Welcome to another installment of “Grow Love”, a feature that allows me to pick the brains of some of my favorite gardeners.
A little while back my husband and I had all the fun of touring our buddy Anthony’s garden at the home he shares with his lovely partner Joy in the York neighborhood of Bellingham. Both musicians, they play together in a eclectic duo called, “Blue Star”. Check out some of their dreamy music here.
This garden grows on a historical property, once the site of a Lutheran church. Richard, who designed this dazzling mix of trees, perennials, shrubs and vines, is Anthony’s landlord and responsible for the creation of all this beauty. I was really excited to interview Anthony about his garden, not just because it’s an amazing garden but also because it’s a rental. As someone who has always been a renter, and knowing there are many other renters out there, I love featuring a garden that shows what can be achieved through collaboration and the willingness to share space.
What follows is a rough transcript of our conversation, as he showed us around the property. All photo credits for this piece go to my husband, who was kind enough to take pictures that day.
When did you guys move in here? What was here when you started?
It’s been about four years since we moved in. The landlord Richard had already put in the garden and built the terraces in order to make the right growing conditions for some of the rarer plants he had collected.
What are some of your favorite plants here?
This yellow-flowered lavender is my pride and joy. They told me when I worked at Cascade Cuts that you couldn’t grow it in the ground here. But I thought, “Screw you, I’m punk”.
So you grew it anyway?
Yes. And now that everything’s established this is basically a water free garden.
How did working at Cascade Cuts affect you as a gardener?
Well, that was the period when I really became a gardener. I helped weed my Mom’s vegetable garden as a kid, but while working at Cascade Cuts I transitioned from just “gardening” to being a gardener. I realized there was a reason for doing things, and I started to care about the plants versus just cleaning up.
What was your primary role/job title there?
It was pretty all encompassing. As the gardener, I took care of a range of plants from raspberry canes to a curly walnut tree.
By chance I was assigned to the lavender house, and since I take pride in everything I do, I began to see myself as, “The Lavender Protector”.
You’ve got some really interesting varieties in your garden here.
Yes, besides the yellow lavender, there’s the “Wings of Night” for example. I planted it in our first year here.
With Spanish lavenders, you’ve got to cut out the dead stuff early in order to push energy towards healthy growth. Also never cut into the woody growth of a lavender.
Have you made any big changes since you moved in?
I reclaimed an area around the front door over the last few years. It was kind of boring, so I snuck in some lilies and irises and it’s becoming more interesting now.
I think what makes art, art is the intent of it.
I have to ask, because I think you might be just as into your tools as I am. What are your favorites?
I prefer to use hand tools. This sickle has really saved my wrists over the years. And of course, my pruning saw. It makes such beautifully precise cuts.
And what does your garden say about you?
It says I am renting. I do not own this property. No, just kidding.
I really relate to the gardening style, to the theme. I like themes, whether they be blue, red or whatever. I like to think I have a theme to my life which is, “be yo’self”. And one more thing as it relates to gardening, or why people garden…
I feel strongly that while I’m gardening. I’m one of the best possible versions of myself. I’m not burning a stump with oil, I’m planting a blue flower.
“The best possible version of myself”…I think all of us gardeners can relate to that. Hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into Richard and Anthony’s amazing garden. I know I have. Happy Wednesday Friends!