Contemporary Evergreens

The clients for this design had one major request, “we don’t want any deciduous, messy stuff”.  The plant palette had to consist of mostly evergreen and some semi-evergreen species, while maintaining a clean, contemporary design.

The vertical, rectilinear forms of the facade were softened by a number of sculptural weeping evergreens, such as the Cedrus lebani ‘Pendula’ (right).  Mexican feather and Blue fescue grasses provide year-round interest and a contemporary quality within the planting beds.




For more images, click here….


Along the East edge of the house, we used 4′ wide corrugated culvert sections as bamboo planters, surrounded by tassle ferns, grasses, and spreading yews.  The brilliant red Gulf Stream Nandinas lend a striking touch of color to the blend of evergreens.

This project was an exceptional experience due to the good humor and casual nature of my clients.  I also really enjoyed working along side their awesome architect, Emily Buchwalter, with Medici Architects.



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Lushing up a shade garden

40-50 year old rhodys shade this small hillside that slopes to a walkway in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, along the kitchen and dining room.  A palette of 3 hosta varieties, 2 fern varieties, acuba, white bleeding heart, japanese forest grass, dogwood bunchberry, and hydrangea were chosen to create seasonal and year-round intrest – painting a large splash of vibrant green tones through the picture windows.


After (with a few that still need to be put in the ground):

Just wait until it really fills in!

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Home Sweet-Sustainable-Cottage Home…

Rendering by Stacy Hsu and Shannon Eldredge

The Cottages at Redondo project is slated to be the first of its kind for the City of Federal Way.  The City has been working with our development team to promote the building of multiple, small footprint dwelling units on single family zoned lots.  The Cottage at Redondo will be considered a “demonstration project” by the City – ulitmately attracting the interest of the media, city planners, architects, designers, and especially environmentally-conscious buyers!

The philosophy behind the design and layout of The Cottages at Redondo revolves around simplified living.  We strove to design homes and shared amenities that satisfy basic needs, yet encourage an active, healthy, community-based lifestyle.   Each cottage is considered a “fee simple,” single dwelling unit with two bedrooms,  two bathrooms, an open kitchen/living/dining space, and of course, a quaint front porch facing the common lawn.  Each floorplan measures out to approximately 1,100 square feet and each cottage has its own detatched and enclosed garage space.

The site is located at 18th Ave. South, near 296th St. in Federal Way, WA.  It’s proximity to basic amenities, public transportation, and local recreational facilities (including Redondo Beach), are all within a 1/2 mile radius of the property.  Major transportation routes are under 4 miles from door to on-ramp.

Tom Sawyer Enterprises, Inc., the property owner and manager of the development team, have crafted this project to be a simple “kit-of-parts” for other developers and investors to take to the next phase, which is building.



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“Stumped” by a spring bloomer at Greenlake

I decided to take a little stroll around Greenlake this morning to check out the trace of snow and identify a few colorful bloomers I’ve noticed on my runs.

One tree in particular had me racking my brain (back to plants notes, “now where did I see this on the campus”??)….

After a close examination, I noticed this small, rounded, branchy little tree with bright yellow clusters of flowers (opposite branching) was a cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas)!









Some notes on the Cornus mas: This species of dogwood is hardy from zones 4-8, grows 15-20′ wide x 20-25′ tall, and takes sun to partial shade.  It’s quite adaptable, easily transplanted, and is fairly disease and insect resistant.  Native to Southern Europe and Southwest Asia.

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actual site entry


Rainscreen added, retaining wall painted, & plants planted!

We still have a few finishing touches for this front entry… my client would like to replace the first 16′ of the driveway with a pervious paver (which will be extremely helpful for the amount of runoff and ground water they get on this site).  We will also be installing a metal gate at the end of the rainscreen fencing… looking for ideas!  Please comment/post if you have any examples of metal gateways or connections to Seattle based suppliers/designers.

Here’s a close up of one of my favorite winter bloomers we used in the front: Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’.


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Plant day at the Medina Project!

Plant placement

We’re getting closer and closer to finishing up the entry/driveway on the Medina Project!

I visited the largest plant nursery I’ve ever seen today, in Woodinville, WA – Vibrant Plants.  It was an overwhelmingly awesome experience!  Of course, I spent way too many hours milling around, finding all kinds of wonderful new cultivars!!  One of my favorites of the season: Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’….blooms from January through April!  A gorgeous subtle, woodland, winter-blooming flower.

This all came together quite quickly, so I had to whip up a rough planting plan while running around the nursery.

quick sketch of planting plan

A few other highlights from my planting list: Sedum x ‘Angelina’, Pieris japonica ‘Pink Flamingo’, Erica c. ‘King George’, Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’…

Pretty soon I’ll be posting pics of these plants in the ground and a new pervious paver driveway!

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Rainscreens – how do they work?

Patty – thanks for your question!  This is exactly why I wanted to get this blog up and running.

To answer your question about rainscreens… it’s an exterior application of horizontal wood paneling, mounted slightly off the base wall (with a weather proof membrane underneath).  This system is supposed to “screen” most of the rain and moisture away from the house while allowing air to circulate between the layers.

This website gives an informative explanation…check it out!

Rainscreen technology diagram. Source:







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