Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Alyson’s garden in Washington state

From left: 'Black Negligee' cimicifuga, 'Sum and Substance' hosta, 'Golden Spirit' smokebush, Japanese wisteria, 'Beni Ataki' maple, 'Ice Dance' sedge, Bowles' golden sedge (Carex elata 'Aurea'), 'Magic Carpet' spirea. 2 WAYS TO ENLARGE! Click directly on the photo to enlarge in a pop-up, or click HERE to see this image, larger, in a new browser window
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Alyson Ross-Markley

Today’s photos are from Alyson Ross-Markley in Redmond, Washington. Alyson says, “Our shady golden garden room faces east. It is adjacent to the Redmond Reserve (home of black bears, cougars and deer). The garden is situated 4 feet above the reserve, so you get a bit of a tree house effect. It is quite magical.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Alyson Ross-Markley

“Our grandchildren love to travel the pea gravel trail that twists and winds through all the different garden rooms that surround our home. The stone sculpture was created by Luke DeLatour. Six hand blown purple glass gazing globes are nestled in the Bowles’ golden sedges… you see the first one as you enter this favorite garden room.” So shady and cool-looking, Alyson! And I love your textural plant choices.

This is looking down at the same garden, but coming from the south (last year mid-summer), looking down from the deck. (empress tree, ‘Velvet Cloak’ & ‘Royal Purple’ smoke bushes, ‘Ogon’ spirea, (Tropicanna canna barely visible in upper center).
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Alyson Ross-Markley

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  1. joycedaffodilhill 06/19/2012

    Love the garden, but the minute you mentioned grandchildren roaming in garden, you had me completely with you. Our 15 month old grandson loves the garden, just walking he made his way up little hills and to the two ponds in our yard. His little hands can pick up the most minute little things and your yard is just perfect for him. Warning: he loves to pick leaves and flowers.

  2. cwheat000 06/19/2012

    Amazing. I could imagine a kid's imagination running wild back there. The magic is not lost for us big kids either. The pea gravel trails are very nicely done. Your garden is so lush and beautiful without the need for many flowers. If you have the time,please send more pics in the future.

  3. wGardens 06/19/2012

    Lovely! And the garden art in the third photo also captured my attention. And I agree- more photos would be most welcome! Thanks for sharing!

  4. tractor1 06/19/2012

    Alyson's garden sounds wonderful, I wish there were more pictures... where are the purple glass gazing balls? I hope folks are monitoring young children carefully in gardens, many plants are toxic, even just touching some plants can cause serious injury, some plants are covered with microscopic barbs that can transfer from fingers to mouths and eyes. It was frightening reading about a fifteen month old picking up everything and especially exploring ponds.

  5. pattyspencer 06/19/2012

    Magical is right! I would love to wander on that pea gravel as well. Everything is so lush! I think I see faires!!!! Please - more pictures!!!!!!

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/19/2012

    What a gloriously sumptuous Sum and Substance eyes positively feasted on it. The picture in which it is prominently featured is a beautiful tableau as the different plants each have their season to be the star. I'm sure it is enchanting when the wisteria is in bloom.The tower of smooth stones sculpture is just is serene yet intriguingly mysterious.
    And let me add my voice to the chorus of "More pictures, please!" You activated our appetites when you made reference to "different garden rooms"...the plural!

  7. tractor1 06/19/2012

    Okay, I found one purple gazing ball in picture 2... what do I win? LOL

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/19/2012

    Sumptuous! Great sculpture, too! Gazing balls have never been in my repertoire, but now I must have a purple glass one to set in with some golden foliage! Great choice! Do continue to share your other garden rooms, please.

  9. AlysonTheArtist 06/19/2012

    Good morning everyone... so glad you are enjoying the garden!! I am blushing with all your generous words and sweet compliments.

  10. wittyone 06/19/2012

    Beautiful garden----so serene looking.

    Your mention of bears, cougars, and deer took me by surprise. I would have thought that the first two would take care of the third. Here in southern Indiana we are totally overrun with deer so I'm thinking that a nice cougar in the back yard might be a solution to that problem.

  11. Wife_Mother_Gardener 06/19/2012

    Beautiful sculpture! And a very restful garden. Great job, Alyson!

  12. AlysonTheArtist 06/19/2012

    Here is a link to one of the other 'rooms', posted by my friend Karen Chapman in her newsletter 'Garden Adventures - for thumbs of all colors. Here is the link.

  13. AlysonTheArtist 06/19/2012

    Another favorite grandkiddo spot featured in Karen's blog. By the way, the little adventurers are always closely monitored. :) I appreciate your concern, tractor1 and kuddos for spotting finding the purple globe! Wittyone... there seems to be a nice balance out here with the wildlife. There are many lovely walking trails in the forest, and my biggest thrill was coming across a mature Pileated Woodpecker at close range, pecking away at a rotting tree. Seen the deer and cougars. We even had peacocks for awhile (have no idea where they came from).

