Garden Photo of the Day

Part 1: Small Space, Big Impact

By: Kim Charles

A fun slice of culvert to plant tender things in. This year I’ll remember to bring them in before the first freeze.

Part 1: Tia Scarce from Edmonds, Washington, updates us on her latest garden that is chock full of colorful objects and beautiful plant combinations.

"My previous garden was featured on GPOD a few years ago, and now that we’ve been in our new place for a bit, I’m thinking it’s looking mature enough to show other people. We downsized dramatically in 2014, losing the lawn and gaining a hillside jewel box with a view of Puget Sound. It’s difficult to photograph much in these cramped spaces—the backyard is only 15 feet deep—so I’ve highlighted some plant combos and objects acquired through the years. My garden club visited recently, and they were very kind with their comments. I hope GPOD readers enjoy it, as well."

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Orbs of all sorts around here.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ice Crystal’, Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’, Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue'

The end of the road with a beautiful borrowed view beyond.

My favorite pot in front of new privacy panels, being consumed by yarrow and salvia 

Garden art inherited from my mom, who loved big birds. A Fatshedera is just starting to grow up through it.

This bed is across the driveway from the privacy panels. My neighbor and I share this space.

Hebe ‘Quicksilver’ and an unknown sedum. 

View from the front step. As you see, I love the hot reds and oranges, cooled with a little purple, gold, and gray. This is pretty much the entirety of the front “yard.” Almost all this is new, including the privacy panels. The larger conifers in back were here, of course, and must be kept at roof height to protect the view. 

View Comments


  1. brian_mazzer 07/07/2017

    Hi Tia. What a beautifully planned garden you've created.I love your garden art and especially like your "borrowed"view of your neighbour's tree. What is it do you know?Gorgeous colour it offers. Thanks for sharing.Brian.
    Hi Frank.

    1. frankgreenhalgh 07/07/2017

      G'day Brian - Great to see your informed comments whilst it is quarter time here in my grandson's 100th club game of Aussie Rules football (under 15). It's a bit cold tonight. Cheers, Frank

    2. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks, Brian. The tree is a gorgeous, mature Japanese maple, but I don't know the cultivar. The neighbor's deck is immediately behind, so this tree has an important job to do.

  2. frankgreenhalgh 07/07/2017

    Hello there Tia (lovely name) - Congratulations on a great effort. Wonderful colour combinations and garden art. Nice table and chair setting and surrounding area. Hope you get time to sit down and enjoy the lovely space you have created. Cheers from Oz

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Hi Frank, and thanks. You mention sitting down--not much sitting happens in the spot shown, and you'll see why on Monday. (cue intriguing music) So, picture walking down the right side of the house and across the back, and then you're in the spot with the umbrella and table. It's a dead end and as far from a door as you can get in this garden. We're talking about what to do in this little area. Thinking about a gas fire table and more comfortable chairs.

  3. jeffgoodearth 07/07/2017

    As expected,,,,,,,,,snazzily beautiful! I wish I had your eye for these combos and textures and just the right amount of gardenart/bling . I covet every leaf and orb .

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      I snort at the idea that I have some sort of eye that you don't. But thank you for the compliment.

  4. Maggieat11 07/07/2017

    Lovely, Tia! For such a small space, I would say you "nailed it"!! Your garden art has made fabulous accents, I especially love the glass sculptures. Inviting sitting area, also! Well done.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      You're very kind, Margaret. Sorry for that leaning umbrella in the sitting area--it's all I see when I look at that photo. That sort of thing drives me crazy! :) All those items are there as placeholders/visualizers. See my response to Frank below regarding our use of and plans for that area.

  5. sithanthialfred 07/07/2017

    Just blown away by each and every corner of your garden.There is a fine sense of balance, the plant collections are not overwhelming the view and they are in striking contrast with the painted artifacts . The big bird is almost showing off like a peacock. Great ideas !

