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The Garden Awakens

Anise 'Woodland Red' ( Illicium floridanum ) A few weeks ago, I thought spring would never arrive, but now the change is astonishing. The nights are still cold (40s and sometimes even 30s) so planting tender annuals and vegetables is unwise although I have already succumbed, but covering and uncovering things gets old quickly. Someone made a wise comment last week and I must agree with them - "Don't plant anything tender until after May 1". Several plants are blooming like never before. One is the Anise shrub (above and below). I don't know if the recent tree pruning, which is allowing more sun into the woodland path, is affecting it or perhaps it is just age, but I've never seen so many blooms. Michael refers to this as "the stinky fish shrub" and I have to admit to smell of the flowers is quite unpleasant. It is so beautiful that I can overlook that. The old pink dogwood tree, which was already here, shades our woodland path and it too is prett

Neighborhood Walk

Recently Kris at Late to the Garden Party shared photos of landscapes around her neighborhood and I thought it was a great idea because I love seeing what others are doing (or not doing) in their gardens. I also love to look at houses. About a month ago, I started walking regularly, something I've never done in the past, and I like it so much that I feel guilty if I miss a day. A neighbor has been walking with me and she introduced me to her 4-mile route (10,000 steps) that goes through a very nice neighborhood that borders our own. 

There is not a great deal to see garden-wise because of the time of year so I am looking forward to seeing these in the spring. For the past week, the weather has been awful with cold temperatures barely getting into the 40s and rain, rain, rain. 

This neighborhood is on a bluff that overlooks Vancouver Lake.

Flowers are beginning to make an appearance, however, such as this Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'. Blue seems to be the "in" color with houses. This one is really nice but there is another that is our favorite but I don't have a photo. 

I love this and I would like to do a smaller version in our front garden instead of the urn water feature that we have now.

This one is really nice with an Asian influence. As much as I love it, I would not have the restraint to pull it off. The entry goes into an open courtyard from what I can tell by looking from the street.

Yes, there is a lot of ivy and juniper here but I think this is so well done. I've seen the gardeners out working from time to time. They are elderly and hats off to them for working on this steep slope. 

When I first began to plan our garden, my first thought was to do something like this - a low raised bed. I went the cheaper route (a rail fence) but still envision this. I would go with totally different plants though.

This is my favorite and I can't wait to see this later in the year. 

So beautifully done, I hope to see the gardeners out one day and ask them about it. I would change the rocks on the light post to match the darker rock work.

Another garden with an Asian design. The column with the bell is a nice touch.

I include this one because I love the shrub. I'm not sure what it is. It totally blocks the front door but a very nice specimen.

So, assuming I keep up the walking, I will include more in later posts.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I'm impressed with your commitment to walking. So healthy for body and soul.
    As the season progress, it would be fun to note all the changes that occur in neighbors' front yards, so many are lovingly tended to. The Asian inspired garden is my favorite: I'm fascinated by the courtyard... I'd be so curious to take a peek inside...

  2. How I envy that small front garden waterfall! One household in my neighborhood recently hired a professional to landscape a front garden that's looked hideous since we moved in 13 years ago and I'm possibly more excited by that prospect than the the homeowners themselves!

  3. Thanks for taking us on your walk, such a great thing you are doing for yourself. And nice you have a neighbor to chat with. I love the water feature. The Asian garden with the courtyard is my favorite. It makes me desperate to peek inside the courtyard. I would have incredibly less restraint in every single garden. lol -I look forward to seeing these in warmer months.

  4. Walking around checking out other people's gardens is really fun. Your walk neighborhood is lovely.

    Even if the walking has to take second place to gardening come good weather, there's always next year for more walks.

  5. Your neighborhood is indeed charming. I’m afraid that mine would just disappoint me, as I seem to be one of the few who even attempt any landscaping!

  6. Your favorite on the corner of NW 21st and NW 88th street is also one of my favorites. It is really starting to mature. I believe it is two sisters that have done this and it is really nice. My favorite right now is east down 85th across from Jason Lee

    1. Oh gosh, I think you may be referring to my garden. If so, thanks so much!


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