Waterwise Oasis

(This is a 2018 garden description. Gardens for this year’s tour can be found here.)

Photo by Nancy Wilcox

Photo by Nancy Wilcox

When the owners purchased their home in 2007, blackberry vines fifteen-feet deep in the backyard presented a serious obstacle to their dream garden. There were, however, strong elements worth keeping: a large walnut tree anchoring the back corner of the yard and a graceful old Rainier cherry tree near the house. Everything else had to go. After that, it was all a blank slate, as they planned for waterwise and low-maintenance garden spaces. 

Enter through the south gate and pass between potted bamboo and a large myrtle. The backyard opens up in a surprise view. 

The owners took advantage of Seattle’s RainWise program to install a rain garden and cistern system. The rain garden includes some unusual edible plants as well as plants attractive to pollinators—all under the watchful eye of a patinaed metal sea serpent. Weathered bamboo fencing camouflages cyclone fencing and adds privacy on the north side of this garden which has become one of the owners’ favorite spots. 

A small greenhouse provides a jumpstart for plants before they move on to more permanent homes in movable raised-bed planting boxes. A small woodworking studio sits comfortably under the walnut tree. Under the shade of the Rainier cherry tree that continues to bear copious fruit, a patio of stone pavers connects with a wood deck and hot tub to create that little oasis. 

Every garden renovation has challenges and surprises—challenges like finding the perfect spot for a Tasmanian pepper tree and surprises like the calla lilies that sprout where least expected. Gardens continually change and evolve over time as do the gardeners living in the space. One success leads to an additional idea and the dream is realized, but never finished. 

Wheelchair accessible.