Details are key to beauty of garden on Snohomish tour

  • Fri Aug 27th, 2010 8:28pm
  • Life

By Sarah Jackson Herald Writer

When you walk through Fred Rowe and Ed Poquette’s garden, everything seems complete, finished.

Each plant fits its assigned spot perfectly. Colors, textures, shapes and sizes sing in harmony with nearby waterfalls, ponds, statues, gates, arbors and trellises.

That’s no mistake.

Visitors to this half-acre oasis on Sunday for the 26th annual Snohomish Garden Club tour will find one of the most painstakingly maintained, well-edited gardens in Snohomish County.

Rowe, a retired dentist and the self-proclaimed head gardener, has a unique gardening philosophy: “All the plants in this garden are on wheels and have visas.”

When a shrub is too gangly or overgrown, it gets cut back, moved or booted entirely.

And not just any plant is approved for entry.

Poquette, a professionally trained garden designer who works at Emery’s Garden in Lynnwood, is allowed to make suggestions.

But Rowe, who has more free time and does the majority of the grunt work, exerts full veto power over design and plant selection decisions.

“I’m constantly offering plants for inclusion that are denied entry into the garden,” said Poquette, who is also president of the Snohomish Garden Club. “And that is particularly tough on me, since I’m almost daily finding treasures at the nursery that I want to include in our garden.”

Though such decisions aren’t always easy for the men, they have similar enough tastes to design effectively by committee, Rowe said.

And, as a result, their plants work together, rather than fight.

When Rowe and Poquette bought their property outside Snohomish five years ago, it came with a professionally designed landscape, including a deck surrounding a large pond and a natural rock waterfall.

The previous homeowners had also put in numerous sought-after trees and shrubs, including Japanese maples, conifers and a two-story peeling-bark cherry tree that presides over the back yard.

But, of course, the men had to make the garden their own.

They renovated extensively, adding more of everything, including conifers and a lot more perennials, effectively turning the garden from a low-maintenance landscape to a high-maintenance garden with numerous ornamental grasses, day lilies and irises.

They also revamped the front yard, which was mostly lawn, by adding a fascinating tree walk and a tapestry of perennials, including heucheras and hostas, and blue, green and gray grasses, all planted in an enchanting pattern.

“Lots of things were just green. We expanded the color palette,” Rowe said. “This is a year-round garden. There’s always something interesting.”

They also added statuary, including three Frank Lloyd Wright reproductions: a contemplative garden sprite standing at the end of a path in the back yard, plus Nakoma and Nakomis, the matriarch and patriarch of an American Indian family.

One of Rowe’s favorite tricks is using different colors found in flowers, foliage and even twigs to create a symphony of color.

Numerous plants pick up the copper-red bark color of the peeling cherry tree, for example, including heucheras, metallic brown grasses, day lilies and ruby-colored euphorbia stems.

Blue conifers play off each other throughout the garden. Yellow grasses and conifers do the same.

It’s not all monochromatic schemes: Delicate pink and yellow roses ramble near a side path along with intermingled sprays of a purple-flowering hardy geranium, Johnson’s Blue.

Next to the deck, in what Rowe calls the septic garden, a veritable forest of bright red Lucifer crocosmia attracts hummingbirds. Red gladiolas will come up soon to match, along with yellow glads with red throats.

“I’m a colorist,” Rowe said.

You’d never know the septic tank was just a foot or so below the surface plants, which can be dug up when maintenance is needed.

Rowe and Poquette converted a vegetable garden that had become shady under maturing trees into a fire pit area surrounded by Adirondack chairs and ship’s lanterns.

They remodeled the formal knot garden of boxwood and barberry by relocating the roses and replacing them with four types of clematis for a more vertical element.

Where a failed rock fountain once stood in the center of the knot garden, they created a shrine to Princess Diana, a hot-pink, clematis that climbs to a large blue globe at the top of the trellis.

Poquette said his favorite thing about their retreat is how easy it is to see and hear much of their prized garden from inside their 1980s rambler, including views from their living and dining rooms, kitchen and bedroom.

“You’re part of the garden,” he said, adding that he enjoys watching Rowe create magical scenes, too. “Fred is the super gardener. He has a real gift.”


Nichols Bros. Stoneworks at 20209 Broadway in Snohomish is an exclusive, specially licensed manufacturer of Frank Lloyd Wright designed planters, garden statuary and stoneware, including the statues featured in the Snohomish garden of Fred Rowe and Ed Poquette. Learn more at or call 800-483-5720.

Flower tip: If you love irises, don’t limit yourself to bearded varieties. Siberian, Japanese and Pacific coast irises feature smaller straplike leaves that look more likes ornamental grasses after their flowers have passed. Try them for added interest, greenery and excitement in your late-summer garden.

Snohomish garden tour

What, where: The Snohomish Garden Club’s 26th annual garden tour will feature nine local gardens in and around Snohomish.

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Cost: Tickets, $12, are for sale at Joyworks, Kusler’s Pharmacy, McDaniel’s Do-It Center, McAuliffe’s Valley Nursery, Machias Nursery and Annie’s on First, all in Snohomish; Sunnyside Nursery of Marysville, Emery’s Garden of Lynnwood, My Garden Nursery of Bothell and Molbak’s of Woodinville.

Tickets also will be available between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. the day of the tour at the Snohomish Library, 311 Maple Ave., Snohomish.

Information: Call 425-374-8622 or see www.snohomish for details.

Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037,