I love to visit Larry and Connie’s garden in Redmond, WA. Apart from the guaranteed hugs (and a homemade cookie if I time it just right) I know I will be met by a wonderfully exuberant garden. It’s a sort of English-garden-meets-Pacific-Northwest, which isn’t surprising when I tell you that I was the one who designed it. Five years ago it was the proverbial blank slate – or at least a concrete slab surrounded by clay. I’ll take you on a full guided tour another time with their permission, but today I’m just going to give you a peek at one of my favorite vignettes.

Garage doors are rarely a feature one wishes to emphasize yet they are a part of today’s lifestyle and often quite literally ‘front and center’ when you approach the home. We were lucky that there was a pocket of soil on either side of the garage door and an attractive painted pergola framed the space. I suggested planting climbers in those spots and with their love of English gardens, roses were the obvious choice.

Westerland rose seems to glow from within when lit by the early morning sun

Larry chose the Westerland rose for its heady fragrance and gentle color palette which ranges from buff yellow to apricot/peach tones, perfectly blending with the stonework on the home’s exterior. This climber scrambles easily to the top of each pillar, has good disease resistance and blooms all summer.

The two climbers mingle well by the lantern before the clematis continues on its way to cover the pergola

By why have just one climber when you can have two? I was happy to donate two of my Clematis ‘Jackmanii superba’ to plant at the base of each rose and there began the perfect partnership. Using the rose as a support the clematis easily climbs to the top of each pillar before meandering across the pergola. The rose and the clematis are perfect companions. Sort of garden friends whose lives have become intertwined, each one somehow at its best in the others company.

Larry and Connie have become very dear friends yet as much as I love to visit them I do enjoy the fact that they have given me ‘garden privileges’ so that I can stop by and take pictures of ‘our garden’ whenever I’d like to. And that’s the best bit. This isn’t my garden as much as I’m proud of the part I played in its creation. This is their garden and if I’m brutally honest their touches are some of the very best!


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  1. debsgarden on July 15, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Karen, I really admire the rose/ clematis combination! The colors are perfect. They look so healthy, no doubt partly because of the fabulous climate, but also because they are loved!

  2. Karen Chapman on July 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    They are indeed loved Deb. Larry also adds compost at least once a year and uses rose fertilizer. He is also my 'poster child' for soil management and really took to heart our discussion about how to amend and improve clay soil. You'd love his garden – DO get in touch next time you're in Portland and maybe we can make it happen.

  3. Patrick on July 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    This has to be the most beautiful post I've come upon and I welcome respite for a boy on the prairie. I must subscribe.

    • Karen Chapman on July 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Patrick, you've made my day. Plants and gardens touch our lives in so many ways – how wonderful to think that this Washington garden also reached you. I do hope you visit again and thank you for leaving a comment.

  4. Riz Reyes on July 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Ok, that does it. I WANT THAT ROSE!!!

    • Karen Chapman on July 17, 2012 at 6:22 am

      Riz you are too funny! Knew you'd like it though.

  5. Jennifer on July 17, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Hi Karen, What a perfect friendship the peachy-colored rose and clematis enjoy. It must be very rewarding to see a garden you designed mature and evolve. Good design at its very best is a collaborative process between the designer and the homeowner. The synergy between you and your clients has produced beautiful results in this garden.

    • Karen Chapman on July 17, 2012 at 6:25 am

      Jennifer, it is rewarding to know that the garden you envisioned has not just become a reality but has been nurtured and allowed to evolve with the design intent still considered. As a designer I invest so much of myself in each design but this has to be one of my favorites.

  6. Jean/Jean's Garden on July 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    That is a luscious color combination! -Jean

    • Karen Chapman on July 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Luscious indeed Jean!

  7. Stacy on July 23, 2012 at 10:33 am

    What a great way to turn a utilitarian part of a house into something beautiful and inviting. Those colors together just shout out "good cheer here!"