A Mid-Century Rocky Revival

Photo by Nancy Wilcox

Photo by Nancy Wilcox

Architect Sheri Olsen fell for a mid-century modern home with a mid-century garden whose plantings were nearing the end of their lifespans. She wanted to update and create garden areas to better reflect a changing climate, a modern aesthetic and add outdoor living space to take advantage of Puget Sound views. Not a long-time gardener, Sheri knew partnering with a landscape designer (Land2c’s Katherine King) would be the best way to implement her environmentally friendly, low-maintenance ideas. Garden renovation began in 2017 and was largely completed by the summer of 2018.

This climate-friendly xeriscape model of planting requires minimal care and water. It is organic, with a lot of permeable surface area, and features carefully selected plants that attract birds, bees, and butterflies.

The curving, gravel-mulched strip garden along the left side of the driveway is planted with phormium, Russian sage (Perovskia), ice plant (Delosperma),  sedum, grasses, daisies, and two varieties of sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale ‘Moerheim Beauty’, ‘Mardi Gras’). It presents an exciting mix of color and texture. To the right, a slate-gray fence sets off a collection of mounded, vertical and ground-hugging plants in combination with river rock cobble and gravel.

Just beyond the fence, a view patio has been created where airy pale pink gaura rises above a water pot. The repeating elements of red yucca (Hesperaloe parvifolia), Russian sage (Perovskia), and tall grasses create unity and color harmony, keeping visual interest high throughout the gardens in all seasons.

Continue around the house to a cool, secluded terrace garden bordered by the original rockery and rhododendrons. It is a quiet place to observe birds attracted to gentle sounds of burbling water. Like the birds, you too, will want to stay.

Wheelchair accessible.