of include:


  • Screening and privacy: Did you have the coverage you wanted when deciduous trees loose their leaves?
  • Circulation: Are pathways and patios in the best location? Is it easy to walk the entire garden and keep your feet dry?
  • Structure: Are garden focal points and plant groupings positioned for views from inside the house too?
  • Winter color: Do perennial borders need something additional for dormant season interest? Would evergreen color and texture add depth?
  • Outdoor living: Did you have sufficient covered space for being outside on wetter or colder days?

You don’t need to wait for spring to start thinking about your seasonal transition or about your longer range plans for your garden.


Landscape Design. Serving Greater Seattle including Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville, south King County, Shoreline, Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville, Lake Forest Park and south Snohomish County.


Old Can Be New In Landscape Design

If you have been active in your garden space for more than a few years, you might remember the arrival of the New Zealand Flax as a trend in the 1990s. This episode was testimony to the fact that garden design is as susceptible to the influences of trends as architecture and fashion, with many great new discoveries and the occasional strategic mishit. When Flax was first introduced as a landscape plant, it was often used without a plan as a garden accent and surprised many unsuspecting gardeners when it catapulted up to 10 feet high and became the visual and spatial equivalent of a hostile-takeover.  In the following years, exotic and showy cultivars were developed.  Stunning varieties of Flax, such as the Phormuim ‘Jester’  returned to the catwalks of garden design as an annual or a focal point in a seasonal plantings. Today it is still a good option in the right setting.  Not always as hearty as the original variety, it may not last through a tough winter. Plan to use it as a short term addition to your landscape and you won’t be disappointed. It might survive, which would be an added treat.  If you are worried about trying marginally hearty species or experimenting with a new plant, think about trying it in a container or plant  just one in the perfect spot in your garden.  Then, see what happens!

With some of our emerging issues with climate change, temperature zones could shift just enough to impact what thrives in any given location. In fact, the USDA recently made small adjustments to a couple temperature zones in the southern United States.  Having worked as a garden designer in the Pacific Northwest for my entire career, I am in tune with the best plan picks for this area and subtle changes in the local environment that influence the best plant choice for any garden location.

Trends can be a positive and a fun way to experiment with seasonal changes.  You can also take trends in the opposite direction too. If you have an older and established Rhododendron, you can prune it and shape it to bring back an element of a classic look next to older homes and buildings.

I’ll never stop being captivated but what’s new, adjusting my vision on what is “old” and enjoying how this turns out in my garden space. If you are feeling restless about your garden space, think about adding something new. Give me a call and I am glad to help you experiment with this.

Plant waterwise plants and love the results this summer!

Many people have work and family commitments that leave them without time to regularly keep up with watering. Vacations and business travel can see gardens untended for a couple of weeks at a time, and long days at work can turn into dried gardens at home.

Gardens need watering on a changing basis depending on the time of year and also on the characteristics of the garden. If your garden has fast-draining sandy soil, a southwest exposure or is exposed to high winds, it can be especially susceptible to dry weather periods. Also, newer landscapes will need supplemental water during the first one or two years before they start to establish and grow deep roots. Irrigation systems provide options to manage these situations. They range from soakers to programmable systems with automatic rain sensors and timers. These save time and also make it easier to ask friends and neighbors to help with watering when you are not available.

If you like the idea of conserving water in general, you can also design drought tolerant gardens by selecting species that are adapted to the Pacific Northwest. Many native plants can survive the hot, dry spells along with the range of soggy to freezing climate variations that we have throughout the year. To keep the design palette interesting, drought tolerant plants from other regions as well as some exotic annual varieties add color and interest.

Let me know if you want to consider options for summer gardens, and we can discuss perfect plants and other options to keep your outdoor spaces fresh and enjoyable.


Mercer Island, WA

Curb appeal. Native plants and ornamentals, pop under a canopy of mature Douglas Fir.