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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, October 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Gardening: Dragoon Creek homeowners create award-winning eclectic landscape

Keith and Vickie Thompson stand in their cottage garden next to one of the arbors they built out of trees from their pine thickets. (Pat Munts / The Spokesman-Review)
Keith and Vickie Thompson stand in their cottage garden next to one of the arbors they built out of trees from their pine thickets. (Pat Munts / The Spokesman-Review)

Sometimes creating a garden in our area takes a little bush whacking before the planting can begin.

Vickie and Keith Thompson created their award-winning garden after a lot of work clearing out space in 10 acres of pine thickets near Dragoon Creek in north Spokane County. Their efforts won them the June Garden of the Month Award and a place on the recent Spokane in Bloom Garden Tour. The contest and the tour are sponsored by the Inland Empire Gardeners.

The Thompsons finished building their house and moved in January 2009, just as the region was getting back on its feet after a December 2008 snowstorm. Once the snow melted they got to work clearing some of the dense stands of pine so Vickie could have the garden she had been dreaming of for years.

“I grew up on a farm with lots of animals and enjoyed doing 4-H and FFA and growing stuff. This was like coming home again to have garden space,” she said.

That first spring, Vickie started by planting roses right around the house and quickly learned that the deer loved the plants as much as she did. That meant they would have to build some fences to keep them out.

“I just realized that I would have more space to plant,” she said.

Once the fence was up, they began planning all kinds of perennials, more roses, vines and native trees. “I pick plants up on sale and take in other people’s cast offs and just plant whatever I get with no particular theme.” While Vickie does the planting, Keith, who runs a lawn and tree service, takes care of the lawns.

As a result, the garden is a wonderfully eclectic mix that reminded me of a series of whimsical and wild cottage gardens.

At the front door, you are greeted by a cozy perennial garden that features a mix of Joe Pye weed, campanula, roses and daisies. The butterflies love the Joe Pye weed. On the porch, are several large pots of tomatoes turning red.

A walk around the house takes you through a decorative arbor to the back yard. Keith built the arbor out of some of the many long, thin pines he is clearing to improve their wildfire resistance.

In the back garden, Vicki has filled several beds with more perennials and roses that created bright and vibrant splashes of color backdropped by a cute gazebo and a purple Jackmanii clematis.

But that wasn’t enough for them. Vickie had grown up with animals and a place in the country wasn’t complete without a menagerie of chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, dogs, cats and two horses.

“We enjoy having the birds around for their eggs and might eventually do some rabbit breeding,” Keith said.

With 10 acres, the Thompsons are also extending their gardens into an area they want to establish as an event center for weddings and receptions.

“The idea got started when our son asked if they could get married here and we just ran with it,” said Vickie.

Pat Munts is co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook” with Susan Mulvihill. She can be reached at

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