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Oh, Sithanthi, thank you very much. Your praise is gratifying. Gardening is a labor of love for me, and is where all my creativity emerges. That bird has an uplight pointed at it, and in the darkness its shadow is cast upon the house. With the grass-like shapes in front, it appears to be picking its way through a marsh. My mom would have loved it.

  6. Jay_Sifford 07/07/2017

    Hi Tia. I really enjoyed seeing your space. First, you had me at "orbs". Everyone who knows me knows that this is the shape that I'm most drawn to, and that I have many spread throughout my garden. Your stonework with the thyme picking up the hue of the picea is great. Glass art is my thing too! I love how they pull out the new growth on your Flaming Silver pieris (?). Everillo carex with heuchera.... love both. The texture and color of the hebe working off the boulder is sublime. We cannot grow hebe, and it makes me sad.
    I could go on, but I'll stop. Great job, and happy gardening. I would feel at home in your garden.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Jay, I thought of you when I was placing those orbs. I actually had plans to purchase something significant for that spot at the most recent Northwest Flower and Garden Show, but then decided to work with what I have. I mean really, I need to have someone follow me around and slap my hand when I reach for my wallet whilst in an artist's booth. This little garden is definitely at saturation point.

      Too bad about the hebes, by the way! I love all of them. We have pretty good luck with the smaller-leaved cultivars. The bigger ones seem to get knocked down by the occasional PNW deep freeze.

      1. Jay_Sifford 07/07/2017

        My garden is pretty much at the saturation point too. Still, I'm trying to introduce some purple reeds to the light garden because they would really liven up the space in a polite way, as well as interact with the light. It's SO much easier to edit for clients than it is for me! You know, I love minimalistic gardens, and love designing them for other people, but I could never own one for myself.

  7. Coveside 07/07/2017

    Love the urns, and the orbs, and the privacy panel. Nice combos in your panting schemes.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks so much for your kind comments. I knew it was going to be an enjoyable morning here.

  8. janetsydoruk 07/07/2017

    Loved your garden. I've been trying to reply to a few of the gardens but have been unable to.

    1. frankgreenhalgh 07/07/2017

      Worked this morning, Janet.

    2. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thank you, Janet.

  9. anitaberlanga 07/07/2017

    this is a prime example of a BIG impact in a small space. It's absolutely delightful!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Anita, the mild PNW climate has allowed me to make big changes in a short period of time. After a record wet winter, this garden has exploded! Unfortunately, the slug population has, too. Thanks for your comments.

  10. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/07/2017

    Hi,Tia, I've really enjoyed today's Part 1 and it's fun to know that Monday morning will bring another installment. You already sent me off on my first google search of the day...hydrangea quercifolia 'Ice Crystal'...I suspected it was one of the more compact varieties but wasn't familiar with it. I have several of 'Ruby Slipper' which have seemed to live up to their hype. How does 'Ice Crystal' do with fall foliage color? I love your inclusion of the bold oranges and reds in your choices of ornamentation and you balance them out perfectly with the calming purples and grays. You've done a wonderful job with your new spaces...they already look well loved and enjoyed.

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/07/2017

      I, too, was instantly smitten with 'Ice Crystal'. Those leaves truly live up to the moniker 'Oak-Leaved'. My internet search happily confirmed my suspicion that the shape of the leaves is a unique selling point, although some of the photos that turned up weren't all so oakey.....Hoping that was an error. Now, how can I find it and what can I dig up to make room?!

      1. digginWA 07/07/2017

        Sorry to make work for you. :)

      2. User avater
        meander_michaele 07/07/2017

        When it comes to finding a home this fall for what might be your new purchase of 'Ice Crystal', maybe one of your ornamental trees is ready for another round of limbing up...leaving growing room for the new hydrangea underneath. Ha, don't thank me for being a garden enabler...I live to serve those with a similar addiction!

        1. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/07/2017

          Not a bad idea!

        2. sheila_schultz 07/07/2017

          You really are an enabler, Michele, you are sooo bad! How much you wanna bet pruners will be put to use in the Vojt garden this weekend?

