Gardening inspiration

Ray and Sandi Oram make a good gardening team.

They should.

They’ve been digging in the dirt, weeding and planting their hearts out in Edmonds for more than 25 years. They’ve also been renovating their home, garage and outdoor living spaces all those years.

And the result is an escape that positively drips with charm and character.

On July 17, the Orams will open their quaint cottage garden and large fruit and vegetable-growing haven to the public as part of the 16th annual self-guided garden tour, Edmonds in Bloom.

Their garden — which they’ve dubbed The Orams’ Earthly Oasis — will be one of two featured on their quiet picturesque, almost secret, little street, Seamont Lane, not far from downtown Edmonds.

“We were married here at the house,” Sandi Oram said. “We started building the garden together. We work together.”

When the couple moved into the home, a former bachelor pad, most of the small front yard was covered in gravel for use as a parking area.

Today that space is covered in rich soil and a stunning lushness of roses, peonies, hardy blue geraniums, ajuga and woolly thyme.

Two small deck areas, both designed and built by Ray Oram, 60, make for easy relaxation: a curved front porch and a larger, more private deck off the kitchen.

Their kitchen deck is surrounded by a large evergreen clematis, where a mother robin raised her babies this spring. Nearby, three white-barked Himalayan birch trees — planted close together to make a little grovelet — soar more than 50 feet high to create a bit of morning shade.

Leading from the kitchen deck to the back yard is a shade garden and a river of rock that serves as a rambling path in summer and a natural channel for heavy rains in winter.

Each of the stones was unearthed from the property as part of everyday weeding and cultivating.

In the back yard, an area once buried in towering weeds contains a nine-bush blueberry grove, a strawberry strip next to a chain-link fence, and 14 raised vegetable beds.

Against the east side of the garage, ornamental wonders include huge, happy hostas and a honeysuckle climbing a 1½-story custom-made trellis set back about a foot from the building to keep the vine from damaging or discoloring the structure.

All the plant displays and unique vignettes here marry beautifully with the Orams’ home, a simple but updated 1953 cottage painted lavender gray and trimmed with forest green, eggplant purple and bright white.

Ray Oram, a professional painter, chose the palette for a refreshing change of pace from the many neutrals and beiges he often employs in his work.

The Orams’ mailbox is a rich magenta red, the perfect foil to the softer hues. On the deck off the kitchen, a restored table base painted the same vibrant hue sits next to an eggplant purple bench with purple, green and red striped cushions.

Visitors here who are interested in drip irrigation systems and rainwater collection will find practical examples of both.

Irrigation lines feed the many vegetable beds and two 750 gallon tanks collect water from the roof of the property’s free-standing garage to help water the rest of the garden.

Sandi Oram, 70, said they use up the collected water surprisingly fast.

Container gardening fans will find visual delights here, including old wooden chairs planted with perennials and annuals and, right out front, three perfect pots of black-eyed Susans.

Sometime this summer, the bright yellow, daisylike flowers will pop out dramatically against the lavender house.

Sandi Oram said they can’t wait to share their home and garden.

“I get to be an artist in my own environment,” she said, adding that living in the beloved city of Edmonds makes their lifestyle just that much richer.

“We didn’t buy a house. We bought a lifestyle,” she said. “It’s just really special.”

Take the tour

What: The Edmonds in Bloom 16th annual self-guided garden tour will feature seven private gardens in Edmonds.

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 17.

Cost: Tickets, which include maps, are $15 at the Frances Anderson Center, Bountiful Home and Garden Gear, all in Edmonds; Emery’s Garden and Wight’s Home & Garden, both in Lynnwood; and Sky Nursery in Shoreline.

Info: Call 425-774-3460 or go to

Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037,

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