Evolution of the Garden...The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

A comprehensive look at the changes in the house and garden would not only be too cumbersome, but extremely boring! I've included a few photos of certain areas of the yard just to show how much things have changed in the past 23 years. When we first moved in, it was a charming little 5-acre farm that had been occupied by two Serbian fellows in the 30's and 40's. They farmed the place and it is said that one of them did most of the outside chores and the other tended to the house, cooking, etc. One of the long-time neighbors told of how the manure taken out of the barn would be spread around by hand (and I mean literally!). The house had its problems and was old, but the view and situation were wonderful and when we came onto the porch after looking at the bleak house (it had been empty for six months), we were impressed with the QUIET. Another thing I observed when we walked toward the barn was the mole mounds. The soil looked wonderful! No chipping away at hardpan with a pickax was to happen here (my mother always battled that when she would plant her beloved rhododendrons). Anyway...against reason, we bought the place in 1975.

The majority of the photos are from the past decade. That was when the garden really began to take shape and be fleshed out with herbaceous plants. Early on, we paid a landscape designer at a local nursery to draw up a plan for us. Fifty dollars seemed like a lot at the time, but it was money well spent, and she earned every penny. It was a large area she planned to our specifications. Of course, I've made changes to the original plan, but it gave us a good foundation to build on.

[Front Bed Old]

This is the bed we planted in the front yard. You can just barely see the Olympics in the background. One of those little tufts is a Cedrus deodara that is rather tall now...let's just say that if I were to stand in this spot and try to capture this photo, you wouldn't see past the plants! Compare this birch tree to the photo below. It's the same one, and those are the rhododendrons next to it!


[Front Yard with Rhodies '96]

The above bed taken after about ten years, looking toward the front of the house (where the front porch and door used to be...see photo below.)

[North Side of House circa 1978 with Forsythia]

The prettiest Spring thing we had in the yard when we were first here was this gorgeous Forsythia (not sure of variety...but big full flowers) on the Northwest corner of the house (this was in the late 70's). It had to be dug eventually. While I like Forsythia, I don't consider it to be a very good front yard plant. Notice the old Rose bushes near the white foundation of the house. That little home grown fence around the front porch and this bed was probably to protect something or keep the kids and animals out...I can't remember anymore! The new plants placed there were so small, that they could have easily been destroyed by either one! The square arch in the background was the gate to the orchard, which at that time had a deer fence around it to allow the trees to GROW! The 'Unique' Rhody is planted to the right of that gate.

[North Side of House in May of 1996]

This is the same view across the front of the house (looking from West to East) taken in about May of 1996. The old front porch is gone and the whole area was turned into flowerbed. We now enter on the East side of the house near the alley bed.

[Flowerbed North of Entry in April 1979... Rhody 'Unique']

This was one of the first areas we landscaped according to the plan we'd had drawn up (although it wasn't long before I was making some changes in material). The little row of plants on the left is Viburnum davidii and it sorely needs cutting back now to expose the path. The little blue Rhody in the background is 'Sapphire'. Currently it is getting shaded out and engulfed by the Mugo pines which here, are cute little mounds! Ron thinks it's time to pull them out, but other things have taken priority. The feathery branches on the right of the photo (slightly blurred) are the Hinoki False Cypress, which you can see in the next photo has gotten quite huge! (It is not the dwarf type.) The bushy Holly in the left background was removed. The small tree in center back is the Flowering Plum (given to us by my Aunt Mary when our firstborn son, Michael, was born). By the way...you can no longer walk through the center of this bed where you see those cedar rounds!

[Rhododendron 'Unique' 1998'

This is the R. 'Unique' bush in 1998. If you look close (it's kind of dark) you can see Michael's Flowering Plum looming in the background!

[Entry Area August '98]

This is our current front entry and this photo was taken in August of 1998. The pink flowers are Heather...Calluna vulgaris 'H.E. Beale.' That evergreen that fills the upper right corner of the photo is the Hinoki False Cypress that you saw above. It is probably 15-18 feet tall! Notice our amazing disappearing path? While charming, it is getting to be a pain to go through there and drastic measures must soon be taken.

