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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

An invitation to a North Seattle Garden

Was the subject line of an email from Chava Nessenbaum, better known to readers of this blog as chavliness, who leaves daily comments, bless her heart. We actually met in person  at the Tacoma Yard and Garden Show earlier this year.  Anyway, Chava invited me to see the garden she's made at the home  of her friend Erron Swanson, we settled  on a date and recently I had the pleasure of visiting.  Chava lives in a condo in West Seattle but loves to garden. When her friend, Erron, who she calls "the home owner,"  bought a house in North Seattle in 2006, Chava found a place to make a garden.

When Erron first moved into the home, the front yard looked a lot like this one.

Now, due to Chava's influence, it looks like this.

Because of the distance between their homes, Chava is only able to garden on weekends.  She was kind enough to take off some of her precious gardening time to give me a tour. 

Purple and Gold are a great combination and are also the colors of the nearby University of Washington. 

The dry creek bed is also functional and helps water flow away from the house during the rainy season.

Iris pallida grown to perfection.

Chava is a master of placing objects so that they must be discovered which adds to their enjoyment.  Could be that necessity is the mother of this as Erron doesn't really like all of the "stuff" around so Chava hides them a bit.


 Who wouldn't love walking through this ebullience of color and texture on his way to and from the front door on a daily basis?

The weeping Atlas Cedar will, in just a few years, provide a beautiful blue curtain of privacy from the neighbor's driveway and a nice backdrop for this entire side of the garden.

More purple and gold.  The reiteration of this color combination throughout the front garden creates a gentle rhythm of continuity.  Notice the thyme and red sempervivum  round the iris's feet.

Can you believe that Chava can do all of this in just two days a week?

Just wait, there's even more!  When Erron first moved into the home, this back area had rotting railroad ties going straight across the back and what is now a series of terraces and staircases was an English Laurel jungle.  Erron did all of the hardscape work and made the lovely wood arbor.


This gold spirea with magenta blooms is beautifully paired with Elijah Blue Fescue. 

Purple and gold!  Go Huskies!

Even the shady narrow path between the side of the house and the fence is planted with shade lovers.

With textures and colors like this, who needs flowers?

Another great plant combination idea for shade:  Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' and two Saxifrages.

Notice the two fierce guards flanking the top step!



Everyone should have a neighbor with a wisteria in their garden that is close enough to enjoy but distant enough not to take over one's own garden.

More fabulousness!

Who lives here?  Gnomes?  Fairies? Elves? Micro robots made by Monsanto to take over the world? 

This lady is keeping watch over that door and if something awry, that "lotus" that she's holding can be used as a grenade so  Monsanto robots wouldn't stand a chance.

Napping Gnome.

What a nice view from the house!  After the tour, Chava and Erron had prepared a special lunch which contained one of the best croissants (came from Central Market.)  I'd ever tasted.  Note to self, explore Central Market sometime!

Thank you so much Chava and Erron for inviting me to your gorgeous garden and for such a delightful afternoon!  You go gardeners!

29 comments:

  1. What a fabulous garden she has made, and how lucky that you got invited to see it! That view of the back yard from the house is so much better than a laurel jungle. I'm not a fan of blue fescue (it always reverts to green), but still, why have I never thought of pairing something with blue foliage with my Magic Carpet Spirea? That's an inspired combo. Thanks for sharing your photos.

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    1. It was a pleasure to see Chava and Erron again and to enjoy their beautiful garden!

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  2. Wow, wow and wow again!
    It's a stunning garden. I've pinned the photo of the dry creek bed for future reference, we need something just like it here.

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    1. I agree! That dry creek bed is really well done!

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  3. Wonderful garden of Chava, Peter1
    I loved the most irises and dry creek.

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  4. She's done a fabulous job, gorgeous garden and especially loving the dry creek bed!

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    1. It was a great surprise! Hard to believe that she does all of that in only a couple of days a week!

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  5. Well that was a fun tour,loved it Peter

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  6. Thank you for taking the time, Peter. You display my efforts in a most favorable light.
    We enjoyed having you over. The Royal begonias you gifted me are doing great. I'll report on blooms when they come.

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    1. It was my pleasure, Chava! Thank you so much for the opportunity to see your gorgeous creation. The repast was divine and the company a delight!

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  7. What a perfect partnership. Perhaps there should be a new matchmaking service, putting together gardeners with no property with non-gardening property owners. The happy faces in your last photo could be their calling card.

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  8. Thanks, Peter. Your photography and accompanying dialogue is fantastic. It was a real treat having you tour our garden. I appreciate you taking the time and the very flattering posting. I am indeed very lucky to have Chava's expertise and enthusiasm for gardening manifest itself at my home. Everyday I look out the window and marvel at the beauty. Lucky me! Thanks again. Erron

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    1. Erron, the pleasure was mine. Thank you for allowing me to share the beauty of your garden, for the great company and wonderful lunch! It's really wonderful that Chava has a place to garden and you get to enjoy the results!

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  9. Simply amazing! Kudos to Chava - and lucky Erron!

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  10. On the first day of the Toronto Fling we visited a lady who plants up other peoples gardens with flowers and foliage for her cut stems business. I love the fact a gardener is getting to garden and a homeowner is getting to enjoy their land. A great match!

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    1. This match of gardener and homeowner is a great one! Can't wait to see all of the posts from Toronto!

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  11. It's a marvelous garden and a testimony to the hard work of both Chava and the "home owner." I wish I had the discipline to stick to a more well-defined color palette - it really does tie a garden together.

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    1. Chava has amazing control! We're too addicted to plant shopping to have such good sense.

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  12. I would love to have someone make my yard as beautiful as this one!! Any volunteers?
    Thanks for sharing their creations with the rest of us.

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    1. Take a place in line! What a great arrangement and special friendship. Glad to share such beauty!

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  13. This garden is so well planned and carried out. Wonderful!

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    1. This planning thing is a good lesson for me to learn!

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  14. Looks like a lot of thought has gone into this garden, and it's so tidy for two days a week's work. I would love to see that weeping atlas cedar when it's older.

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  15. Chava has made an amazing garden! It really is gorgeous, and with only 2 days a week worth of attention. It really shows what someone can do when they are motivated and set that time aside. I should show this to my parents. As a Cougar, I shouldn't like purple and gold, but I've never been one to allow pointless rivalries get in the way of appreciating a beautiful garden.

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  16. Just incredible. I love the front garden with all the big grasses. She doesn't use a lot of flowers but the ones she has really pop. Chava means "joy" in Hebrew and her garden is certainly joyous.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.