Garden Photo of the Day

Revisiting Alyson’s garden in Washington state

Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Alyson Ross-Markley

Today we’re revisiting Alyson Ross-Markley’s garden in Redmond, Washington. We last visited her garden way back in June of 2012 (refresh your memory HERE).

Today she says, “These are my favorite moments, mostly from last year, of our now 10-year-old garden. The emphasis is always on foliage, and making the most out of narrow side and back garden spaces. Because we are in close proximity to our neighbors, I developed privacy for all of us with the use of vertical elements: sculpture, a grand empress tree (cut to the ground yearly), vine maples, Japanese maples, and evergreen hedges.

“Golden repeats are throughout, which include ‘Golden Spirit’ smoke bush, Bowles’ golden sedge, Japanese forest grass, ‘Golden Rocket’ ligularia, ‘Stoplight’ heuchera, golden bleeding heart, and a ‘Little Honey’ hydrangea.

“There is an exotic aspect with the use of large and unusually shaped and colored foliage, such as ‘Kaleidoscope’ mayapple, ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta, ‘Black Negligee’ actaea, and a variety of ferns. Ferns and vine maples were strategically planted to provide a nice transition from the wonderful protected forest preserve behind us. I also enjoy interesting light effects and shadow play, especially looking from the backside of a large leaf!”.

Gorgeous, Alyson! Keep sending these updates!

——Winter is the perfect time to take a photographic stroll through the photos you took in your garden this year……and then send some in to me at [email protected]!

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  1. user-1020932 01/15/2014

    another great space in the PNW, full/luxuriant and bountiful. a GREAT garden for the grandchildren to explore not sure i could catch a 2 y/o who is determined to run down that path! also checked your previous feature which was before my gpod addiction, beautiful as well. photo updates are always nice to compare the growth and personality changes in the garden.

  2. greengenes 01/15/2014

    Well good morning! I thought for sure I would be the first one to place a comment but tntreeman, you beat me to it! Its 3am here in Washington state and I couldn't sleep so where do I go...well right here! Alyson, I have to say that you have wonderfully created a place of green, texture and contrast! Totally absolutely love what you have done! I love greens and more greens! Infact my business name is greengenes! Its all very clean looking and very lush. Do you have to war after the deer? Do you open your place for any kind of garden tour? Well I guess I will just have to pour myself over your pics here. Thanks so so much for sending these to us all! Oh.. but where is the great gunnera?

  3. user-1020932 01/15/2014

    jeanne, i've been getting up early for so long that now i AM a clock! i didn't know until this morning that you're "in the business" too

  4. greengenes 01/15/2014

    Hi tntreeman, Jeanne here,,yes, I propagate and divide plants to sell to help pay for all the soil amendments in our gardens, plus for the new and exciting plants I find!Happy gardening!

  5. Jay_Sifford 01/15/2014

    Alyson, I love your garden. I've actually used several photos of it for my houzz articles. I'm a big fan of chartreuse foliage in shade gardens, especially when mixed with burgundy.... and large foliage, and lots of texture.... so you can see why I would feel right at home there. I just read the previous piece on your garden. Isn't Karen wonderful?
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. flowerladydi 01/15/2014

    Absolutely Gorgeous Alyson!,,,, Shade gardens are my favorite,,, and yours is truly exquisite!,,,, I too LOVE the use of Chartreuse mixed throughout, it is like a spotlight,,, totally draws attention to everything around it, and if done well, as yours truly is,,,, still soft and gentle and soothing.,,,, Love the meandering paths,,, all your texture, love the rock sculpture and the mayapple is fabulous!!!! Thank you!,,,, truly a lovely lovely garden!

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/15/2014

    Electifying! Your garden has the dense lushness and careful planning of a container planting. Great shots, too.

  8. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/15/2014

    Sigh, Alyson, your garden invites contemplative reveries and peaceful thoughts...just spending time with your pictures is like a relaxing vacation. Sometimes, I like to test myself by not clicking on the link to the previous gpod photos and see if anything looks familiar first. The bell went off with the stacked stone sculpture of smooth river slicks and it's sumptuous sidekick, the 'Sum and Substance' hosta. I'm so glad you have shared today's additional round . This is exceptional photography that really does its subject matter justice. I so love have you have captured sunlight and beautiful.

  9. cwheat000 01/15/2014

    You claim you neighbors are close, but you have done such a fabulous job blurring the property lines, we would never know. Your wonderful garden has the feeling one could get lost in there. I would love to get lost in there. You have chosen some amazing specimens. The only place I have seen that mayapple is the Plant Delights catalog. It is absolutely amazing! I have been looking for a little honey hydrangea. I can't find one here in CT. I ordered a little 4" pot in the mail and killed it. SO NICE!

  10. User avater
    HelloFromMD 01/15/2014

    Beautiful garden and inviting paths. Do you Alyson or GPODers know of a source for 'Kaleidoscope' mayapple. I have wanted one for several years and don't know of any mail order company that offers it.