This looks pretty good to me right now since this graveled access to the basement is currently more weeds than gravel and the perennial beds that replaced this bit of lawn are full of weeds and grass! :-( I am guessing this was taken around 1985 after Ron put in the gravel access and we barked the bed west of the deck (deck is not built yet, but the retaining wall is in place that supports it). See the little Styrax japonica tree left of center? It has really grown a lot since then...also the bushes to the left are now quite big (I'm about to give two of them away). Sure wish our lawn was green right now (I'm typing this October 1st). This looks great!

This was the front of the house in the early to mid-80's. Notice the ugly little protective fence is gone! Some of the current landscaping is already in place, but the Japanese Maple to the left is MUCH taller now. The chimney on the left is where the problems started (house fire). The old construction allowed wood to be touching the fire box and after years of slow charring, it finally took off (we didn't know this, of course, until after the fact!). For a couple of years, we had nothing but a wall of plastic in our living room to separate us from the great outdoors! I Don't recommend it.

[Front of House circa 1980?]

Click here to see this area now.

Recognize the same Japanese Maple? This was shot a couple of years after the fire that damaged this portion of the house. Our current entry is just behind the rear of the truck (old dependable that it was!).


[House after Fire -1984?]


We no longer have livestock (and the overgrown fields prove it!), but this is a photo of a wild horse we adopted from the Bureau of Land Management in about 1977 (we named her "Deseret"). By the time I got my lifelong dream to own a horse, I already had two children and soon number three was on the way. It wasn't the most practical thing I ever did! Her hind quarters are not really that high...she's standing on a slight hill going up to the barn (you can see the corner of it in the right background). That white thing behind her is another horse.This part of the fence has been removed and this spot currently houses a compost heap and usually someone's parked car. By the way...at the time this photo was taken, Deseret was about 2-2 1/2 years old and we'd had her for a year. When we got her she was literally skin and bones with a terrible coat! Once she fattened up, she never had another THIN day in her life (easy keeper to a fault)!

[House and Yard from Upper Field, Oct. '78]

This shot was taken in October of 1978 from the field above the barn (to the left). You can see our whole house and yard at that time. The bushy things behind the house are Raspberries and we also had a fenced garden where our lawn currently grows. Where are alley jungle and carport are now, we had open space and a wooden porch and stairs. No Oak tree or bed in the back yard yet. The wide chimney in front of where the van is parked was the site of our small house fire. Just to the left of it is where our current front entry is, with the wishbone shaped sidewalk.That tallest evergreen tree in the skyline was cut down within the last decade because someone was logging and saw $ signs when they looked at that tree (my opinion). Along with the Maple to its left (also removed), it was what I saw every morning when I opened the curtains to our bedroom (we've moved to another room since then). It was really sad when those two trees came down...I have NO idea how old that Douglas Fir was! The horse looking at me is Deseret and the dog waiting for her to run so she can chase her was our German Shepherd, "Muttsy." (She had a real name of Kira, but no one ever used it!)

[Front Entry late 80's]

Construction is coming along nicely and that truck belongs to my stepdad, who so generously put in many hours staining the house. This is the area where the carport went in eventually, and the bed I refer to as the "Alley Bed." That was the one I wanted to be like a jungle (and it is!). Those steps empty out onto the spot where we now have pavers coming into the front porch. Ron set those rather painstakingly and lined the edges with pressure treated timbers. It's shaped like a wishbone with a small bed in between the forked ends.

[Oak Bed in October of 1987]

This was taken in October of 1987, slightly East of the previous picture. Ron and Michael are putting the finishing touches on the roof of the carport. That little wisp of a tree near the sawhorse is the Red Oak which is currently dropping acorns all over the whole area (plus surrounding lawn). That clump of plants with the orange flowers at the base of the sawhorse is a group of Redskin Dahlias...my first planting here, along with a couple of Exbury Azaleas, which were later moved.

This was an old Polaroid shot taken by Robert when he was only eleven years old. This was March of 1988 and we are making progress on the "Alley Bed." The sticks you can see just past the cat and myself are the Pink Flowering Dogwood which is now taller than the edge of the roof. We have not yet put up the lattice - I don't even think I was fully sure what I wanted to put in this area. At the time this was taken, I was planting a few Winter Pansies near the edge of the grass leading toward the front porch (now paved). Our beloved "Big Kitty" decided it was a great opportunity to borrow some body heat, and affectionately climbed onto my shoulders while I worked. He was beginning to become ill at this time and we lost him the next year, if my memory serves me. He was probably my all-time favorite cat...and that's saying a lot! When I would take naps when the boys were tiny, this kitty would crawl up inside my arms and get his face right up under my chin.

