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A cozy patio garden in Seattle

By Lucinda O'Halloran
Veggie and annual border

Veggie and annual cut flower border


Tonus-Ellis2Tonus-Ellis3A blank space from which to start

Before construction and planting


A patio garden that provides food as well as relaxation.


This couple wanted their sunny front yard to be more welcoming and functional than the existing lawn provided (bottom photo). So out with the boring lawn and in with a patio and planting space for veggies and cut flowers!  We started by creating a master plan that identifies key elements as well as all the details.  Once the plan was completed we established priorities and they went to work.


On a strict budget, the homeowners are installing the garden themselves.


The first year’s allowance was designated for the garden’s structure:  the paver patio and trellis addition to the pre-existing fence.  To save money on plants the first season, she cleverly populated the beds with vegetables from starts and annual flowers from seed.  A beautiful way to bring the space alive without a lot of expense!  They plan to purchase permanent plantings incrementally according to plan and will continue filling in the empty areas with annual flowers and vegetables as needed.


Can you imagine relaxing among the towering sunflowers as you welcome guests through the stand of zinnias?  I can!  Even the owners’ cat loves hanging out with an eye toward the natural activity all a buzz.  This patio garden is a great example of bringing beauty and function to a small space while working on a budget.  The first step is to develop a plan!

Seattle Backyard Creates Community

By Lucinda O'Halloran


Through the garden trellis

Through the garden trellis



The landlord of this multi-unit property wanted to create an inviting outdoor community space for her tenants to enjoy. We designed an overall master plan for the entire back yard that included multiple seating areas.  The main dining area is located under the arbor with a smaller, more intimate seating area located back along the updated garage.

This is a multi-phase project that began with the installation of the main flagstone patio, arbor and plantings by Pacifica Landscape Services.  The garage was rebuilt by Cobalt Construction to accommodate parking and future studio.  Electrical in the garage was upgraded by Exact Electric.

aoverview-before Waiting for the plants! aoverview-after

It’s December, what can I do in the garden?

By Lucinda O'Halloran

Image via Donald's Greenhouse --

If you’re looking for an excuse to be outside on a rare sunny or dry December day in Seattle, here are some things you can do in the garden:

Plant those spring bulbs you didn’t get planted in October.  However, don’t delay!  The sooner they’re planted, the longer they’ll have to cool and the better chance they will bloom.

Clean-up fallen leaves from the grass (if you have any) and rake them into a planting bed.  It’s also a good idea to rake them out of the street gutter to keep storm drains clear.

Weed planting beds and get a jump on those pesky winter weeds.  They will not go away!  It’s better to pull them now before they multiply.

Take a walk and see what’s happening in the gardens around you.  You’ never know what you’ll happen upon.  I saw a few cherry blossoms last week.  :-0

Whether you have 15 or 45 minutes, the important thing is to get out there and enjoy the day!


By Lucinda O'Halloran


Today I’d like to talk about Ferns and how now is the perfect time in the Northwest to prune those lovelies. The fiddleheads (new shoots) are finally willing to unfurl and delight us with their grace. So quick, prune the old fronds down to the base before the new shoots grow up and confuse things. Don’t despair if you can’t get to them, the old fronds can still be cut back later in the season but it’s much easier to do it now before the new fronds grow among the existing. The plant will look a little bare for a short while but once the new fronds begin unfurling their lush, green delight you’ll be glad you pruned them when you did.

What to do with the old fronds? Well, you can put them in your yard waste bin, add them to your own compost pile or lay them on the ground as mulch. They add a nice texture to the side of a path or a garden bed and as they decompose they will add wonderful nutrients to the soil.

Bulbs! Bulbs! Bulbs!

By Lucinda O'Halloran

Bulbs! Bulbs! Bulbs!

Bulbs! Bulbs! Bulbs!  Ever wonder what to do with those daffodil, tulip, crocus and hyacinth bulbs once they’ve finished putting on their spring show?  Just let them be.  Let them wither, turn brown and just lay there.  To us it may look like they’re not doing anything but the leaves are busy soaking up nutrients from the sun and storing them for next Spring’s flower show.

Some folks like to tie the leaves into a loose knot for a tidier look but it’s not necessary.  You can also plant them near deciduous shrubs or perennials that will cover up the leaves as they (the shrubs and perennials) leaf out.  When the bulb leaves are completely brown, that is the time to cut them back at the soil level.

So if you’ve ever wondered why your bulbs haven’t bloomed, perhaps you cut them back too soon the previous Spring.  Or, maybe it was your friendly neighborhood squirrels playing tricks and relocating them to their favorite location!  In any event, it’s a great excuse to plant new bulbs come Fall.  Check out the species tulips.  They are very sweet.