David Brown (left) and Michael Hrankowski relax with their dog, Zoey, in their garden in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

David Brown (left) and Michael Hrankowski relax with their dog, Zoey, in their garden in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A midcentury Edmonds home gets a new garden — from scratch

Formerly an overgrown mess, it’s now one of six showpieces on the Edmonds in Bloom tour next weekend.

The garden surrounding their midcentury home was overgrown.

And that garden, one stop on next weekend’s annual Edmonds in Bloom tour, began with a total remodel.

“We basically cleared the lot of 90% of all vegetation and started from scratch,” said Michael Harankowski, who shared the garden-planning duties with his husband, David Brown. “The garden basically is only a year old.”

How did they decide where to begin on the project?

“That’s a big question,” Brown said. It started with how the house is situated and the land is contoured.

Next, figuring out the hardscape — walkways and retaining walls — following by drainage and lighting, he said.

Then find answers to issues such as whether you want a vegetable garden and, if so, whether it should be integrated into a garden or set up in a separate space.

A strip of lawn leads to a side garden. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A strip of lawn leads to a side garden. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Overall, they wanted landscaping that wouldn’t obscure the home, which was built in 1959.

The front yard is planted with a sea of about 200 grass plants, including blue fescue.

Next comes a mixture of rhododendrons, ferns, blueberries and hostas.

The lawn area is planted in a mix of grasses, clover and wildflowers. The clover fixes nitrogen in the soil, so artificial fertilizers aren’t needed, Harankowski said.

It’s drought tolerant, so you don’t have to use as much water as with a typical lawn, and you don’t need to mow it more than a couple times a year, he said.

The back of the property includes a garden shed, hot tub, covered and uncovered patio area and a deck made from Alaskan cedar.

A vegetable bed on one side of the house is planted with sugar snap peas, kale, bush beans, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, garlic and tomatoes.

Lettuce grows in vegetable beds, which also are planted with sugar snap peas, kale, bush beans, cucumbers, carrots, garlic and tomatoes. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lettuce grows in vegetable beds, which also are planted with sugar snap peas, kale, bush beans, cucumbers, carrots, garlic and tomatoes. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Neither Brown nor Harankowski have formal training in landscape design. Instead they looked for plants they liked aesthetically.

“We took a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and looking at various types of gardens,” Harankowski said. They estimate that they’ve added 1,000 plants to the property.

Some trees and plants that were in the yard, such as a coral bark maple were kept, and planned for in the landscape design.

They say they can guess what will catch the eye of many garden tour visitors — the gunnera.

With leaves at least 3 feet across, it’s sometimes called the “dinosaur plant.” “Kids love it,” Brown said.

A gunnera, also known as the dinosaur plant, stands almost as tall as the house behind it. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A gunnera, also known as the dinosaur plant, stands almost as tall as the house behind it. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Other stops on the 24th annual garden tour include:

A garden designed by a former nursery worker, with a rain garden in the back yard and a dwarf redwood on the patio.

A couple who began their gardening 24 years ago when they purchased their home. They have an aviary that is home to four doves and two pheasants.

A garden with rock and stone work, garden art and statuary, vegetable beds and a wooded area beyond the deck with a stairway that leads to a ravine with plantings on the slope above.

A home with a back yard as a wildlife sanctuary and with big-leaf maples overhead and Japanese maples beneath. Other plantings include fuchsias, ferns and meadow rue.

A bee pollinates a lavender flower in David Brown and Michael Hrankowski’s garden in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A bee pollinates a lavender flower in David Brown and Michael Hrankowski’s garden in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

An example of how a small urban lot, with some careful planning, can have space for entertaining, relaxing and growing food. It has vertical and horizontal plantings, a water fountain and raised garden beds.

Proceeds from last year’s tour supported community projects such as a student garden at College Place Elementary School, the hanging baskets and street corner gardens in Edmonds, and provided a scholarship for an Edmonds Community College student majoring in horticulture.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

The Edmonds in Bloom garden tour is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 21. Tickets, $15 in advance, or $20 at the first garden on the day of the tour, are available at www.edmondsinbloom.com. Tickets also are sold at in Edmonds at Bountiful Home, 122 Fourth Ave. S.; Frances Anderson Center, 700 Main St.; and Garden Gear, 102 Fifth Ave. N., as well as at Sky Nursery, 8528 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline.

Mukilteo Quilt & Garden Tour

Mukilteo’s self-guided tour is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 20 and 21. See eight residential gardens and the indoor display of more than 100 quilts at Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo. Advance tickets are $15, or $20 day of event. Go to www.mukilteogardenandquilttour.org for more information.

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