By Alexandra Dittrich

Jennifer doesn't let her small space limit her from adding in plants she loves. The more the merrier!

"Where most people looked with alarm at the tiny, uninteresting- 3000 sq. ft. back yard of the home we had just purchased near Seattle WA, I saw lush foliage, serendipitous paths and garden rooms! They just couldn't "see" it yet. I wasn't worried...

We moved into our home in September, 11 years ago. As soon as the weather cooled down, we covered every square inch of the grass strip with newspaper and cardboard.
I spent the winter with all my old Fine Gardening magazines open—dreaming and sketching. My husband, the garden workhorse but not the visionary, stood by awaiting instruction at the first signs of spring (what a guy)!

We began creating the bones of the garden. Our budget was small, my dreams were big!  For the paths we splurged on some flagstone but mostly we used the dull side of free recycled granite. We made a small circular patio in one of the "garden rooms."  We got a few inexpensive trellises and an arbor bench and we found a zen like fountain on clearance at the local Fred Meyer. We raised up some beds in various places along the garden paths. We had many yards of lush garden soil and compost delivered and my (then) teenage children hauled it begrudgingly from the front to the back for days!

Then the planting began! First I planted the things I moved from our old home in pots. Next I began perusing Craigslist for free plants and shrubs. I got a lot of what has become the foundation of my garden this way.  My favorite story is the free you-dig ancient Japanese Maple we found on Craigslist—and dig we did, for hours! Please know I do NOT recommend this!!!  But we ended up pulling it out of the ground with our car and a tow rope. It should not have survived, but it did—and thrived nonetheless. It has become my delight and the focal point of my shade garden!

If the truth be told I went hog-wild and planted WAY too many plants. The problem being, I've rarely met a plant I didn't like! And of course I've run out of space, so now 40 pots are nestled among the jungle like foliage! Even in Seattle, a girl must have tropicals that her husband has to help her hoist into the garage each fall.  Plant lust is a real thing.
My garden is lush and crazy, in the summer it smells of mints and phloxes. Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies flit from flower to flower. The Italian plum tree is laden with fruit. The fountain gurgles. Many  of my beloved trees have outgrown their space and my husband says we need to do some chopping.  Yippee, now I can plant something else! I'm not worried... My name is Jennifer MacDonald and my garden is in Bothell, a suburb of Seattle WA. I've been told my garden zone is 7b."

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