Mosaic Gardens Journal

news, photos and inspiration

A Romantic Deer Garden? July 19, 2011

Basalt paths frame a Vietnamese urn in Joy's front garden

The side garden is shadier, but still produces sweeps of soft color

Our artist client, Joy, wanted a romantic, flowery, soft planting, in cool and pastel shades.  Her original planting  – largely thuggish ornamental grasses and traditional landscape shrubs – had never been quite what she wanted, and when she called us, she was hoping for something more in keeping with her craftsman house and painterly aesthetic.

We’ve built the garden in stages, learning the site and its voracious deer as we work our way around.  A large Vietnamese urn and basalt pathway in front are two of our rare hardscape additions, as Joy and her husband were happy with the existing patios.  As we’ve moved to different areas of the property, we’ve adjusted our planting style to accommodate lessons learned and changing preferences.  Where spring color was her first priority in the beginning, Joy came to love plantings that provide year-round impact.   In addition to our construction work, we develop the garden over monthly visits, through which we’ve gradually amended our original plantings, creating a garden that looks fabulous in every season, while still reflecting our original aesthetic, and that accommodates the unusual and ever-changing tastes of the local deer.

Another view of the side garden

This garden owes a debt to trial-and-error, and we could not be more grateful for Joy’s trust in allowing us to bring the garden to its current successful state.  We think we’ve found an elegant balance point between floral color, year-round impact, and, of course, deer resistance.  Our highest compliment is that we often find that many of our monthly chores are complete when we arrive, and Joy, who had never been a gardener before, eager to talk about the latest developments and future opportunities.

Joy’s garden is one of four or five of our gardens that will be included in next year’s Study Weekend tour, June 1-3.  The Study Weekend is a gathering of gardeners that rotates between Vancouver, BC, Seattle, Portland and Eugene, features talks from some of the planet’s best plantspeople and designers, and a tour with the areas’ best gardens. We’ll post more here, as we learn more, but if you’d like to know more soon, please contact the WVHPG.

As the small trees we planted in the courtyard have grown, we've amended the plantings to tolerate more shade.

The hillside along the driveway was our most recent planting (Can you tell Joy loves Alliums?).

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5 Responses to “A Romantic Deer Garden?”

  1. Maria Says:

    That garden is just EXQUISITE. I love all the purples and greens and supporting textures. So peaceful and full of prettiness. Thank you for providing images that can be enlarged. Just gorgeous.

  2. Maria Says:

    How can you stay away? Seriously, I have never seen anything so swoon-worthy like that garden. Everything always looks so lush in the Pacific Northwest, despite the deer participation, and the saturated color just makes me sigh. It’s crispy time in the midwest…still doesn’t stop me from dreaming though. I have those durn turtles in the backyard who take down everything…yesterday it was the sedum. Three mature plants. The ones that are in pots (to keep them from stomping on them and eating them right away) are in the process of being pushed over this very minute. I can hear them. I also have some land in Kansas that I will eventually build on but right now I’m having fun studying up on native plants and trying to start some small gardens there. My new “problem?” The 4-6 dogs that live across the street who come over and help me…hahaha. Actually, I love it…when I eventually deal with deer I think I will consider them a minor pest compared to how I garden now (with active participating turtles and dogs). I love your work, I always meant to comment before but the garden you featured today compelled me to say something because it is such a thing of beauty. I might also be responding to all the cool colors because Gawd, it’s hot out here. 🙂

  3. Scott Says:

    Absolutely gorgeous…that’s my kind of garden! Makes me so sad I don’t have room for more shrubs 😦 I hope I can make it to the study weekend next year, if for no other reason buy to see your gardens!

  4. […] frustration is paying off.  Joy and Steve Davey’s garden has been a learning process (see our earlier journal article), but now that we’ve balanced the aesthetic goals with reality and a little time, the results […]


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