Bill and Carol Arkell installed a TV outdoors at their home. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Bill and Carol Arkell installed a TV outdoors at their home. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Rambler’s back yard is a little slice of Mill Creek heaven

MILL CREEK — The back yard of the 1987 rambler survived two active boys, hundreds of neighbor kids and the trampling of dogs.

Now it’s a peaceful retreat for Bill and Carol Arkell, fortified with landscaped greenery, flowers, a fire pit and a soothing water feature.

“It’s our little bit of heaven,” Carol said. “It’s nature. It’s quiet. The birds sing.”

Unless, of course, the birds are drowned out by the Mariners game or Food Network show on the big Samsung TV mounted above the waterfall.

The Arkells have the best of both worlds in the great outdoors. They can enjoy the nice weather with 900 channels at the ready.

The public can walk around and sit a spell in the backyard oasis on the June 24 Mill Creek Garden Tour. The self-guided tour has six homes with different themes.

The Arkells’ home backs to a greenbelt in the Sun Rose neighborhood. A stone path in the yard winds around the back through the trees of what they call “Sun Rose Heaven.”

The couple moved in 30 years ago when their sons were 1 and 3.

The yard had a swing set, playhouse, basketball hoop and all the trimmings while raising the boys.

The playhouse is now a storage house for deck stuff during the winter and plants bloom where the balls once bounced.

“After the swing set left, we had a landscaper come in and he was the one who suggested putting in the pathway in the back, and at the same time he put in a sprinkler system,” Carol said. “He transplanted a Japanese maple and rhodies. The landscaper is what we needed. We didn’t know what we were doing. We have since maintained it and added some things to the yard.”

Carol wanted to recreate a garden like the one from her childhood growing up in Edmonds. She said she wishes her parents, Anne and Wally Nelskog, were alive to see her yard now.

“My mom loved gardening,” she said. “My dad was a pioneer in radio in Everett (he owned KQTY-AM) and in Seattle. I started working for him out of high school. The rest is history.”

Carol had a long career in the radio business, most recently as the traffic manager for Salem Media Group in Seattle.

“I just recently retired,” she said, “and when I was working, I would come home after sitting in traffic for an hour and just sit in my back yard. Especially after seeing concrete and gray all day, it’s just nice to come back here.”

“It’s a sanctuary,” said Bill, who retired as president and owner of Pacific West Coast Sales, a heavy duty manufacturing business. He was on the Glacier Peak High School football coaching staff and, prior to that, spent many years with the Archbishop Murphy High School Athletic Booster Club.

Bill replaced the sprawling wooden deck with composite materials. One side has the grill and large dining table, with easy access to the kitchen. It flows around to an area with more seating around a fire pit by the waterfall and TV.

A door from the master bedroom leads to this “TV room.” The fire pit keeps them warm while watching Seahawks games outside.

The deck area stays cool all summer.

“You can almost set your watch. On a day like this you start getting a breeze about 5 o’clock,” Bill said.

Sure enough, at 4:59 p.m. the first flutter was felt.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Other homes on the Mill Creek tour:

Sustainable landscape design: These homeowners removed nine large trees and replaced them with vegetation to create year-round interest and brought the landscape back into proportion with their house. Fruit, vegetables and herbs were added with an appetizing garden that’s also sustainable.

An added attraction: Idaho stepping stone artist Pamela Kiefer will display and sell her unique stepping and wall stones in this garden. She is donating a percentage of her sales to the Mill Creek Garden Club. This is her first showing in the Seattle area.

In the woods: A beautifully redone front garden. The back yard has a new stone patio with a view of the owner-designed berm and natural green belt.

Glass flower collection: Drive by this home and you’d never guess there’s a water view in the back garden — Cherry Pond. Here’s an idea: If you have a very shady spot where plants won’t grow, like this homeowner, install glass flowers as they always look whimsical and never need water.

Peace and tranquility retreat: This garden, designed 29 years ago, includes a Japanese Maple that was an anniversary gift. The U-shaped patio at the back of the house offers plenty of bench seating and is surrounded by rhodies, hostas and ferns in a natural setting.

Cozy retreat in wildflower: These gardeners describe their garden as “always evolving with each season, bringing new ideas and experiments.” Last year it was burgundy and chartreuse plants. Hummingbirds like to bathe in the bubbling stone fountain.

Source: Mill Creek Garden Club

If you go

Mill Creek Garden Club Tour, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 24.

Cost: $15 for all ages.

Tickets available at Li’l Sprout Nursery, 17414 Bothell-Everett Hwy., Mill Creek. Proceeds benefit Mill Creek Garden Club’s Giving through Gardening programs.

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