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Gardening: Spokane garden displays last hurrah of season

Sandy Mooney enjoys a few minutes in her art-inspired garden overlooking the Spokane River above Upriver Dam. Her garden won the September Garden of the Month prize. (Pat Munts / The Spokesman-Review)
Sandy Mooney enjoys a few minutes in her art-inspired garden overlooking the Spokane River above Upriver Dam. Her garden won the September Garden of the Month prize. (Pat Munts / The Spokesman-Review)

In the fall garden, time seems to slow down as the plants and the gardeners both take a deep breath after the furiously fast summer season. The temperatures have cooled and plants are putting out new growth to take up the last of the fall sun before settling in for the winter. The colder air and early frosts have begun to color the ornamental grasses and tree leaves with tinges of orange, red, yellow and even purple. The asters and hardy mums are adding blazingly intense shades of purple, yellow and burnt orange. It’s so heady that one should just stop and soak it in. After all, in a few short weeks the garden will take on its mantle of snow and send us all scurrying into warm houses.

Sandy Mooney’s riverside garden near Upriver Dam, is the perfect place to soak up the last hurrah of the garden. She has used her artistic talent as a glass artist to blend together a beautiful collection of plants, pieces of unique garden art and architecture to create the perfect fall garden. Perfect enough to be awarded the September Garden of the Month prize from The Inland Empire Gardeners.

Her front yard is boldly planted with clumps of brilliant purple, low-growing asters, yellow and burnt orange mums, bright red geraniums and clumps of ornamental grasses. The grasses are turning shades of yellow, orange and dusky purple that help cool off the hot colors of the other plants. Here and there Mooney has created some natural garden art by spray painting spent giant allium flower heads a bright blue. These punches of color seem to float over the garden beds adding a unique touch.

In her backyard, she has created several terraces that step down from the back of the house and create several comfortable spaces to view the river.

“The Gonzaga crew team turns around right below us so we heard them every morning as they practice,” Mooney said. “The river also draws in lots of wildlife for us to watch.”

A small water feature and pool are the focus of the terraces and add a bit of gentle water noise that further ties the landscape to the river. Mooney has tried keeping koi in the pond but they only served as a feast for the local raccoons. “Now we keep goldfish, which are cheaper.”

Throughout the garden, Mooney has scattered pieces of garden art that she has picked up around the Northwest. Of note are several pieces of concrete art that depict serene and wise faces that add a meditative note to the garden. She even learned to weld to create some of the other pieces. “I plan to do more of those.”

“I have always tried to blend together the beauty of art and plants for people to enjoy,” said Mooney. To that end, earlier this summer she and her husband Roger threw a blow-out garden party on their back lawn. “It was a great way to celebrate our many friendships and a beautiful garden.”


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