July 12, 2014 in Washington Voices

Gardening: Great garden started with logging project

Pat Munts
 
PAT MUNTS photo

Brian and Lori Scott sit amongst the Japanese maples in their front yard enjoying the fruits of their labor and winning the Garden of the Month Award.
(Full-size photo)

When Lori and Brian Scott bought their South Hill home they inherited a forest of pine trees and little else for a yard.

The pines blocked any sun from reaching the ground and the tree roots used up the available water such that nothing else would grow. “It was a train wreck to say the least,” said Brian Scott.

They chose to remove the pines from both the front and back yards. Many of the trees in the front were diseased and damaged and threatened their house and the neighbors.

“One tree they took down was being held together with a single strip of wood and bark and literally collapsed in pieces when it was cut,” Lori Scott said. “The neighbors weren’t too happy with the trees being removed.”

After the trees were cleared they were left with a couple of dozen stumps that for one reason or another couldn’t be chipped down. “So we make a silk purse out of sow’s ear,” laughed Brian.

Silk purse indeed. Their efforts over the past seven years were good enough for them to win the Garden of the Month Award for June from the Inland Empire Garden Club. The judges were impressed with the variety of outdoor living spaces and different plantings that attract birds, butterflies and honeybees from Lori’s hive.

The Scotts started in the backyard by punching out the bottom of an old in-ground hot tub and building a deck for a table and sitting area over it. The old gas line was repurposed to feed a gas fire pit. They replanted much of the original basalt rock wall with some of Brian’s grandmother’s flowers and flowers that attracted birds, butterflies and pollinators. The entire time I sat on their patio several hummingbirds were squabbling over the feeder right over my head. In shady areas along the wall, they trained variegated lamium which lit up the dark space. Stumps left over from the “logging” were incorporated into island planting beds to serve as stands for pots of annuals.

In the front yard, the 13 leftover stumps drove the design of their beds. They built several raised beds enclosed by decorative blocks around clumps of stumps and planted them with some very nice purple and green-leafed, weeping lace leaf Japanese maples. To offset the delicate leaf texture of the maples they planted bold perennials like daylily, blue salvia, liatris and coneflower. Some of the stumps now serve as pedestals for containers of petunias and geraniums. In the center bed, they installed a basalt column fountain that provides some quiet water noise and a drink for the birds. Against the front of the house, Brian planted peonies salvaged from his grandmother’s garden. “My mother and grandmother taught me to appreciate the beauty of gardens and I tried to recreate that here,” Brian said.

When they got all done with the project, the neighbors forgave them for cutting down the trees and told them how nice the yard looks and how much it improves the neighborhood.

Pat Munts has gardened in Spokane Valley for more than 35 years. She can be reached at pat@inlandnwgardening.com.


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