Retreat for all seasons

How an outdoor room gives a woodland garden year-round appeal

Jim McCausland

 In the front, a dazzling mixed border greets visitors as they approach the house. Calhoun thinned out the shrubby, overgrown bed, saving some Joe Pye weed and Miscanthus. Then she mixed in 'Sally Holmes' roses and colorful perennials, including black-eyed Susans and daylilies. Now the owners enjoy their lush new surroundings in comfort all year.

Four great ideas from this garden

1. Vary textures and colors to spiff up shaded places.

Ferns, gunneras, hostas, and Japanese forest grass create textural contrast, while astilbes, hydrangeas, primroses, and rhododendrons light up the woodland with flowers.

2. Hide drainage channels.

Calhoun installed French drains beneath the lawn and driveway to carry off excess water. (Since the drainage problem was severe, she also hired an engineer.)

3. Save existing plants.

Many of the garden's perennials, shrubs, and trees were retained ― they just needed thinning.

4. Think twice before discarding anything.

After the landscapers pulled a cedar log out of the muck during pond construction, they cleaned it and turned it into a bench. It's now a favorite garden feature.

Info: Kevin Gent, KdG Architecture, Bainbridge Island (206/842-1613). Susan Calhoun,

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