Giving Back for the Holidays

Photo of Winterberry Plant
Ilex verticillata are a star of the winter landscape.

This holiday season…

I want to show my gratitude to our community by giving half of every consultation fee to Arlington’s Offender Aid and Restoration program (OAR).

Schedule your site consultation between now and Christmas and know that while we’re talking and dreaming about your landscape, you’re also giving to others in a very tangible way. (And yes, it’s the perfect time to start planning for spring!)

Want to know more about OAR? Take a tour to hear all about this wonderful program serving our neighbors and their families.

Second chances and restoration- the very meaning of Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

Landscape Lighting is the Finishing Touch

When we think of gardens, we immediately think of plants, stone, brick, benches etc. We tend to picture ourselves walking through or sitting out in the sunshine, enjoying the sights, fragrances and sounds. But one of the most magical things you can do in your landscape is to add lighting. Outdoor lighting is the absolute icing on the cake, that extra element that elevates the charm factor to a completely new level.

One of the most common lighting functions is uplighting, which is most often used to highlight trees, architecture, and statuary or artwork. The other is path lighting, which guides you through the garden and provides a measure of safety, as well. Both of these basic functions create a welcoming warmth to your home, and they also allow you to enjoy your garden more in the evenings, which might be the only time you’re home during the work week. Even if you’re stuck in the house, you’ve given yourself a beautiful view to enjoy. I especially like they way I don’t feel so closed in during these darker months of the year. Expanding my view out to the back of my garden makes me feel less mentally confined somehow.

If you’re starting your landscape design, be sure to include lighting in your final plans. If you already have a garden but don’t have any lights yet- I can help with that!

First Impressions

Changing the front entrance to your home is one of the most impactful choices you can make in your landscape. These clients recently completed a beautiful remodel and needed to start from scratch with the front walkway and planting beds. We replaced the old, narrow brick walkway with a bolder, rectilinear yet meandering flagstone walk for a welcoming path to the front door.

The details:

The Techo-bloc Rocka step make a neat transition between levels and blends beautifully with the natural stone. Large pieces (18″ x 18″, 18″ x 24″, and 18″ x 36″) of mixed color Pennysylvania flagstone keep the look simple and clean and complement the new Hardiplank facade in both color and form. The stones are set tightly on a base of compacted stone dust and finished with poly sand.

A very simple palette of plants was put in at this mid-fall date- Hydrangea, Prunus ‘Otto Luyken’, Sarcococca humilis, Ilex glabra, Dryopteris, Hosta, Phlox subulata, Pennisetum, Hypericum. The huge oak trees have been limbed up a bit for the renovation, so we’ll see what the sunlight conditions are over the next few seasons and adjust as needed.

Meanwhile, we’ll admire the great work of The King’s Masons as we wait for the garden to mature. Welcome in!

Good Gardeners Make Good Neighbors

Photo of St. Mary's
St. Mary’s on North Glebe always has the most beautiful gardens.


There are two things I love about living near St. Mary’s Episcopal Church– the bells, and the gardens. Landscape efforts truly benefit everyone by making our neighborhoods more beautiful, and this property is a prime example. The church grounds contain spring-blooming cherry trees, summer perennials, fall color, and best of all, a wonderful group of Winterberries that glow in winter and perfectly match that famous Episcopal red door. Every time I drive by I say to myself, “Thanks be to God- and gardeners!”

Growing from Seed


I’m no expert when it comes to vegetable gardening. I plant things I like to eat, follow the basic instructions, and cross my fingers. It’s amazing how often this actually leads to food! This year I tried something new- okra. I’m not a particular fan of okra, but a friend said it was a beautiful plant and I should grow it just for looks, so I put one in a pot and forgot about it.

One day I was weeding out back and I noticed the container, hidden behind several other containers with big salvia plants in them. Lo and behold, there was an okra ready to pick! That led to some gumbo (not very original) and me moving the pot out to the front porch so I could enjoy it. But once again it escaped my attention because I suddenly noticed this perfectly dried pod and seeds a couple days ago. I asked Meredith of Love & Carrots if it’s easy to grow okra from seed and she said, yes, try it! So I will. I’ll let you know how it goes next spring.

Want to integrate edibles into your garden plan? I can help with that.

Consider the Labyrinth

Photo of stone labyrinth

I recently came across this stone labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island. Once I started, I felt compelled to finish the walk. I don’t think that’s the intention, but I did start to think that this would be really fun to build. Maybe I’ll play around with a mini-labyrinth as a sort of pop-up feature in my gravel patio out back. I think the actual construction would be a very contemplative process- carefully selecting each stone, placing them side by side, following the curves. Of course I’ll need some larger stones- time for a visit to Sisler’s?

Landscape Inspiration at Pleasant Beach Village

I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Inn at Pleasant Beach on Bainbridge Island. Aside from a great location and a very comfortable and stylish stay, I absolutely loved the landscape around the hotel and shops! Everything was so much nicer than it needed to be, giving the sense that the buildings were truly situated within a garden. Even the parking lots were integrated into the larger scheme. Plants, water, sculpture, framed views- so many details were considered. A huge thank you to the many people who designed, installed, and continue to maintain this beautiful destination!

Far Reaches Farm

I had a wonderful trip to Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, Washington, yesterday. My mother, aka The Plant Collector, goes there on a regular basis, and we finally got to go together. If Port Townsend is in reach for you, go for a visit ASAP! The demonstration gardens were wonderful, particularly the greenhouse, which felt like a trip into the Rain Forest with towering lilies and enormous foliage in every direction.

If you don’t live locally, you’re still in luck, because they have a very popular mail order business. As for me, I had 2 takeaways: 1) I must track down some Melica uniflora f. albida as soon as I get home; and 2) When visiting, always plan to have lunch up the road at the Spruce Goose Cafe at the Jefferson County International Airport!

Sliding Door for Porch Screen

Photo of a front porch

Inspiration is everywhere! I alway enjoy looking around my client’s neighborhoods to see what people are doing with their gardens. This neighbor made clever use of a sliding door to create a movable wall at the end of their front porch. What a great way to create privacy without completely blocking access to the side yard. I’ll definitely keep this idea in my back pocket!

Not sure what to plant? Look around!

Photo of woodland garden
Ferns, Pulmonaria, Hellebores, Redbud, Astilbe and more grow at the driveway’s edge of this woodland garden.

Whenever I go for a site visit, I like to look around the neighborhood to see what’s growing. This gives me a sense of the area and also helps me identify plants that might thrive, especially with regard to deer. This lovely garden is at the edge of a long driveway on a very wooded lot. I was surprised to see the host looking so good, but you never know what route deer will take as they pass through. Maybe the proximity of the hellebores acts as a deterrent? I don’t know, but I enjoyed seeing it.