Pocket Paradise 

 Photo by Nancy Wilcox

Photo by Nancy Wilcox

A few steps down from the sidewalk, lies a hidden gem of a garden. A glance as you walk by will not tell the whole story here. 

Massive stone steps lead to a hand-laid bluestone patio, softened by numerous maples and a large witch hazel (Hamamelis) all underplanted with lush hostas, ferns and oakleaf hydrangeas. It is a cool oasis in the heat of summer and a beautiful framework of branching forms in winter. Notice the espaliered camellia along the house and cotoneaster along the fence. Small touches like a door-side table and chair, mirrors, and lichen-covered birdhouses enliven the space. 

A set of stairs along the north side of the house leads to a favorite place in the garden—a series of pools and waterfalls cascading down the backyard hillside to a large koi-filled pond. Japanese maples, grasses, ferns, and small evergreens surround the pools for a natural feel. What was once a large area of grass and shrubbery is now a place of serenity. 

Bridging the last two ponds, stepping stones lead to an arbor and pergola-covered sitting area. Be sure to look for a clever addition to the fence screening the yard from the alley. 

The garden plant list includes: Fatsia japonica, Japanese laceleaf maples, ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maples, coral bark maple, wzitch hazel, oakleaf hydrangea, climbing hydrangea, ferns, nandina, Camellia sasanqua (espaliered), Solomon’s seal, and creeping wire vine (Muehlenbeckia). 

One might never guess that Mella is from Texas. She and Dennis moved from there in 1983 and to their West Seattle home in 1984. Captivated by all of the plants that can be grown here, she set to work on what has become her lifelong hobby. After many trials and transformations she thinks she has arrived at the right combinations. For now. 

Not wheelchair accessible.