Garden Photo of the Day

Calvin’s garden in Washington state

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Calvin Caley

Happy Monday, everyone! Let’s start off the week gently with this serene scene from Calvin Caley in Sammamish, Washington.

Calvin says, “I have been an amateur gardener for 20+ years but on my current property for 1 1/2 . I have an acre and a quarter of second-growth Pacific Northwest forest, which is adjacent to a wetland and backs up to over three hundred acres of parks and nature preserves. Most of my property, including the naturally-occurring clearing shown in the photo, is restricted to Native Plants Only-but that doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty to look at, useful, and interesting.

In this photo you are looking at a triple-trunked mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) in the foreground, with mostly snowberry (Symphoricarpos alba) and western sword fern, maidenhair fern, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), salal, and evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) in the middle distance. Toward the background is some Alaska cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) and then the border of native forest and the wetland margin. Lower right is a dry streambed that redirects runoff during the Northwest rainy season (January through December) away from the home an into a Zen garden, which changes the surface area of water and slows its flow. Next to the gravel garden is a Douglas fir stump left over from logging in the ’30’s, planted with fern, vine maple (Acer circinatum), salal, and kinikinik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).

The whole composition is held together (and my soil literally held in place) by native mosses and their companion groundcovers, which I cultivate and also carefully transplant from the deeper woods. The area was weeds, debris, leaves, and harsh clay soil before I started…it looked like something from a Tim Burton film.”

Stunning, Calvin. I looks like it’s always been there. **Hey–want to see more of what Calvin can do? Check out his blog, A Thistle in my Sensitive Area (ha!).**

View Comments


  1. user-1020932 02/25/2013

    beautiful! calming and a perfect place to comtemplate, rejuvenate and regenerate. i think it's very difficult to create a realistically natural garden and you nailed it. i had to read the description twice before i caught the rainy season comment! tim burton? i think you just got the Oscar for set decoration

  2. wGardens 02/25/2013

    Wonderful! Looks so much like the area we were fortunate to have when my siblings and I were young- we loved it then, love it now. And I appreciate that you listed plant/tree names. Great diversity, lovely harmony.

  3. bee1nine 02/25/2013

    Your aim to create and respect the natural habitat really
    shows! Considering the rigid restrictions upon you.
    Rugged yet serene! One could lose their thoughts of the out
    side world, here. GREAT job,Calvin!!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/25/2013

    Well, Calvin, it seems like you, Mother Nature, and the "trust us, we know best" regulators (yes, I started reading your blog) are working well together to create a very beautiful space. I love how the mosses are making themselves at home and spreading generously...they are already giving the ground that rich, multi-hued tapestry effect. Thanks for all the plant names. I wish I could walk among things and see them in person.

  5. pattyspencer 02/25/2013

    Calm and soothing to the eyes - I just love it. I think if I could I'd put a pathway to a bench somewhere so I could sit and watch the faries that live there.

  6. pattyspencer 02/25/2013

    Calm and soothing to the eyes - I just love it. I think if I could I'd put a pathway to a bench somewhere so I could sit and watch the faries that live there.

  7. bee1nine 02/25/2013

    pattyspencer,if there were a bench, you and I could sit
    together to watch for faires!!

  8. pattyspencer 02/25/2013

    @bee1nine - I would love that!!

  9. SilkPurseGarden 02/25/2013

    As soon as the roads are clear from yet another Maine blizzard, I'll head to Goodwill for a Mossmaster 3000 (dare I hope to score a Greenburst Thunderspore Mach IV?). Love what you do. Will troll your blog one more time through and make some notes on plant names. Awesome garden, great blog. Thanks for sharing!

  10. tractor1 02/25/2013

    Gorgeous natural woodland composition, my kind of gardening... right click, save... I was going to save it to enlarge, frame, and hang it on my wall but alas, not nearly enough pixels. :-( Calvin, I enjoyed your blog. Send a bunch more pictures. I got the same wagon for my grands, the matching trike too...

    Jilly The Triker Chick:

  11. Caleone 02/25/2013

    Thank you, everyone, for your much-appreciated comments and for visiting my blog (and thank you, Michelle, for using my photo and information on your site, double exclamation points)! I am pretty sure there are fairies out there--my daughter occasionally finds glitter and colored feathers and such in the root-hollows beneath the overhanging bigleaf maples--there are also bobcats, coyotes, lynx, black bears and possibly Sasquatches. You are all quite kind! Best to all, Calvin

  12. Happily_Gardening 02/25/2013

    The picture of where I want to be! Spectacular Calvin! Glitter and colored feathers in nook and crannies, oh my I'm giddy with delight.

  13. passwords 02/26/2013

    What a naturally, beautiful area, Calvin. You done a remarkable job as it looks like it has always been that way. Just like Mother Nature wanted.

  14. cwheat000 02/26/2013

    Sorry I missed your garden on Monday. I really appreciate native woodland gardens. Magical!

  15. siesperanza 03/05/2013

    Thanks for the inspiration. Your garden is helping me along as I work on a new area in my garden.

  16. ankie147 04/20/2019

    This is really very inspiration work with the real nature and plants. remember passwords in microsoft edge Thanks a lot for the activity which you have shown here.

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