  11. tractor1 01/15/2014

    So nice to see this garden again, I recognized that stone stack right away. Everything looks so lush and vast, I'd never guess it's a small property close to neighbors, so a grand accomplishment in privatizing. I had to look up the Empress tree, seems it's highly invasive, so now I know why it's cut to the ground each year, to prevent seed production... but does it still flower? I love that stone stack, are they drilled with a rod through or epoxied or both to keep them from toppling? Alyson, thank you for sharing again, please send more photos, and add descriptions, please.

  12. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/15/2014

    HellofromMD: Terra Nova's website says that they don't wholesale supply "kaleidoscope" anymore, whatever that means. Podophyllum delavayi might be a good substitute and is perhaps one of the parents of that hybrid. I also think it is a zone hardier. Keeping It Green mail order nursery offers that species and I'm sure others do as well.

  13. CJgardens 01/15/2014

    Alyson, beautiful gardens. Love all the colorful foliage choices. Such a peaceful place. I can see the "fairytale" that the grandchildren explore and play in. Thanks for sharing.

  14. GrannyMay 01/15/2014

    Love it! Love it! Love it! Great photography! Amazing use of greens and textures to create such an enticing and enchanting space!! Thanks Alyson!

  15. GrannyCC 01/15/2014

    Such lovely foliage. Just goes to show how many shades of green there are. Love all the meandering paths with mystery around each corner. You have created a beautiful garden with lots of privacy.

  16. annek 01/15/2014

    The golds in your gardens are amazing. Instead of a yellow brick road, you've created a yellow-edged path that beckons one to follow it to its end. You've displayed an artistry and creativeness with plant texture, color and foliage that I'm sure many will want to try to emulate. At least I do! Thanks

  17. AnneinQC 01/15/2014

    Amazing, love your use of contrasting foliage. your narrow gravel path is really great and I am very interested in how you plant the narrow areas close to neighbours as I have the same problem. looks like you plant pretty densely even in a close area ...

  18. jagardener 01/15/2014

    I am green with envy.

  19. AlysonTheArtist 01/15/2014

    Thank you everyone for the thoughtful comments! The Mayapple and Little Honey are from Karen Chapman (yes Jay_Sifford, she IS wonderful... and a dear friend!). I have see Little Honey Hydrangea at Molbaks. HelloFromMD, Mayapple 'Kaleidascope' is almost impossible to find! Ours is from Karen's old Kirkland garden. It needed a shade, so when they moved to their big sunny property in Duvall, she gave her treasured Mayapple to me (how lucky am I???). Check Swanson's Nursery in Seattle.

  20. AlysonTheArtist 01/15/2014

    greengenes, initially the deer were a problem, but not now. Combination of not planting things they like, and more difficult for them to enter now.

  21. AlysonTheArtist 01/15/2014

    tractor1, the Empress tree doesn't return up until early mid-summer, usually with 3-4 sprouts. I lets them grow to about 2 feet, chose one and cut down the others. That how I get the gigantic leaves. If I wanted it to flower, I would need to let it grow to full size (to 100 feet), and the leaves would be a fraction of the size. I am choosing leaf size over flowers (would need to let the tress mature... grows to 100 feet tall). By Autumn, our tree reaches about 20 feet. Totally manageable. The trunk is fairly thin skinned and hollow, so I easily use my own hands to bring it down in sections. Bend and pop!

  22. tractor1 01/15/2014

    AlysonTheArtist: Thank you for the explanation regarding the Empress Tree, very interesting.

  23. joycedaffodilhill 01/15/2014

    Wonderful choice of plants and locations. In Phila the Empress tree seed pods were used in the hold of the ships bring supplies and items to Phila. The seeds are light weight and blew all over the city. Now the streets are lined in the spring with the beautiful blooms of the plants from where they began to grow. The pale color which we can see from the trains as we go to town is beautiful. Have tried x 2 to get one to grow with zero response. As a child we dug mayapple for the root, sold the root after it dried at the local general store, still a great plant and some hybrids are remarkable.

    Tell all about the stone sculpture. Wonderful the way it rises from the flower bed almost looking like a flower head rising to the sun. Good job, gardener.

  24. janetsfolly 01/15/2014

    I learned A LOT today! Really enjoyed the photos and your sense of light play, Alyson. I'm still puzzling over that stone cairn, though... I must try it, I guess!

  25. perenniallycrazy 01/16/2014

    Simply outstanding Alyson! Your garden path is so attractive and as I walk on it through it in Michelle's blog, I'm simply enchanted and don't want to leave. Thanks for sharing and hope you will share more photos in the future.

  26. MizScarlet 01/16/2014

    I love the dense lushness of your garden. Thanks for sharing.

  27. AlysonTheArtist 01/18/2014

    greengenes : Next time I promise to include photos of the great Gunnera... or as the grandkids call it "dinosaur food". Funny story... last summer our 5 year old granddaughter Lilly came running to me, in hysterics, claiming that a DINOSAUR had taken a BIG bite from the plant. Indeed, there was a big 'bite size' chunk missing. This did not stop her from continuing down the pathway. I could tell she was keeping an eye out for that pesky dinosaur as she made her way through. ;) Also!!! I am incorporating a mosaic stone circle design in the pathway of the golden garden section... excited for this project!

  28. GardenSmiles 02/08/2014

    Alyson, Absolutely GORGEOUS! Love the shades of green!

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