"Everything in this garden has a bloom or fragrance, or both," says Gloria Kasonic of her new, rose-rich garden. She and her husband, John, built their Bellevue home, designed by architect Peter Swindley, three years ago...
“Everything in this garden has a bloom or fragrance, or both,” says Gloria Kasonic of her new, rose-rich garden. She and her husband, John, built their Bellevue home, designed by architect Peter Swindley, three years ago. They left a shady Mercer Island garden, where Kasonic grew only a few flowers in pots. After the destruction of construction, Kasonic was faced with a blank slate of a full-sun garden, an expanse of dirt just waiting for her to plant.
Kasonic was an experienced enough gardener to know she needed hardscape to contain all the flowers she had in mind. So she hired designer Phil Wood to shape and structure the garden with concrete and stone. He faced two major challenges:
First, the garden must look as attractive from above as at eye level because the main-floor deck off the living and dining room hangs out over the garden. The Kasonics look down onto their garden more often than they walk out into it.
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Second, the freshly constructed space was bare and flat, yet Wood had to refrain from the obvious solution of planting trees that grow quickly and large. In this neighborhood of views, the rule is that trees must be kept below the roofline of the house. Yet the new garden badly needed height and girth, as well as paving and color.
Wood came up with a design that works as the garden’s navigation system and is sufficiently strong in visual patterning to hold its own when viewed from above. Wide stone pathways radiate out from a stamped concrete circle like spokes of a wheel. The circle creates an open center to the fragrant, lively garden, a quiet spot to sit on the curved stone bench and enjoy the flowers. In the evening, the gas firepit in the center is the draw. The profusion of foliage looks its best outlined by the hard edges of stone pathways, and the paths provide a clean, dry surface for Kasonic to wander as she clips and gathers flowers for arrangements.
Wood was careful in selecting trees to avoid creating a future pruning nightmare. Neither the Kasonics’ nor their neighbors’ views of the Seattle skyline will be blocked by delicate Japanese styrax ‘Pink Chimes’ or pointed little spikes of Monterey cypress. Arbors and columns draped in roses like the apricot climber ‘Polka’ and the fragrant, vigorous pink ‘Compassion’ add near-instant height. Magnolia grandiflora, strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo), Japanese maples and dogwoods are growing in, but not up over the roof of the two-story home. Wood used hefty evergreen shrubs like ceanothus and cistus for screening around the perimeter of the property.
Rock Solid Landscapes installed the plants and now maintain the garden. “They know what all these perennials are . . . and there’s so much trimming back,” says Kasonic. And how did she go about choosing the wide variety of roses? “I began with my favorite peaches, but then I got a little off track,” she says happily of all the deeply ruffled and variously colored roses scrambling over the ground and cascading off pillars and arbors. The roses are underplanted in a blue and silver medley of catmint, lavender and lamb’s ears.
Now Kasonic luxuriates in a garden sunny enough to grow lilacs, hebes, asters, coneflowers, yarrow, daylilies, lavender and phlox. Such a bounty of flowers has inspired Kasonic to take up flower arranging so full-tilt she’s devoted an entire pantry to shelves of vases, just waiting for all the flowers that flourish through the seasons in her new, sunny garden.
Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer and author of “A Pattern Garden.” Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Mike Siegel is a Seattle Times staff photographer.