My name is Ginger Shields, and although I’ve been gardening across the United States for 30 years, I’m now in western Washington between Seattle and Mount Rainier, and it’s a whole new world! We moved into our brand-new home in late 2017, with a blank canvas for our backyard. A blank canvas is a wonderful thing for someone who loves colors and paints with flowers. A landscape contractor brought in good soil, the trees, and the bigger rocks to start my design in April 2018. Since then, I’ve added perennials, shrubs, bulbs, and garden art. And a lot more rocks! These are photos from last year.
The backyard is 100x 51 and is designed with a pea gravel “patio” near the house. A dry creek bed starts behind the bubbler and helps take any excessive winter rains away from the house to the back part of the property, which has a French drain. A gravel path goes around the lot, and there are bluestone tumbled stepping stones in other areas to help with access to planting areas. The big perennial bed is on the north side and gets full-day sun.
Some of my favorite plants in my yard include the Shindeshojo Japanese maples (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) in the back. They are a lovely pink-red in the spring. Another favorite is Baptisia. I have four different varieties and find they help give the garden a lot of structure. When I tidy up in early spring, last year’s plants are removed to the ground, and that allows the rhododendrons behind them to shine while blooming.
I’ve found that being part of gardening groups, attending workshops and lectures offered at nearby nurseries (or through Zoom now), having an online subscription to Fine Gardening, and going to the many botanical gardens in the area have all helped me acclimate to gardening in our new home, and I’m becoming a better gardener for it. I can’t wait to see what my garden does this year.
May in the garden, looking across the dry creek bed.
Morning Lilac Itoh hybrid peony (Paeonia ‘Morning Lilac’, Zones 3–8).
Looking from the back of the property in May, with the Shindeshojo Japanese maples in their warm spring color.
The back loop of the path through the garden in June.
Brilliant ‘Fiamma’ lilies (Lilium ‘Fiamma’, Zones 4–8) in June.
Scabiosa (Pincushion flower, Zones 4–8) showing off in June.
The middle bed of the garden in full bloom in June.
In July, Echinacea (Zones 5–9) take center stage in the perennial bed.
Looking across the bubbler water feature to the perennial bed beyond.
September in the garden is still flowery, with blooms mingling with ornamental grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’, Zones 5–9).
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