Landscaping is for the birds in Seattle

I never set out to create a garden that would attract birds.  I created a garden for my enjoyment and it turns out that birds have been flocking to it for years.  Here is what I’ve learned about making a garden both people and bird friendly.

 Robin in callicarpa
Plant diversity – A variety of plants attract a variety of birds.  Many gardens are full and plentiful in the spring and summer but a garden with plants for all seasons is not only pleasing to people but a lifesaver for birds.  Plenty of berries and seeds to eat through the year keep birds happily near your garden or dropping by regularly.  Most winter blooming plants are very fragrant and entice people to stop by for a whiff. They also bring pollinating insects to the plants.  Insects provide much needed winter food for many birds and when the ground is frozen, these birds will appreciate the fall berries that still persist on many shrubs.  Winter bloomers also sustain hummingbirds that provide endless entertainment for people.
 Hummingbird
No chemicals – If you want to create a healthy ecosystem for yourself and family, leave the chemicals behind.  A well designed garden will have very little problem with pests because you will be working with Mother Nature instead of struggling against her.  Birds will be attracted to slugs and harmful insects and will keep the population in check without pesticides.  Plants get the nutrients they need from regular mulching with compost and limited organic fertilizers.  Chemical fertilizers produce rapid new growth which attracts an abundance of aphids.  Birds do a great job of keeping a normal population of aphids from getting out of hand.
 Birds in the snow
Shelter - A garden that is pleasing to the eye has many levels, from tall conifers to groundcovers.  In between are small trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials.  These levels welcome many kinds of birds and provide them with shelter from the cold, protection from predators and places to look for food.
 Birds at water
Water – Every garden, especially a diverse one, needs focal points to give the human eye something to focus on.  Water features such as bird baths or rocks with depressions deep enough to collect water make a garden more interesting and provide needed water for birds and insects.
Bird watching in a low maintenance garden
Low maintenance – Saving the best for last, a diverse, layered and organic garden requires less time and money to maintain.  Be sure to put a bench in your garden so you can spend your free time enjoying your feathered friends.
 
Pat Reh is the General Manager of Northwest Botanicals Inc.  Most of her colleagues enjoy attracting birds to their gardens with one dedicated birder reporting 51 species in his small Seattle garden.                   
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Seattle newspaper features Northwest Botanicals, Inc.

It was a great honor and pleasure to be interviewed by Seattle’s Soy Source newspaper. They wanted our advice about using native plants in the gardens that we design and maintain. While we use some Pacific Northwest native plants regularly, we ironically use many plants from Japan as they are often a better size for Seattle gardens than many large natives.

Soy Source article都会に適したオーガニックの庭
ネイティブプラントを使った庭作りのアドバイスを求めて、造園デザイン会社ノースウェスト・ボタニカルズ(Northwest Botanicals)のマネージャー、パット・レーさんを尋ねたのだが、開口一番「うちではネイティブプラントより、日本や中国の植物をよく使うんです」という衝撃の事実を聞かされた。キング郡はネイティブプラントでの庭作りを推奨しているのだが、実際の現場では通用しにくいという。「都会の庭には大きすぎたり、繁殖しすぎるうえ、ユニークな形や鮮やかな色のものが少ないので、それだけではつまらない庭になってしまいます。それに比べて、例えば日本のショウジョウモミジなどは、葉の色が季節ごとにピンク、緑、赤と変化して秋の紅葉も楽しめるし、しかもこの土地の気候に適しているんですよ」

Here is a link to the article in Japanese:

http://www.soysource.net/%E7%89%B9%E9%9B%86/

Here is a translation provided to us by Maho Kashiwazaki of Soy Source newspaper:

We visited Pat Reh who works at Northwest Botanicals as a general
manager in order to ask about native plant gardens. However, she told us
that they use more Japanese and Chinese plants than native plants, which
surprised us.
They prefer Japanese and Chinese plants because:
▪ Native plants are too big for small city gardens
▪ Native plants spread too much/easily
▪ Native plants are boring/not unique
▪ Japanese plants fit the NW environment
▪ Japanese plants such as Japanese Maple ‘Shojo’ has a beautiful array
of leaf colors according to the seasons