  14. AlysonTheArtist 06/19/2012

    Thank you 'meander1', the wisteria flowers are wonderful in early Spring... and the fragrance should be bottled!!! Right now the Empress Tree is emerging from the Bowles Golden Sedge, behind the purple globes. She creates a welcome canopy mid summer. Gives this particular garden room even MORE enchantment... Jack and the Beanstalk comes to mind when you are under her looking up at her platter sized leaves!

  15. AlysonTheArtist 06/19/2012

    pattyspencer, glad you could feel the magic!!! I aim for a feeling a of 'being in a Fairy Tale' for the children (and us young at heart adults!).

    joycedaffodilhill... it IS wonderful watching these 'little wonders' taking in nature. At 15 months old, grandkids force you to slow down and REALLY take it all in. After 2+ years the grandkiddos race down the pea gravel path, squealing with delight because they can almost run faster than you! They only stop to find hidden dragons, ring chimes... and pay a toll to the Tiki Man.

    cwheat000, thanks for noticing the emphasis on foliage! I promise will post more photos as the seasons unfold. :)

  16. soilgoil 06/19/2012

    Alyson, your garden is such an inspiration to me! I, too, live in Washington State, well north of you, and my latest project has been developing what I call our "Golden Garden" room on our acreage. It, too, is shaded, and I've used many gold and maroon-colored grasses and shrubs, Japanese maples, dwarf and miniature conifers to add color and light. Unfortunately, hostas, such as the gorgeous ones in your garden, are out of the question here, since we're surrounded by unfenced woodlands and hungry deer. Thank you for showing off your splendid garden; you've motivated me to get back out there and spin some more gold.

  17. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/19/2012

    Hi, Alyson, I followed the link you provided and I was transported to a land of enchantment. It was truly a delightful read and, of course, the pictures you provided of your garden were wonderful. I, too, have a blue theme going on throughout a shaded area with pots, bird feeders and butterflies all of shades of a royal blue so I enjoyed Karen's descriptions of all your fun stuff with extra fervor. I plan on devoting some rainy day time reading through old posts on Karen's blog. Thanks for bringing her to our attention.

  18. AlysonTheArtist 06/19/2012

    meander1: Isn't Karen a delight? We have been friends, gosh, for over 10 years? Interesting side note... she is co-author with the also amazing Christina Salwitz on a fabulous new book on foliage combinations due to be published by St. Lynn’s Press in February 2013. Most of the images (including the cover) will be by award winning photographer Ashley DeLatour (my daughter!). This book will encourage, teach and inspire you whether you need just a plant or two for a container or to redesign an entire garden!! I can't wait. Karen is also on Facebook (see Le Jardinet small business) and she posts regularly... alway a good read!

  19. AlysonTheArtist 06/19/2012

    soilgoil... I feel for you. It's a challenge, those pesky deer. They totally devoured ALL 8 of our Heavenly bamboos when we first moved here.
    Golden shade gardens are divine! Japanese Forest grass is a wonderful gem you should include (if you haven't already!). So far the deer have left them alone. Here is a description from Fine Gardening
    Also Little Honey Hydrangea is WONDERFUL in a shade garden. See a great combination with this (from our garden!) in this link:

  20. AlysonTheArtist 06/19/2012

    Wife_Mother_Gardener: Thank you... my artist son-in-law created this for me. I didn't realize, until after I submitted the photo, that the top piece was missing! Must have been knocked off by a large bird! It's a very special rock, placed vertically. In the center a hole has been created and polished. I could try and take a better picture, with it in place... not sure how to add. It's quite wonderful.

  21. cwheat000 06/19/2012

    Alyson, thanks for the link,the upcoming book info, and all your other info. Once again, it was a pleasure to get a sneak peek at your garden.

  22. annek 06/20/2012

    Beautiful textural plantings. A lovely escape for children and adults alike. What a wonderful way to introduce your grandchildren to the wonders of nature. You'll have an impact on them that will last a lifetime. And I, like others, am awaiting more pictures!

  23. arboretum 06/20/2012

    alyson, the above photos and those of the links and the blue lagoon- make me want to hop a plane to return for the clear air energy of the PNW, where we have visited nurseries and gardens for 20 years. (I hope you have been lucky enough to see Linda Cochran's garden on Bainbridge; i know you would be enraptured by it!)We too have an orientation towards foliage in our arboretum gardens. Hope you'll take a look at us via

    I would soooo like to see more photos of your gardens; can you post a link to a photo account? Thnx for giving my B'day such an inspiring boost!

  24. AlysonTheArtist 06/20/2012

    Thanks Annek. I'll post more photos as I finish tidying each space. We had an extended rainy season this year, so I am a bit behind!

  25. AlysonTheArtist 06/20/2012

    Mindy! I LOVE Linda Cochran's garden... so glad you were able to visit it. One of my FAVORITE garden books I go to for inspiration is "The Abundant Garden: A Celebration of Color, Texture, and Blooms", by Debra Prinzing. It features Linda's garden plus other wonderful Bainbridge gardens.
    Linda also posts photos of her garden in

  26. AlysonTheArtist 06/20/2012

    Mindy... Happy Birthday!!!!! Just checked out your link... love your foliage combinations and inviting garden rooms. Clearly, we are kindred spirits!

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