Tour of VW Garden


Welcome to my Spokane Valley garden.  Our home faces south and is located on a quarter acre plot in a typical suburban neighborhood.  When we bought the house in 2007, the landscape consisted of a few boring shrubs, one wilted tree, and poor quality lawn everywhere else.  Since then we have been working hard to build something special.  The photo above shows the front in May 2014, with 'Walker's Low' catmint beginning its long bloom season.


Here we back up to April 2014 to see the spring tulips and creeping phlox in full bloom.  By June the English rose bushes are the stars of the show, and after their first flush finishes the daylilies bloom in July and August.  By September the roses are starting another round of blooms.  Lavender catmint and 'Rozanne' hardy geraniums add color throughout the summer.


This is the view of the front when looking northwest toward our neighbor's home.  As the trees grow larger they will give a sense of separation between the closely-spaced houses. 


I'll just give you a quick peek at the southeast side of the home, since this is where we store our trash cans (you can see them hidden in back).  Let's move on quickly to the west side of the home and the entrance to the backyard.


This small garden on the west of our home has been my favorite part of the yard for the past few years.  That will probably change as the backyard landscape matures, although my kitchen window overlooks this part of the garden so I will continue to spend time enjoying it each time I do dishes.  As you see above, many small bulb fill the area with color in early spring.




By late spring the perennials fill out, then in June the climbing roses burst into bloom.  Asiatic and Orienpet lilies bloom next in sunset shades, then deep rose daylilies and sedum carry the color through the end of summer.


If you turn around as you reach the gate and look back toward the front, this is the view.  I love how the plants in this shot look billowy and encompassing, which is how I hope the rest of the landscape looks as it matures.


As fall fades into winter, the yellow leaves of the daylilies provide the main color, though the catmint continues to bloom until heavy frost puts everything to sleep for several months.



After you pass through the gate, you enter this little foyer to the backyard.  We completed a major landscaping project in the backyard in 2013, so everything is still filling in back here.  Eventually the shrubs and trees in this part of the garden will grow large enough to block most of the view of the rest of the garden, which should create a sense of mystery that draws you forward to explore.


If you look north from the gate in spring, this is what you'll see.  Columnar 'Green Tower' boxwoods stand as sentinels and 'Royal Raindrops' crab apples (here the blossoms have faded and will soon fall) anchor the northwest corner.  The flagstone path continues around the backyard in a large circle, with spurs leading down the east and west sides of the house.


This is the northwest corner when viewed from the center lawn.  In early 2015 we added a small arbor and bench in the back corner, which makes an excellent spot to watch the bees on the crab apple trees in spring or the hummingbirds and butterflies on the butterfly bushes in summer.


And here is the same view in early fall when the perennials have filled out.  Early evening light makes it especially lovely.

This spring photo reveals the path that curves around the back of the main sunny garden bed in the northwest corner.  

This view changes through the season as flowers come and go.  In June globe alliums and vividly colored perennials burst into bloom.

By the end of summer same view is full of leaves and a few flowers from asters, Russian sage and butterfly bushes.


The northeast corner of the backyard features a swing set for our four kids.  I planted honeysuckle vines on either side that should eventually camouflage it completely.



This bench behind the swing set is a favorite spot to sit and view the garden or watch the kids on the swings.  The 'Shademaster' honey locust trees are slowly growing large enough to provide light shade for the entire corner, and maturing shrubs are starting to create a comfortable sense of enclosure.

Here is another shot of the northeast corner from a different angle.

If you continue walking around the path from the northeast corner toward the south, you come to this view of the area directly east of the house.  The center front of the photo shows my small white garden, while the 'Green Tower' boxwood marks the change to a mauve and chartreuse color scheme farther south.  A white trellis screens the air conditioner and the 'Construction Site', which is what we call an area of bare dirt where the kids like to dig.

This shot gives another view of the southeast corner of the backyard.  With the lilac shrubs blooming in this enclosed space, the fragrance fills the air.