Organic Gardens
Northwest Botanicals is an organic company that focuses on not using
chemicals.
▪ Plant berries and other plants that bring birds and insects which eat
harmful insects
▪ Do not plant plants that attract snails and slugs

Tips for Garden Design
▪ Check the shade, wetness, types of soil
▪ Design a path to lead people to the garden
▪ Place beds along the path
*if the garden already has a tree, place those plants that grow well in
the shade of the tree like hydrangeas and ferns
▪ Plant evergreens that structure the gardens all year round
▪ Go see public gardens like “Kubota Garden” to get ideas for your garden

What to Do Now
Winter is the best season to add compost and plant because roots are growing
well even though there is no change  above ground.
How to compost
▪ Do not dig and mix compost with the soil because that breaks the
structure of the soil
▪ Put the compost on the ground surface so that the gravity, rain, and
insects bring them into the soil.

Northwest Botanicals, Inc.
☎ 206-932-1850
northwestbotanicals.com

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Winter Woodland Wonderland

Embracing the forest in your back yard

Many gardens on Mercer Island, near Seattle, have large trees like Douglas Fir and it can be difficult incorporating them into a garden.
In this garden, the trees are now the featured focal point.

Winters around Seattle can be grey and depressing

Winters around Seattle can be grey and depressing

Paths and colorful plants invite you into the garden

Paths and colorful plants invite you into the garden

Our clients wanted to spend time on their deck in every season

Our clients wanted to spend time on their deck in every season

The garden is a delight even in the dark of winter

The garden is a delight even in the dark of winter

Before, weeds, cones and needles were the main feature in the garden

Weeds and fir cones and needles were the main feature

The bark path blends perfectly into the woodland setting and the hardy plants provide interest all year

The bark path blends perfectly into the woodland setting and the hardy plants provide interest all year

“We are really enjoying our new view out the windows and can hardly wait to see it grow.  More importantly, we will be able to enjoy and use the backyard.” -Nancy

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West Seattle Garden Transformed

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We created a beautiful and practical alternative to a tired lawn

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Walking on a wet lawn is never a good idea

We created a beautiful entry garden

The path allows easy access from parked cars to the front door

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Lawns require a lot of time and effort to look good in Seattle

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The new crushed gravel path blends with the existing walk. The stream bed is the focal point of the new garden

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Before this was just a boring lawn

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Now the new paths lead you around the house

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Many shades of Fall in Seattle gardens

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Fall colors are abundant in well designed Seattle gardens

The colors tie the landscape together

A small but exquisite  maple in a pot catches the eye
Heart shaped cercis leaves
The delicate yellowing heart shaped leaves call for a closer look
Clerodendron pods
Colorful seed pods scream for attention
Callicarpa berries
Bright purple berries echo the subtle hue of the leaves
Spider web
The spider’s web is a pearl necklace set against the grassy background
cotinus coggygria
The curious examine the purple tones of the smoke bush

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Shady and wet Seattle garden

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Plants in this shady and wet Seattle garden thrive in their environment.

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The lawn never did well due to the shade and poor drainage.

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Dennis created a design with gravel paths that intersect the front walkway with room for a small table and chairs.

We removed the lawn and laid out the new paths.

We chose plants that do well in the shady, wet site.

The gravel paths give the garden structure and provide access to the beds.

Three years later, the garden is full and lush.

This is a cool retreat on a sunny day.

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Seattle garden transformation


Our clients wanted an easy care but beautiful garden with a small patio for their front yard.
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Their yard was a blank slate with no separation from their neighbor.image_3
Dennis created a design sketch to show how the new garden would look with paths, planting beds, and the patio close to the front steps.image_4
A new fence was added and we laid out the paths and beds and began creating the garden.
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The new garden has transformed the front yard.image_6
The space was not inviting from the house or from the street.

‘We are very happy! Carrie
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Now the neighbors have a beautiful garden view and the path invites visitors to stroll through it. ???????????????????????????????
This space by the front door was uninviting and the Nandinas blocked the view from inside.
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The small patio is a cozy space for morning coffee.
“I am so happy we decided to go with your company! You are truly a joy to work with.” – Carrie

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