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.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Garden of Jacqueline and Lawrence Houston

It's always exciting to see the "New" icon next to a garden in the Northwest Perennial Alliance Open Gardens book which means that this garden hasn't been open before.  That icon appeared after the listing for the garden of Jacqueline and Lawrence Houston so I had to check it out.

"I garden on the edge of a ravine in Maple Leaf, on three different levels.  The main level in the back yard is a romantic English-style garden full of old fashioned once-flowering roses and mixed perennials.  The lower level is a drought-tolerant foliage-based garden that ends in a rustic gazebo, and is an ongoing experiment to see how much color I can incorporate without having to water.  The front yard is a cheerful cottage garden of mixed shrubs and perennials.  I am incorporating more bird-friendly plantings every year."

The signs posted outside the fence had me puzzled until I learned that Jacqueline runs a preschool/daycare here where the kids are outside every day.  Can you imagine being a child exploring this magical space? 

The front entrance was so enticing but the sign asked that we enter through the drive on the left which leads to the middle level garden.

It was thrilling to see a white bucket left within sight.  

As the driveway descended, the fragrance of roses and the sight of lush growth made my heart skip a beat. 

So many paths - which one to explore first? 

Bottle-edged bed.  A couple of weekends ago, I decided to try this but, unlike my classy friend, Alison, who asked her friends to save bottles for her, I went dumpster diving in the glass recycling bins around the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, I didn't like my result  in the bed I'd dug so I now have a ton of bottles and also a crystal vase that someone threw into the recycling. I'm still determined to do this somewhere one of these days.

Now we  descend further into the drought-tolerant lower garden  which is backed by towering old trees.

Down there, see. 

The path winds around.

Straightening out a bit. 

And leads to the rustic gazebo. 

Looking back from the gazebo.

From inside the gazebo looking back up the hill.   There are all kinds of  playthings for the kids inside and a small fenced area to the left for rainy days.

Back up the hill. 

We're back in the romantic garden. 

I don't know if we were supposed to explore this cool tree-house feeling deck but I did. 

To the left of the "tree house" is this slide.  The kids must love playing in this delightful garden!

Looking down from the deck on the middle-level romantic garden.  

Back up the other side to the top garden.

Oh my, this was worth saving for last and kept the traffic flow working well. 

Love the silvery foliage and deep purple flowers of this Buddleia/Buddleja.

A friend and nursery shopping companion of Jacqueline was up on this level and showed us some pictures of the garden before all of this.  I recognized a fellow plant addict  and asked about her favorite area nurseries. 

One last look before we hit the road to explore those nurseries. 
I loved the exuberance and lived-in feel of this garden.  It's a place for people of all ages to find magic and blooms, lots of blooms.   Thank you so much Jacqueline and Lawrence for opening your gorgeous garden for us to enjoy!


  1. Wonderful garden, Peter. I loved Bottle-edged bed, and am sure your Bottle-bed is ready to be shown, isn't it?
    I also liked the gazebo hidden in the trees, nice!

  2. How wonderful that she shares this garden with kids! (so did you learn of any new nurseries?)

  3. I predict a lot of those kids in the future are going to point to this garden as inspiration for their own. I would love to explore it too, so much to discover.

  4. Oh, I am so bummed that I missed seeing this garden in the exhausting aftermath of our house painting. It looks and sounds like a garden after my own heart. I'm in the middle of trying to do some of the same things with some of my beds -- trying to incorporate as much flower color as possible while still being drought tolerant. I'm agog at how even and straight her bottle edge is, that is not easy to achieve. The one edge that I tried with bottles topside down like that is in a back corner where I hope people might seldom venture, if I ever open my garden. It's "as crooked as a dog's hind leg," as Nigel likes to say.

  5. What an experience for kids to hang out there. Love the bottle edge. I've seen bottle trees but this was a new use to me.

  6. Oh my! This tour made me want to go to pre-school! If I was enrolled as a kid, I expect I'd have been kicking and screaming about leaving with my parents at the end of the day.

  7. Wonderfully lush and romantic. Kids who visit that lovely a garden may turn out to be gardeners themselves--the magic of the place is an inspiration.

    The black-foliaged small tree in photo 4 and 5 (and several others), is that Sambucus 'Black Lace'? Always wanted that plant.

    1. Yes, that's the tree. They're really wonderful plants!

  8. Oh, wow! Exuberant is right! I'm sorry I missed this garden. I'll have to mark it in the Open Garden book for future visits. It's wonderful.

  9. I was glad to read that the childrens area was fenced. A person could get lost in there, especially a small person. Exuberant is the word. Exciting too. So many plants. I couldn't hardly see it all. I will have to go through the photos again.

  10. The space feel huge for a city garden and what a jungle for kids to explore. The owners must spend a lot of time tending it! ;)

  11. Magical! I want that tree house!

  12. That garden seemed humongous! Everything seemed so lush, it must seem like a jumgle to the little kids. We had a bottle edge at one of our old houses. I loved it there and love it here. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I love hidden paths which take you on a journey. Fab garden!


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