In this view from fall, there are fewer flowers to be seen, but that's fine because I'm tired of deadheading by that time of year anyway.  

A view from the fence looking north toward the main part of the backyard shows many shades of green in August.

This final shot shows the last part of the garden as the path curves around to pass by the patio with its ugly aluminum roof.  I'm not going to share photos of that area until we remodel it in a few years. 
Thanks for coming on this tour of VW garden!  I hope you found some inspiration and will drop by to see the changes as the garden continues to grow.

19 comments:

  1. What a pretty garden.Stylish, but not overdone as can happen in smaller plots. People want to have some of everything and it is important to know when to stop.

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    1. Thanks Hazel! I have consciously limited the number of different materials (except for plants - there are hundreds of different types) I use in the garden to try and keep it cohesive. Using materials from the house to connect with the garden (I matched my boulders to the stone facing on the home and used black metal benches in the garden to match the black metal sconces on the garage) and repeating plants or materials around the garden really helps create order and unity.

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  2. Very lovely and I sense - and remember - all the hours we have both spent in our respective gardens. Your property does now, and will in the future look much larger than the 1/4 acre you wrote of. It is very memorable and you did well in your explanation. I hope to see much more as the months of summer 2015 roll on! My son and family live in Seattle and their lot is less than yours in size but gardened beautifully by my daughter-in-law. I have noticed in my visits that people in Seattle are very creative in landscaping their small lots. There is always something to see.

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    1. Jamie, for those of us without an army of gardeners to help with the ongoing work, a small garden is certainly much more manageable than a large one! Especially when I have planted what my husband calls "the opposite of a low-maintenance landscape." Indeed.

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  3. Very nice! thanks for sharing

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  4. Thank you for sharing. I can hardly wait to get out in my garden. You are so good to share your vast knowledge. Good bugs and gardening this year!

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  5. the garden's looking superb! I love the pastel colour scheme. All the best to you, VW, from catmint.

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  6. I truly admire your work and creativity! I too live in the Spokane Valley and have purchase David Austin climbing roses in the past from Green Thumb. Can you suggest what variety of rose bush I should ask for that is a vase cutting rose as well as one the is at maturity 4' x 4'? Also, I would love to know where your sources to purchase allium and peonies would be. I was introduced to a dark maroon / brown peony variety that I cannot find anywhere in the near vicinity. Mail order is an option, I just am looking for credibility of product and with your success this leads me to ask you!

    I’ve just found you and will be a more avid reader, but without doing my due diligence just yet on your blog, can you tell me what is the best variety of hydrangea is for our area? I have lost three plants within a year of planting from a good landscaping company. Like you, I moved into a new subdivision and got to create my own garden landscape. Looking forward to reading more about your landscape successes and challenges!

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    1. Sandra, good to hear from you! What color of rose do you want? I have many David Austins that do well in a vase and grow in the 3-5' range, depending on how hard you prune them. I have ordered alliums from Van Engelen and John Scheepers (actually the same company but VE sells larger numbers per package) and peonies from Swenson Gardens. Google their names to find their websites. Swenson Gardens has a huge selection of peonies and their bare root plants are a nice size and of good quality, though not cheap. Hydrangeas: pink 'Tiny Tuff Stuff' has done really well for me, as has 'Invincebelle Spirit', 'Anabelle,' 'Little Lime' and larger 'Limelight.' Endless Summer and other reblooming macrophylla hydrangeas do not bloom for me. I think our season is too short.

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  7. Thank you, Thank you for the quick informative response! I am looking for a bright orange and two tone red orange rose bushes. I just drove by Green Thumb and am sensing they are not going to open this year. I appreciate the info on Alliums and Hydrangeas. Will do my research and see what I can find. What do you find is the best location to plant the Hydrangeas if my patio faces north?