    2. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks, Mike, I'd say the fall color is not a significant feature of Ice Crystal. Our climate could be to blame for that, however, I bought it for its more incised leaves and the young branches doing an interesting snake-y thing.

  11. Sunshine111 07/07/2017

    Your garden is stunning! I am not a fan of orange personally but in your garden it is a wow factor. You really know how to combine colors, textures, and objects for the most dramatic effect. It makes me think I need to start all over again in my own garden. Bravo, bravo, bravo!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Oh Lily, I've had the same thought MANY times. Like, every time I go on a garden tour. Actually being able to start over in 2014 was a blast. I brought plants from our previous garden across town and was digging things up here before we even moved in. I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking. Also, thank you!

  12. Sunshine111 07/07/2017

    May I ask you how the privacy panels were constructed, out of what, and how they are anchored into the ground?

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      I could ask the fellow who did it, but I'm fairly certain he used western red cedar with a deep charcoal stain from Behr. They are set in concrete which was a bit of an adventure, as he had to work around boulders set into the ground. Finding the exact spot to dig took some probing. The panels were the most asked-about thing in the garden when my club visited last month.

      1. Sunshine111 07/07/2017

        Thank you!

        1. digginWA 07/07/2017

          You're welcome, and I just want to share one other thing--he steered me away from thinner and more numerous slats in favor of fewer, heavier ones to avoid twisting and warping.

  13. NCYarden 07/07/2017

    This is a very enjoyable garden. What a marvelous space with fun ornamental decor. I am envious of your Hebe. I seem attracted to all of them and yet cannot grow it here. I too am drawn to your reds and striking. And the stonework, my goodness. I guess I could just go on and on. Thank you for sharing your wonderful new garden.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Pity about the hebes in your neck of the woods. They can be used in so many ways, including as superb, soft hedging. I included a photo in Monday's set that explains how lucky we were to inherit the stonework with the house. Someone did a meticulous job of installing it. Thanks for your comments.

  14. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/07/2017

    So great to see your new garden, Tia. Looks awesome. The accents, the plants, the combinations, the privacy panel: loving it. I, too, am envious of that Hebe. I've loved it in photos and have considered trying to grow it in a container. That rusty culvert has me drooling!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Hey there, Tim. I promised a four-year update, and here I am, a full year early! You're welcome!! Haha. I think we're all now searching for discarded culverts everywhere we go. Thanks for your kind words.

  15. chelleisdiggin 07/07/2017

    Beautiful color combos with just enough cool to balance the hot! I appreciate your use of 'found' objects in the garden. I think the sedum may be 'sieboldi'. I have some in my garden and love the bright edging. Looking forward to part 2.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks, Chelle. The sedum has crept over nicely from the neighbor's side. I, too, like that color right there. It's a tough spot--nice to have something happily moving itself around.

  16. VikkiVA 07/07/2017

    Amazing container combinations and genius placement of objects throughout. Your photo of the red pot with the yarrow and salvia is beautiful. Vikki in VA

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks, Vikki. When the movers were bringing pots off the truck, I asked, "How many of those are there, anyway?" I do love big pots.

  17. hontell 07/07/2017

    hey, Tia, what they all said and add me to lovers of your art. I am always amazed at how some people can make a small space large without it being crowded. Beautiful garden!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks a bunch, Howard. I love beautiful, well-crafted things around me and am doing my best to not let it get too cluttered. I think it'd be wise to adopt a one in/one out policy going forward.

  18. cynthiamccain 07/07/2017

    Loved your photos, Tia, especially the container with your mother's big bird. Beautiful!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      My mom loved the big birds and was an avid researcher when something piqued her interest. She had a beautiful collection of art and objects reflecting her interests. This one is extra neat when the landscape lighting illuminates it. I think she'd be happy to see it used this way. Thanks for your comments.

