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The Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle

The Sunny Bank I was very excited to get the opportunity to visit this garden because I've heard so much about it. It did not disappoint. The garden was created by Elisabeth Carey Miller and her husband Pendleton who purchased the house in 1948. Mrs. Miller was a self-taught gardener who used her artistic skills (she majored in Art History) to create the stunning garden which features a dense canopy of native conifers. She became a plant collector and tracked down unusual specimens and was known as a well-respected plantswoman in the horticultural community. The front entrance Visiting this garden is not exactly easy. It is situated in a restricted community and there is a limit to the number of visitors per year. You must make an appointment on the website at designated times or you can find a tour group like I did. The address isn't listed either although even if you had it, you would have to get past the security guard at the gate to the neighborhood. I think if I lived in

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day for May 2018

Spanish Lavender, Barberry 'Orange Rocket', California Lilac (Ceanothus 'Black Diamond')

Spring is officially here (or is it Summer - it was 90 yesterday, ugh) and seemingly overnight, the garden is full of so many blooms that I can hardly keep up with all of them. An embarrassment of riches or a hot mess, I am not sure which I have. One thing is for sure - plants grow fast here in the Pacific Northwest.

I am pleased that there seems to be very few losses in the garden. We did have a mild winter. The advice from local gardeners that excellent drainage is the key to success for a wide range of plants is well taken. We have good drainage on our property already and I always add lots of additives as well as planting slightly above ground level.

The terraced beds are elevated and very dry although our clay-ish soil probably holds more moisture than I realize. Here are some of the plants in that area -
Cerinthe purpurascens (Honeywort) is a new plant for me. I got it at last year's plant swap. It is very happy in very average soil mulched with gravel and in full sun. The color of the flowers is intense!

Helianthemum 'Fire Dragon' (Sun Rose) trailing over the pathway like I hoped it would.
Lewisia cotyledon 'Regenbogen' (Rainbow) - They keep dying on me and I keep trying. This is planted in
pure gravel with just a little soil. 

Dianthus 'Rose de Mai', a purchase from Joy Creek. It hasn't done much until this year and it now covered with double, soft pink flowers.

Parahebe perfoliata, another new plant that I stumbled across last year at the nursery where I work. 

Cistus crispus 'Decanso'

Another dry and difficult area is the hellstrip along the street. However, most of the things I planted there have returned with the exception of a few tender plants, like lantana and Mexican heather. The only blooms in that area now is Verbena 'Homestead Purple' which makes a wonderful groundcover.

Verbena 'Homestead Purple'

The front garden is ablaze with color -

Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps' (California Lilac) takes center stage.
Lupines being overtaken by the Ceanothus

Ceanothus 'Black Diamond' has variegated foliage.

Papaver orientale (Poppy) - I think this is 'Allegro' although it was labeled as 
'Beauty of Livermere'. 

Clematis montana 'Freda' tucked into the fence corner

Allium 'Gladiator'

Rhododendron 'Anah Kruschke', the first one I planted.

Mimulus cardinalis (Monkey Flower)

Korean Lilac 'Palibin' (Syringa meyeri)


Euphorbia characieas wulfenii

On to the back garden -

Potentilla 'Gold Star'

Geranium maculatum

Camellia 'Donation'
Prosanthera rotundifolia (Purple Flowering Mint Bush)

Rhododendron 'Jean Marie de Montague' - I find this color impossible to photograph correctly.

Peony 'Coral Sunset'

Meadow Rue (Thalictrum 'Black Stockings')

Sweet Woodruff (Gallium odoratum)

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation')

And finally, the roses are just beginning -

China Rose "Mutabalis'

David Austin Rose 'Lady of Shallot'

Grandiflora rose 'Gold Medal'

Noisette Rose 'Buff Beauty'
Sorry for such a long post! Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted by May Dreams Gardens. Check out what is blooming in other blogger's gardens around the world. 

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. That photo labeled
    The front garden is ablaze with color
    is mouth-watering as is the one below it showing the contrasting colors of blue and orange
    All of your flowers look so good as to make me cry. Your Rosa mutabilis has dozens of blossoms while mine if I am lucky may have a dozen.

  2. That must be one of my Cerinthe , I brought them to the swap last year . You'll have dozens soon ! Your garden is looking great !

    1. Yes, I think it did come from you. I love it!

  3. Your garden is wearing glorious May especially nicely! Long post? Who could tire of gazing at such beauty?

  4. Oh Phillip, it is all looking fabulous. I don't think I could pick out a favorite. I hope you'll do a back yard tour, too. It's been a great spring for blooms, at least in my yard, but hot weather arrived and is bringing that cycle to an end, or maybe just a resting stage. Finally got some much needed rain yesterday. I hope your PNW summer is delightful and keeps your plants in top form.

    1. Hooray for the rain! I think we are actually behind here. I am hoping for an average summer but I bet it will be hotter.

  5. Don't be sorry. I so enjoy seeing all the new (to me) plants that you can now grow. I am learning a lot about those plants. Happy GBBD.

  6. What a bloom day you are having. Such gorgeous plants and color. I know we couldn't grow many of those plants here in Texas I am tempted to try mainly because they look small and manageable. The helianthemum is particularly delicious.

  7. Honeywort are lovely, keep an eye out as they reseed freely.
    You captured the Lupines and Ceanothus just perfectly: although the "overtaking" part may not have been intentional, the result is stunning.


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