A trellis covered with a hop vine frames the view into the checkerboard patio.
One garden wasn't enough for Will Green. So he divided the 50- by 120-foot West Seattle lot he shares with Rich Thomas into a quintet of garden rooms. The front yard contains an entry patio, a deck, and a "checkerboard" courtyard with alternating squares of concrete and grass. In the rear yard is a small patio that Green calls the Chartreuse Terrace because the furnishings there are painted that vivid hue. And next to this patio, a large pond garden is fringed with an English-style border and boxwood.
"I tried a number of garden styles ― wildflower meadow, an English garden, the Italianate look," Green explains. Those experiments evolved into separate garden rooms, each with its own theme and mood.
Green and Thomas use each spot at different times, depending on the sun's position, what's in bloom, and what suits their mood. Mornings might find them enjoying coffee in the shade of the chartreuse patio while their two boxers, Chassy and Hannah, romp nearby.
Evenings are for dining alfresco in the west-facing checkerboard courtyard, lit by the sun's last rays. The busy city street that Green and Thomas live on is screened from view by an assortment of plantings. "With the sound of splashing water, the chirping of birds, maybe even some soft classical music playing in the garden," Green says, "traffic noise begins to sound like the wave action on a distant seashore."
When it's party time, food and drink are set up in various spots in the different gardens. "It's never just one party," Green says. "I love to wander around, checking out the different moods and conversations in each place."
Narrow lattice walls separate the garden rooms; each is covered with vines and masked by tall shrubs and delicately scaled trees. Walkways lead from one garden to the next, with arbors marking the entries. "I use arbors as picture frames," Green says. "You see an enticing picture and you want to step into it."