[Kathy with Kitty Shawl!]

[Alley Bed circa 1990]

The "alley" bed after planting and a year or two of growth. Not a jungle yet, but filling in nicely. Hosta and daylilies are quick to establish. Notice how small the Clematis montana rubens is (on the lattice). It's getting out of control now! Notice the sidewalk pavers in this picture. They were almost done.


See what I mean? What a change! This was taken last spring ('97). The shrub on the right with tiny white blossoms is an Osmanthus delavayi. It has a wonderful fragrance in early Spring, but is a bit tender for harsh winters. It's never died back, but the foliage can look a bit nipped in a rough year. Currently it's looking wonderful since we had such mild weather this past winter.


[Alley Bed 1998]

Here comes Muttsy from checking on the horses. I'm standing right near the corner of the barn, looking toward the mountains. That was the back yard in October of 1978. There was a pole corral built to receive "Deseret" when we first brought her home from Ontario, Oregon. Now there is the back flowerbed, a loafing shed and garden spot in the old corral space. You can't see them, but there were also three very old outbuildings. I have a few photos of them but haven't put them on here. Other than the fenced garden space right behind the house, we had no landscaping in the back but a couple of trees the previous owners had planted (recycled live Christmas trees). There was a Forsythia growing at the back corner of the house and a Lilac Bush to the left of the porch (you can see that in the photo above). Certainly lots has changed...except those mountains!

[Back Yard from Barn in Oct.1978]

[Lifting Sod '92]

In this photo of the back yard in 1992,the sod was being lifted to make way for a large perennial bed in front of the existing trees and shrubs we had planted. I had been inspired by the idea of having a "secret" place to sit, surrounded by the garden and things that smelled wonderful (there are a lot of fragrance plants in this spot now). That's Diane who was helping her dad lift the old crummy lawn. Robert got concerned about our diminishing lawn size and wrote a paper in his literature class about the battle being fought in our yard between the lawn and the flowerbeds!


[Back Paver Pad Being Set]

This is the same area after planting. Ron has begun to establish a frame in which to lay the cement pavers. We have a bench sitting there now and it is sheltered overhead with the arbor that is seen below. The path to this spot comes in from the back end (you can see the soil compressed there) and runs between the old bed and the new. I am going to run another path from the existing pavers (foreground) to the water barrel also since it's a bit of a hassle to refill the water feature from the back end! A large Buddleia 'Lochinch' will have to be removed (but only after taking cuttings!)


[Arbor in Back '92?]


Look at how much the plants have grown (and the son!). This was taken in 1993 or 94. It is near the portion of the yard that is currently out of control. It was glorious the first season, but has slowly fallen victim to grasses and weeds (partly due to mulching with grass clippings, which I won't repeat again). The pad of pavers (like the front entry walk) you saw going in above is beneath where Ron is working and a small water feature is behind. On the arbor we planted clematis and an Ampelopsis brevidepunculata (which is going gangbusters). It is known by the common name of "Porcelainberry Vine" and has berries in the fall with beautiful shades ranging from ivory to turquoise, lavender, and jade. The leaves look much like grape. It is pictured below:

[Ampelopsis berries]

This is the little waterfall feature Ron installed, using a half whiskey barrel. There is a recirculating pump in the barrel and a hose that comes up behind through the rocks. The cord runs through the flowerbed to a playhouse in the back that has electricity. There is something indescribably soothing about the sound of trickling water. It took the birds about one day to find this, and we've often seen little sparrows bathing on the rock where the hose empties out before the water drops to the barrel. This is one of the things we need to hook up again this year and uncover from all the weeds and grass that have taken over. It's been off during the past two seasons and we miss it! The down side is that the deer like to drink out of it also, which means more frequent refilling.

[Small Waterfall circa '92]

[Back Yard '91]

A lot of changes since 1978! This is the "Oak Bed" behind the carport and attached to the "Alley Bed." The photo was taken in May or June of 1991. Compare it to the new photo on the home page taken in July of '98. The arbor was not yet put in, nor the perennial bed added, but it still looks nice...maybe even better!

This page last updated 1 October 1998.

[Red Ladybug]

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