  19. sheila_schultz 07/07/2017

    Oh Tia, I had forgotten you love orange in the garden as much as I! You pull it off brilliantly both in the plants and your art. I'm especially fond of the heuchera with the orange geranium flowers in the last shot, never even thought of that one... it's an awesome combo! Is there a black aeonium between the two?
    I understand the difficulty of photographing gardens in small spaces since our Denver backyard had about the same depth, but you have definitely done justice to your new digs. I'm eager for the 2nd installment on Monday, and I'm w/ Tim, I'm in lust for the rusted culvert pot! That's incredibly awesome!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      So nice to hear your thoughts, Sheila! I'm crazy about those orange geraniums--this year's garden seems so ... me. :) No black aeonium ... you may be seeing the dark geranium foliage. i hope you are enjoying your new adventure!

      1. sheila_schultz 07/07/2017

        You know you have created perfection in the garden for who you are right now when you look at what you've put together and you grin from ear to ear and then your heart smiles!
        I'm looking forward to creating my own, smaller garden down the road, but it will be a while since we are leasing our casita for at least a year. In the meantime, I'm thinking about maybe a container or two . Haha! We're loving our new digs, we're surrounded by a gorgeous jungle of plants and our family. It's perfect!

  20. janisod 07/07/2017

    Yours is a garden that is certainly a favorite of mine. We are moving from PA to DE next week, I'm leaving my garden but thinking about the next one. Your yard inspires me, especially the work around the privacy panel. I'm thinking we may need something as it's a corner lot and am saving your work as inspiration when designing the next area.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      You've given me the ultimate compliment. Sincere thanks!

    2. grannieannie1 07/08/2017

      Will you be anywhere near NewarkDE? That is where we are.

  21. wittyone 07/07/2017

    Your color combinations are just genius level! How nice that you have that shared space beside the driveway. I hope your neighbors are gardeners as well or that they will let you do the landscaping.

    There is space between our lot and our neighbor's driveway and I would love to take over their half. They let volunteer trees take hold and grow up overshadowing really nice smaller trees and peonies which suffer from the lack of sunlight. So sad to see a situation that could be easily rectified and prettified and not be able to do anything about it. Maybe that's good-------I really don't need anymore landscaping to take care of.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      My goodness, thanks, Vi! I have a strong color response and like to use it in a controlled way. The bold colors are up front in the sunniest area, and in the shadier back I'm coming to terms with all the Pink Things that were here when I arrived. More of the back will be shown in Monday's photo set.

      I fully understand the urge to do a little guerrilla gardening. I've been caught weeding the neighbor's yard more than once. I justify it by the fact that I live downhill from them and get all the seeds that blow around and get washed this way. (If anyone wants to weed my yard, they are more than welcome.)

  22. User avater
    treasuresmom 07/07/2017

    Love, love, love your little corner sitting area. Just beautiful!!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks, I'm working on a way to pull us out there. It's far from the door, farther than you might think possible in this small space. We need a lure like a fire table or a napping chaise. I do love that little blue spruce and the way it is hugging the rock. The plants are coming along nicely.

  23. digginWA 07/07/2017

    Thank you! I'm glad you like it--the kitchen window looks out that way and it is my favorite spot in the garden (no coincidence there, right?)

  24. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 07/07/2017

    Good morning, Tia. Love your garden with all of its colorful plants and well placed artwork. The orbs all piled together offset your dark gray privacy fence so well as does that great orange pot. Is your 'Angyo Star' in the ground or coming out of that pot? You seem to have adapted to your new garden beautifully. Can't wait for Part 2.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks for the reminder of that Fatshedera cultivar. I had forgotten it. Planted in the pot, it will need something to adhere to soon, I presume. It's taking off nicely. Have you grown this one?

  25. Meelianthus 07/07/2017

    Hello Tia ~ Lovely photos, beautiful combinations. Your view from the front step is so lush and inviting. It can be difficult to downsize but isn't it rewarding to create so much beauty even in a small space - and your garden art is an extra eye full ! Thanks for sharing your new creativity.

