Following cottage garden traditions, we call our home and garden The Caffeinated Gopher. The moniker comes from the fact that my wife and I tend to dig more dirt in a season than a pair of caffeinated gophers.
The garden is mostly the work of my wife, Laura. As you mentioned she works for Molbak's. She is a Certified Professional Horticulturalist. My role is periodic manual labor and design input. If you must use one of our names, by rights it should be called Laura's garden.
Our garden, like all gardens, is a work in progress. Each year we tweak and adjust. This season we took advantage of the city removing the tree and leaving a manufactured snag to open up the area along the southeast corner of the garden. We've added some new trails through the heart of the Southern border and limbed up an number of the evergreens so that we can bring in some more perennials and deciduous ornamentals. Read More >>
This is the 8th year we've been at the garden. When we arrived it had good bones but a very narrow bloom window and almost no garden architecture or perennials. For the past 8 seasons we have been slowly transforming the landscape.
We use a few simple design ideas to create the structure of the beds. The garden is designed for 4 season interest. The bloom season is spread throughout the year and foilage, form and bark are equally important. We have very few annuals in our garden. Instead we prefer to maximize our investment using perennials. 'We tend to shy away from the orangish-reds and sulfur yellows. Pinks, corals, blues, purples and soft yellows are more common. We also tend to use families of plants rather than simply planting multiples of single plants. So for example, we have a collection of beardless irises. I prefer the foilage of beardless varieties over the broad fans of the more traditional bearded varieties. Siberian iris, Japanese iris, PCH iris and some species dot the garden. The similar foilage and bloom shape provides unity and the variety of different species extends the bloom time and adds interest. We also use related species like Sea Hollies (Eryngiums) and Globe Thistles (Echinops). The spiky blue and white foilage and blooms links them together without the monotony of one variety being repeated.
We don't have quite as much architectural structure as we would like yet. This summer we intend to bring in more rustic structures made from the salvaged water sprouts from our two older apple trees. In particular we would like to give our collection of larger roses some more support.
Thanks for all of the kind comments that we received from the neighborhood. It is a labor of love and our way of trying to give something back to the place we love.
By Abbott Smith
a neighborhood garden on NE 104th Street near Avondale Rd. (near 184th Ave NE).
June 12, 2012
"We finished the arbor and added a new trellis beside it. We also added a sun dial to the border. If you liked the arbor before you should look at it now. It has all of the decorative branch work complete and 3 spires. The new trellis is over ten feet tall and behind the rose to the right of the arbor."
- Abbott, 8/4/12
My IPhone photo doesn't do justice to the beauty of this garden. Driving down 104th late July I saw Abbott and Laura sitting in the garden painting or sketching. I've asked Abbott for a sample. BY