Design

Tour a Garden That Overflows With Plants and Color

One peak, four seasons of interest

Video by Danielle Sherry, Edited by Kara Demos

Most of us want our gardens to look fabulous all the time, no matter the season. That’s great if you are willing to put in the time and money required to make it that way. Yes, it’s certainly possible to have a garden that looks like it’s at its peak in spring, summer, fall, and even winter—especially if your garden is large enough to accommodate the amount of plants needed to make that happen. But let’s be honest—getting the garden to shine all the time takes a lot of effort. You’d need to plant an evergreen framework for the background, then add spring-blooming bulbs, early-blossoming shrubs and ephemerals, summer stars, and fall standouts. It sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Of course, as these scores of plants die back, go out of bloom, or get too big for their allotted spots, they need to be pinched, pruned, divided, cut down, and perhaps hauled away. This carefully constructed symphony takes considerable knowledge, skill, sweat, and space to pull off. Many gardeners might enjoy a certain amount of work outside but, understandably, might not have the time to spend the hours upon hours necessary to make a garden that is at peak performance in every season. For those folks, designing a garden that peaks during a specific window of time might be the answer to easily getting a landscape that looks good most of the year.

Garden designer Sharon Nyenhuis is a master at designing for one peak. The landscapes that she plans, plants, and maintains in the Pacific Northwest are a perfect example of spaces that look magnificent during a six-to-eight-week window and then age gracefully into a more subdued—yet still compelling—sight as the months pass. Perhaps the best example of this approach to design can be found in the backyard of Beth and Cappy Rothman and their garden that sits at the foot of Olympic National Park. This private landscape, designed by Sharon, makes the surrounding scenery of the gorgeous mountains and Pacific Ocean play second fiddle. Tour the garden to see just how designing for one peak can result in a truly magical space.

The landscape was planned, planted, and maintained by garden designer Sharon Nyenhuis whose work has been featured in the pages of Fine Gardening numerous times. Sharon’s challenge for this particular garden was designing it to have ONE peak. Now, that might seem like a bad idea. But designing for one peak doesn’t mean that the landscape only looks good in one season—it just means you choose plants that put on their best show during the same 6 to 8 week period of time.
The landscape was planned, planted, and maintained by garden designer Sharon Nyenhuis, whose work has been featured in the pages of Fine Gardening numerous times. Sharon’s challenge for this particular garden was designing it to have a single peak. That might seem like a bad idea. But designing for one peak doesn’t mean that the landscape only looks good in one season; it just means you choose plants that put on their best show during the same six-to-eight-week period of time. Photo: Bruce Nyenhuis
This garden is in the Pacific Northwest, so a midsummer peak—when the rains have passed and the temperatures have warmed up—was ideal. The plants Sharon chose did not all bloom during the peak, but most of did. Some of her favorites were 'Border Jewel' Himalayan knotweed, the annual diascia, and an assortment of roses, Asiatic lilies, and perennial geraniums.
This garden is in the Pacific Northwest, so a midsummer peak—after the rains had passed and the temperatures had warmed up—was ideal. The plants Sharon chose did not all bloom during the peak, but most did. Some of her favorites were ‘Border Jewel’ Himalayan knotweed, the annual diascia, and an assortment of roses, Asiatic lilies, and perennial geraniums.
The garden consists of a series of bermed island beds, that all come together in a labyrinth –like layout. Between each bed are concentric gravel paths that crunch underfoot. The grey color of the stone presents the perfect stage for an array of colorful plants to spill softly into the walkways.
The garden consists of a series of bermed island beds that all come together in a labyrinth-like layout. Between each bed are concentric gravel paths that crunch underfoot. The gray color of the stone presents the perfect stage for an array of colorful plants to spill softly into the walkways. Photo: Bruce Nyenhuis

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  1. galvined 07/20/2021

    The annual diascia and an assortment of roses and Asiatic lilies and perennial geraniums!

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