Masterful gardening

  • By Debra Smith / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, May 30, 2007 9:00pm
  • Life

C LEARVIEW – For Barbara Rogers, gardening is taking what nature gave her and making it a little better.

And nature has been kind.

Her Clearview home brims with native trees, ferns and salal. From those, she and husband Andy shaped a tranquil woodland garden with a tinkling stream, quiet places to sit and many shade-tolerant plants.

Visitors can tour the Rogerses’ garden on June 9, the first of four days this summer that the Snohomish County Master Gardeners show off their personal gardens.

The Master Gardeners are the volunteers who dispense free gardening advice to the public at the county extension office and community clinics.

The more than dozen gardens on the four days feature a variety of styles.

Rogers, 54, estimated she works in the garden about 20 hours a week, on top of a work schedule that sometimes exceeds 60 hours. She loves it.

“I know a lot of people think gardening is drudgery,” she said. “But for me, this is therapy.”

She is the master gardener in the house, but she gets creative input from her youngest daughter, Lauren Rogers, and from her husband, Andy. She calls him “Mr. Improvement.”

Barbara Rogers shared how they’ve transformed what used to be raw land into a woodland garden.

The Rogerses’ garden serves as a tranquil retreat, and they can enjoy the garden from half a dozen vantage points. They’ve added spots throughout to relax and take in the view, including sturdy twig benches and a fire pit. Focal points, sometimes plants, sometimes art, allow visitors to catch a view of something unexpected.

Finding interesting plants for a shady yard is no easy feat, and Rogers has found interesting plants for parts of her yard that are either soggy or dry. She opted for plants with interesting foliage rather than filling the garden with flashier blooms.

Some plants have variegated leaves while others offer unusual textures and forms. Plants with burgundy, coral, chartreuse and yellow foliage pop in the beds, keeping the woodland garden from looking like a mass of green. Visitors will spot trillium, epimedium, astilibe, hosta and corydalis.

The couple love the look and sound of running water, so they added several water features, including a small pond and a stream with river rock.

They built the stream with a pump that recirculates the water. It took three tries before the stream functioned properly, despite their extensive research. Mountain beavers and moles kept tearing holes through the flimsy pond liner they bought. Barbara Rogers recommends buying an extra thick rubber pond liner in one solid piece.

Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or

Shade tolerant plants that brighten dry areas:

Epimedium cherry tart: pretty leaves with red edges and orange flowers

Lamium Nancy Reagan: variegated white and green leaves with yellow flowers

Plants that handle moist, shade conditions:

Columbine: One of those plants that is cheery and it reminds Andy Rogers of his native Colorado

Heuchera caramel: brightens up the darker places with an pinky-orange foliage

Hakonechloa: bright chartreuse leaves on this grass

Corydalis berry exciting: brightens dark, damp corners of the garden

Lysimachia golden Alexander: variegated green-and-white leaves and yellow flowers

Lysimachia aurea: evergreen perennial ground cover with golden yellow leaves

Most garden tours last one day. Buy a ticket for the tour put on by the Snohomish County Master Gardeners and get four days of tours throughout the summer.

The first is June 9, featuring gardens in Snohomish and Woodinville. Visit gardens in Lake Stevens and Marysville June 30; Edmonds, Lynnwood, Brier and Seattle July 21; and Everett, Sultan, Monroe July 28. Gardens are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Four public demonstration gardens throughout the county also will be available to tour goers.

Tickets cost $25 and $10 for Master Gardeners, and can be purchased at the Washington State University Extension Office, 600 128th St. SE, Everett. Tickets also are available by mail. Send a check along with two 41-cent stamps per ticket to SCMGF 2007 Tours, 5207 69th Drive NE, Marysville, WA 98270. For more information, call 425-338-2400.

Dee Monpetit, Snohomish: A cottage-style garden surrounds a 1950s farmhouse. Lots of color and secret garden spaces to explore.

Theda Houck, Woodinville: See a variety of plants in this acre garden, including many hardy fuschias and hydrangeas.

Gordon Nettles, Arlington: Rhododendrons, Japanese maples, dahlias and roses are co-stars in this garden.

Lindsay Person, Lake Stevens: A country property with apiary, large pond and organic gardens. This gardener’s many collections include lilies, roses, dahlias, heather, sedums and euphorbia. The Washington State Beekeepers Association will be there to answer questions and inspect a live hive.

Sheila McKinnon, Lake Stevens: The family’s landmark century-old house is surrounded by a garden that includes a mixed garden accentuated with old farm implements. The acreage around the home is planted with Christmas trees.

Kathryn Hack, Marysville: See what a master gardener can do with a brand new landscape and three years. Find here a private outdoor living space, secluded pathways and beautiful plants.

Sharon Collman, Seattle: Collman is an entomologist so it’s no surprise her garden is as much a retreat for her as it is for the bugs and birds. Explore a city landscape with a diversity of plants, a snag tree, a bog garden with carnivorous plants, and a small alpine garden.

Grace King, Brier: An eclectic garden with edibles including a grape arbor, apple tree, and blueberries, as well as a dry stream bed and a drought tolerant bed.

Kimberly Alguard, Lynnwood: A more formal landscape with evergreens, perennials, annuals and spring bulbs laid out by color, height and texture. The design highlights dahlias, this gardener’s favorite.

Terry Horstman, Woodway: Lots of beauty packed into this newly-planted garden, including roses, fuchsias, a small vineyard with pinot noir vines and a garden designed around the color wheel.

Roxanne Husmann, Sultan: This 23-acre garden and orchard is a favorite spot for local weddings. The property features views of the mountains, a stream with a bridge, a barn and a camping site with a tree house.

Martha Dankers, Monroe: A small 16-acre farm with perennials, native plants and vegetables as well as sheep, llamas and chickens. The property includes terraced basalt rock walls, a water feature and an organic vegetable garden.

Kirsten Vatheuer, Monroe: The landscape around this Spanish revival home has undergone a complete makeover. This gardener’s ambitious plans included adding a masonry wall, slate walkways and steps, a brick patio, new beds, large pots and fountains.

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