meet me at the beach

experiencing the islanders' garden

I was ecstatic to take on the challenge of helping a lovely couple realize the garden for their newly remodeled beachfront retirement home, though I soon felt a bit intimidated as the design parameters of being on the shores of Puget Sound began to unfold.  For one, the views...I mean, the garden has some stiff competition for attention with this scene unfolding out the front door!
year-round drama...sunset view from the front deck
The site is perched on Utsalady Bay on Camano Island; the foundation literally just a few footsteps from the water's edge. 
Jeff & Bonney affectionately referred to their home as a 'cottage' before it transforming it into the fabulous, custom-built, contemporary, comfortable water-front home it is today.  Throughout the new home there are several 'beach cottage' elements tastefully incorporated in both interior and exterior.  So we all agreed when embarking on the garden's design that it felt natural to keep the feel of a casual, cottage-like garden as the material choices for stone and other details presented themselves.  
Covered composite deck
The proximity to Puget Sound presents special environmental considerations when it comes to planting.  Especially challenging were conditions were salt, high winds, and flooding.  Over the past three years since this garden was substantially completed the weather has taken its toll.  However, I am happy to report most of the plants have proved to be survivors, and the stonework and deck remain securely in tact.  

Front view
For the front (sound-side) the resilient  rosa rugosacryptomeria, and shore pine (pinus contorta) have proven to be the best enduring species for ornamental woody shrubs.  Keeping it simple was key to planning for this mico-climate.  It's only a small space between threshold and bulkhead and the focus of course is on the expansive view and great water access.  To maximize enjoyment and keep the maintenance low there is an all composite deck; mostly covered to keep it cozier.  For site specific 'mulch' we allowed the sound to add its personal touch with the addition of beach debris in the form of shell fragments and driftwood (as you can see in the beds). 
Stewartia psuedocamellia
Much to my delight, Bonney is an avid gardener. She really took the reigns and realized the palette that became the fabulous 'entry courtyard' garden. Once the flagstone path was laid, the soil and rock placed we focused on the primary trees and shrubs and lighting locations. I guided her with selections, but overall, this garden was a family effort.  I simply supplied a solid schematic layout and some coaching from my year of experience.  

Bonney fastidiously weeding
Now in its 4th full season, this sweet seaside garden is looking better then ever, yet still evolving (as a good garden should).  Though the past few years, Bonney and Jeff have add hints of personality, herbs and veggies, and some new plants here and there.  

Glamour perennial of 2014- Digiplexis

You can check out more of this sweet 'beach strolling garden' on June 28th during the 7th Annual Camano Island Habitat Garden Tour. It is one of several lovely private island gardens that will be open to the public from 10am- 4pm. The focus is on the establishment of wildlife habitat. 

Fun details- imprints of sea life in the concrete
remnants of coral and beach glass as a decorative gap along the foundation
Crabs like pineapple sage...who knew?!
A big thanks to both Bonney & Jeff for being so wonderful, fun to work with, and hands-on.  Not to mention the bonus of fresh crab, incredible views, and giving me good excuses for more island excursions:-)

Happy summer everyone...enjoy your garden, the beach, or wherever you wander! 

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