  26. perenniallycrazy 07/07/2017

    Downright beautiful! I so love your garden and garden design.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks, Cherry. I hope you'll stop by one day on your North/South circuit.

  27. user-4691082 07/07/2017

    The salvia and yarrow are spectacular. The glass sculptures are awesome! Tia, you have done a great job!!!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      I look forward to the salvia and yarrow blooming together every summer. And then I enjoy cutting them down!! Ha. Thanks for your kind comments.

  28. greengenes 07/07/2017

    Hi Tia! So good to see your new place! You have created a sweet serene spot. I love the use of your colors! Those flagstone paths are to die for too. So glad you posted!

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Stop by anytime you're on this side of the water, Jeanne.

  29. darylsavage 07/07/2017

    It is a lovely garden. I feel I must put in a link to barberry cultivars not being sterile. I think most people here know that barberry thunbergii. is one of the top ten invasive plants in the country. There are studies that show it changes the nature of the soil to provide a receptive environment for deer ticks to live. I think we would be better off planting dwarf nine bark and others to achieve the color effects of barberry instead of barberry.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      Thanks, Daryl. It's always a good practice to check your state's noxious weed list prior to choosing plants.

  30. user-7007140 07/07/2017

    Tia! What a lovely surprise to see your new garden. At some point we have to downsize too, a fact which, before joining in the GPOD fun,frightened me silly. Now, having viewed so many varied and gorgeous gardens of various sizes I find myself planning instead of nervous.
    Your latest venture is as varied and well designed as past gardens; I love the orbs and glass sculptures set off by the greys, blues and soft greens with the bright pops of color to draw the eye thru and onward. Lovely.
    Best wishes in your new home - glad you have your garden club to visit.

    1. digginWA 07/07/2017

      You're a dear, and I always think of you when my crocosmia bloom. I hope your summer is a floriferous one.

      1. user-7007140 07/08/2017

        How nice of you. We are off to Coleton Fishacre this summer - my dream garden overlooking the south west Devon coast. Last visit they had implemented a whole sunny border to succulents. Magic.

        1. digginWA 07/08/2017

          I looked at photos of it on TripAdvisor. Swoon!

  31. mjensen 07/07/2017

    love it

    1. digginWA 07/08/2017

      Appreciate the comment!

  32. GrannyCC 07/08/2017

    Love it all Tia. just shows what can be done with a small space. Gives hope to us who are feeling we need to downsize! the bonus is the view.

    1. digginWA 07/08/2017

      Small spaces are nice in that they give you something you can easily wrap your brain around. I find the close quarters easy to work with, except I simply must stop bringing home plants and art. Wish me luck.

  33. user-7007940 07/08/2017

    Very beautiful garden. I live in Renton. Gardening in the northwest is fun

    1. digginWA 07/08/2017

      Thank you, Joe. We live in a gardening wonderland, for sure.

  34. grannieannie1 07/08/2017

    Beautiful work! I gravitate toward the hot and primary colors which you've done beautifully. Your stonework is outstanding also. Thank you for sharing it and giving inspiration for smaller gardens to those in our twilight years!

  35. Cenepk10 07/09/2017

    Love the artsy collection & combos. Very very nice !!! Great color sense. Nice artistry !!!!

  36. [email protected] 07/10/2017

    I love Edmonds. You have a superb view from almost anywhere in the town. And your garden is beautiful!

  37. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 07/10/2017

    Thanks for sharing. lovely garden!

  38. user-7007059 07/10/2017

    Hi Tia, thanks for sharing your beautiful garden! I love your hot reds and oranges.

  39. thevioletfern 07/11/2017

    Such fine details of color and texture in all shapes and forms in your garden. It is not small - it has a big and large personality! Love all your stonework, too.

  40. user-6536305 12/29/2017

    Could not belief that your back yard is only 15 ft deep. It looks so spacious. Nice garden and decoration. Thanks for sharing Tia and happy new year!

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