"I cried when we moved in the house," she said. "We were so poor we couldn't afford anything else. The trim was brown, but it had faded so much it was purple."
She looked forward to the day they could move out.
The overgrown back yard was a landmine. "We found batteries and an old plastic Christmas tree buried in the yard," she said. "They had dumped diesel oil in one corner. My husband bought a wheel barrow and there was so much nails and crap in the ground he had three flat tires."
She and her husband, Bill, got right on it and kept going. They transformed the dilapidated dump into a showplace.
Their garden will be on the Edmonds in Bloom Garden Tour on Sunday. The six gardens on the self-guided tour reflect the diversity of the region, from a tranquil Zen garden to rare species rhododendrons and raised vegetable beds overflowing with produce.
"Serenity and calmness" is how Sharon Grader describes her secluded backyard retreat.
"We have created rooms," she said. "We do get sun, but it's in different places depending on the time of day.
A brick path under the tall trees winds under a trellis and through to a mix of different textures.
A commissioned artist did the front gate on the 11,000-square-foot property.
"It's eclectic. It is kind of Asian, but we have palm trees," she said. "We like what we like, and that's what we buy. It doesn't have to be matchy-matchy."
It helps that husband and wife are on the same page. He's a carpenter with the Seattle parks department. She's a graphics designer at Parsons Brinckerhoff.
"We both like lots of different shades of green," Sharon Grader said. "It isn't like a crazy quilt with so many colors."
The textures have a soothing flow that adds to the harmony.
Tall stalks of bamboo tower over a fence. Fuchsias pop with color.
Much of the glass and pottery accents have a blue theme.
Empty blue Riesling wine bottles hang from trees.
"I saw an ad on TV for Absolut Vodka. It was a wall of frosted bottles, hundreds and hundreds of them. I thought it was so cool," she said.
"We drink white Riesling. I'm a creative person, so I can make leaps to all sorts of places. I thought we could do that with blue bottles. I cut the bottoms off with a tile saw, and we strung them up.
"It is one of those things people comment about and find interesting."
Another point of interest is a big fiberglass cat.
"I saw it at a nursery and said, 'That's what I want for my birthday,'" she said.
Her husband brought it home strapped to the passenger seat.
He built the potting shed using recycled material. Leftover bricks were used for paving.
"The only really new stuff is the fencing," she said.
There is seating in the garden as well as on the expansive deck spanning the back of the home.
"We remodeled the house, popped it out, enlarged the kitchen, added a bedroom and put in French doors," she said.
Oh, what a difference 22 years makes. You couldn't pay her to move now if you tried.
"We just want to come home. We don't want to go out and do anything," she said. "It's easy to just grab a glass of wine or a beer. Go sit and read a book or the paper. It's just very peaceful."
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edmonds in Bloom
The self-guided tour on Sunday features six gardens in Edmonds and Woodway.
Tickets are available in advance and on tour day at Sky Nursery, Swansons Nursery, Wight's Home and Garden, Plant Shack, Bountiful Home, Frances Anderson Center and Garden Gear.
The address of the first garden will be available at www.edmondsinbloom.com on Saturday afternoon. Tickets will also be sold at the first garden.
For more information, go to www.edmondsinbloom.com or call 425-409-9195.
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