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.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Olympia Garden of Marilyn McNeil and Tom Bristow

"Our garden is designed to unwind, look and listen to nature, and entertain family and friends.   This work in progress includes a tropical area, a tranquil woodland area with Japanese maples and shade loving shrubs and perennials; a sunny Mediterranean room with an Italian fountain and pergola; and small cutting and vegetable gardens. "

Look at that perfect lawn!  Tom told me that I should ask what variety of grass it was as it was so beautiful.  Before asking, I felt it and discovered that it's artificial. How cool is that?  No water or mowing needed.

To the right of the house a miscanthus bordered path leads the back garden.  It's hard to tell in this picture but there are sedum at the feet of the grass and the textural contrast was lovely.  The sedum will bloom adding color to the mix and in the winter the brown grass will sway in the wind while the brown and dry sedum seed heads will add punctuation. 

A clematis-covered arbor entices us further. 

Looking back.

More of that special variety of grass.  There are towering fir trees behind all of that gorgeous foliage.  I wonder if it's difficult to keep the lawn free of debris.

Looking left.
 Further along the path. 

Closer to the fountain with the pergola in the background. 

Look at that great combination of Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey' and Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace."  Tall oriental lilies in bud above will add even more color and divine scent.

 We've arrived at the pergola which looks very inviting!
"The garden features extensive hardscaping of stamped and colored concrete.  seven distinct sitting areas range from a private niche for two, to areas that accommodate much larger gatherings."  To entice visitors to relax and stay awhile, seating areas sport comfortable chairs, outdoor rugs, and a wireless sound system. Since the pergola gets hot afternoon sun, an electric screen can be lowered to create shade without blocking the view."

Looking back.  Notice the elevation of the house on the right - it's higher than it looks. 

Up one level from the pergola/fountain area.

Up another level to the new deck. 

Looking down from the  deck  we saw a couple of pictures ago. 

"Our garden is an example of how significant elevation changes between the house and the yard can offer unique design opportunities."

Back down the steps at the other side of the deck to the nandina and hosta bed we saw when we entered the garden.

Thank you so much Marilyn and Tom for opening your garden for us to enjoy!


  1. The symmetry in this garden is really lovely and rare to see so much of it and so well done. I love that grass square with the stone edge and gravel. And that pair of benches opposite each other. The purple/yellow foliage combinations are show-stopping. It must be quite a sight when those lilies bloom.

  2. What a beautiful garden. Fake turf is becoming more and more popular here. Especially in places where its hard to grow grass. With our hot dry summers I can see what attracts homeowners. We have a spot the dogs like to roughhouse where we can't keep grass alive at all. I will admit, fake turf has been mentioned to save us in dog baths.

  3. That large swath of Miscanthus is impressive. I like the Clematis by the gate too, and all the black containers. I very much enjoyed the flower closeups.

  4. Another gorgeous garden. I still can't warm up to artificial grass, though. That huge swath of Miscanthus is so much prettier.

  5. That turf certainly looks realistic. Maybe they leaf-blow it every day (or when guests are due) or hose it down like Italian shopkeepers do their storefront sidewalks. :)

  6. A very well designed garden, just beautiful!

  7. A lovely garden with lots of interesting colour shapes and textures. I think the grass will need hoovering regularly!

  8. To keep the "lawn" free of debris one just need to bring out the hoover, no?
    I really like how you described the miscanthus bordered with the sedum planted in front of it. A good garden design should try and incorporate an all season display.
    And when will my black mondo grass look so nice and full? Sigh.

  9. Hello there Peter : )
    Thanks for stopping by .. I have been terrible at visiting other blogs, lack of drive and energy but some how I managed a post today !
    And .. here I am smiling at your post on this amazing garden(s) .. I had a great giggle over the fake grass. I think that is GREAT ! It doesn't look fake and with all the gardens that they have to look after, they should have something that is "nothing" to look after, except maybe some debris ? haha
    This is a lovely and very interesting garden. Thank you for the tour !!

  10. I like the symmetry along with the lush plantings.

  11. Love the Gunnera border next to the "lawn" rectangle...

  12. Really like the big drift of Miscanthus bordering the path. But artificial turf? No thanks.


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