Sometimes good things happen when trees come crashing down in a garden. Such is the case for Russ and Sara Weaver-Lundberg. Once the three large pine trees brought down in the November 2015 windstorm were removed, they realized they had a clean slate for a garden remodel.
And remodel they did, creating a beautiful, formal but whimsical garden overlooking the South Perry District on Spokane’s South Hill. Their efforts won them the July Garden of the Month Award from the Inland Empire Gardeners. This was the first time in the 20-year history of the contest that the judges scored a garden with perfect 10s in all the judging categories.
The Weaver-Lundbergs are both Spokane natives, and Russ used to regularly walk past the 1926 Tudor-style Anderson house on his way up and down the Perry Street stairs. With the help of landscape architect Jason Helm of Aspen Falls Landscape Architecture, they began creating a formal garden that would set off the house and celebrate their late daughter Isabelle.
The garden entrance features formal hardscaping with trailing threads of green ground cover running through it. A series of stone sunflowers are set into the hardscape creating a playful introduction to the garden as you walk through a stone gate into the backyard. Before you are beautiful formal beds filled with perennials and roses set off by formal boxwood hedges. In the center of the garden is a sunken seating area with a waterfall pool. On one of the terraces is an original fountain from the garden’s earlier life. At the back of the garden is a swimming pool that keeps the kids busy in the summer. Hidden to the side of the pool is their “secret garden,” a quiet place they come to sit in the shade of the trees surrounded by beds of shade-loving plants. “We built it as a place to remember our daughter,” said Sara.
Roses and hydrangeas are the predominant plants in the garden. Russ’ mother loved roses while Sara grew to love hydrangeas after spending a few years in North Carolina. “When we were planning the garden, I searched for a rose named Isabelle in honor of our daughter but couldn’t find one available commercially,” said Sara. That is until they found a company in Europe that had one in a garden in Oregon. On hearing their story, the company took cuttings of the rose and propagated it for them. Russ has gone on to do more propagation, so they now have several bushes.
As formal as the garden is, it is full of whimsical little visual treats. Gargoyle faces peek out of stone walls throughout the garden, each represents a friend or family member. Some are scowling, others are laughing. Fairy houses pop up in flower beds and out from under the stone walls. One just below a window of the house even has its own gas flame fire pit. “It’s another way we remember our daughter,” said Sara.
I think that’s how I would like to be remembered, too.