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    1. Sandra, I suggest 'Lady Emma Hamilton' for a rosy-orange David Austin rose with an amazing fragrance, but other than that DA doesn't have a lot of bright orange choices. Other breeders have plenty of orange, but I mostly grow DA so that's all I can recommend from personal experience.
      Hydrangeas won't bloom well without at least a few hours of sun but they don't love intense afternoon heat, so plant where they'll get some morning sun. Here in Spokane many of them can handle a full day of sun as long as they aren't right up against a south-facing wall, which traps the heat.

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  8. I am sitting here in the East Bay of San Francisco, being away from my Spokane Valley home for almost four weeks... Been helping family and am longing to return home to see the progress of my garden. Reading your blog has helped me process my thoughts on my interpretation of landscaping a garden.

    Have another question for you: do you compost, as I do to continue the nutritional feeding of the soil?

    One more question: I see you use bark mulch as I have done... The wind is horrendous for us...how about you?

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    1. Sandra, We purchased and spread many, many cubic yards of compost when we landscaped, and I continue to buy a few bags of mushroom compost to spread around the base of my roses each spring. I have such a small yard and have tucked plants into every corner, so I haven't made space for a compost pile. The wind isn't too bad in my neighborhood, so the fine bark works great and seems to keep the worms happy. I do plan to keep adding compost, but I'll probably buy it. I would be proud of myself if I kept my own pile, but I can't do everything and this is one thing I've let go. Thank goodness our neighbors let us fill their green bins when ours is overflowing!

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  9. I had my fingers crossed that your garden would be one of those selected for this years Spokane Home Garden Tour. Have you ever participated in this tour?

    Can you elaborate on what you do to improve your peony and lilac plants? Going forward this year, what do you suggest I do to make them more "lush". Thanks for any and all assistance!

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    1. Being on a garden tour is a dream of mine, and maybe it's a possibility here in little ole Spokane Valley, but the garden really needs a few more years to mature before it would be ready. Last year I gave my lilacs some triple phosphate fertilizer and they bloomed harder than ever this spring, but I've read that phosphate fertilizer can damage the soil microbiology so I have mixed feelings about it. I wouldn't recommend giving lilacs much nitrogen as it seems to encourage lots of suckers. Peonies also bloom better with some phosphate fertilizer, adequate water all summer, and a few years to settle in.

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  10. First of all...beautiful gardens! I stumbled on your blog while researching the "Royal Raindrops" Crabapple I just purchased, but then of course I had to poke around and read a bunch of other posts, too! Lots of useful info on here, so thanks for that. My question actually has nothing to do with your plants. I'm wondering about the swings you have set up for your children. Did you design/build it, or did you purchase it? Our granddaughter is almost 2, and I know she will eventually outgrow the baby swing and want a "real" swingset when she comes to G&G's house, so I have been trying to figure out ways to incorporate play structures into the landscape. I have thought of doing something like you have with 4x4 wood posts, but I like the idea of metal even better. Would you please share with me whatever info you have on the swing structure? Thanks! Jill

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  11. I love the green ground cover you have growing around some of your flagstones. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks, Cathie

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    1. Cathie, the groundcover around the stones in the west garden is 'Elfin' creeping thyme. It stays very short (1"), smells yummy when brushed and produces tiny mauve flowers in June. Like most groundcovers, it just keeps growing so we have to trim it every year or two or it would completely cover the flagstones. I don't know of a groundcover that doesn't do that, actually. I haven't planted thyme around the backyard path because I'm not sure we could keep up with the trimming. So instead we have to pull weeds. I think a flagstone path would be less work if you had the stones places as close together as possible and didn't plant any groundcover in between. You'd have a few weeds but no trimming. Good luck!

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  12. I just came across your blog and watched the transformation of your property over the years. it is absolutely gorgeous and it looks like all your efforts certainly paid off. A few readers mentioned that you should be on a garden tour and I agree...your beautiful property should be one for all to admire!

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