Is it possible to have a great garden in the least hospitable conditions imaginable? Many would say no. That was the challenge a pair of homeowners on Bainbridge Island, Washington, gave to me and my team: Build a stunning garden at the base of an established forest of maples, cedars, and firs. As a designer, I thought when I first saw the site, “Oh no—the dreaded dry shade.” But I also knew it provided a unique backdrop for what could be a gorgeous space. Through thoughtful preparation of the planting areas, simplification of the plant palette, and a focus on layering, we turned what could have been a nightmare into a lovely garden, against all odds.
The Plan: Tucked away under a forest
What once was a barren understory has become a fun, vibrant garden nestled at the base of a mature woodland.
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