When she took on this West Seattle backyard, landscape designer Lisa Port wanted to create a garden that would shine year-round. But she admits to playing seasonal favorites: “I really love this garden in fall because it gets kind of unruly,” says Port. That’s when the ripe grasses turn golden and the dogwoods’ leaves blaze scarlet, the late afternoon sun intensifying the quintessentially autumnal palette.
It’s a far cry from the ratty lawn Port found when she arrived on the scene, hired by homeowners (and Alaska transplants) Kathryn and Mark Daughhetee. Port achieved the low-water dreamscape by combining perennials like gaura and orange sedge that peak late in the growing season with evergreens like mugo pine, rosemary, and sedums for year-round lushness. She also kept a few existing plants that look their best in the fall, including Stewartia and coral-bark maple. But it’s the red leaves of the fernleaf fullmoon maples that really make the garden, Port says. “Against the blue sky, they glow.”