Birch Dream by the Sea

(This is a 2017 garden description. Gardens for this year’s tour can be found here.)

Photo by Nancy Wilcox

The front and back gardens of this lovely home on Puget Sound are in direct contrast to each other. A woodland garden of refuge and calm is welcoming in front, whereas a Mediterranean-style entertaining garden on the water side adapts well to the harsh demands of the hot, western exposure and salty air. The visitor is greeted by a 100-year-old, craggy hawthorn next to a driveway whose cold expanse was softened by jack-hammering the cracks so they could be planted with thyme and sedum. Stretching toward the house is a birch grove with understory of ferns, spireas, ajuga, and oakleaf hydrangeas.

Horsetail “gone to college” (common weed in a pot), Equisetum hyemale, lends an architectural look to the sleek lines of the 1973 home, remodeled in 2014. Here you make a turn to the ‘Starlight’ dogwood in the side garden, also featuring ‘Setsugekka’ camellia, nandina, jasmine, black mondo grass, and hostas. The cutting and herb garden flanks the south side of the house, with mugo pines marching toward the water.

Blue oat grass, lavender and rosemary give a Mediterranean feel to the home’s waterside. The large potted ‘Morning Light’ maiden grass yields year-round interest and screening for the durable ipe wood deck. Bordered by ‘Mood Indigo’ Lily of the Nile, a decades-old grape vine and Puget Sound, the blue stone patio accommodates seaside dining. A nearby fire pit provides a sunset-viewing and stargazing gathering place. The marine-grade stainless steel railing at the bulkhead allows for unhindered views of the Sound while keeping the grandchildren safe. This garden of contrasts is there for its owners when they want to cook, entertain, garden, stargaze, or sit around the campfire—a lovely place to spend a life.

Not wheelchair accessible.