Cliffside Drive couple wins expert help for garden makeover

By Stacee Sledge
For the Bellingham Herald

After a year of remodeling their home's exterior, Teresa and Dave Anderson were at a loss as to how to tackle the landscaping.


DUE FOR A TRIM: Dave Anderson, Teresa Anderson and Herald gardening columnist George Kaas get a close look at a bushy cypress tree close to the property line. They are considering thinning the tree, reshaping it and exposing its obscured trunk.

So they were among the horticultural hopefuls who entered the second annual Bellingham Herald Garden Makeover Contest last month. Herald gardening columnist George Kaas chose them from nearly 40 entries because their makeover should be both entertaining and educational for area homeowners with similar yard woes.

Teresa's entry letter summed up their dilemma: "The view is spectacular," she wrote, "if you overlook our yard."

The vista from their property is indeed breathtaking, sweeping over the San Juan Islands, the curve of Bellingham Bay, South Hill and the ferry terminal. Five resident eagles soar regularly above their property.

"It's so quiet here," says Dave. "The eagles cruise by all the time."

But the photos they included with their contest entry told the other side of the story: Aside from the amazing view, there isn't much within the confines of their land to tempt a person to stick around.

Under the experienced direction of Kaas, a horticulture teacher at Blaine High School, the couple will devise a landscape plan and complete all the work themselves.

They bring a lot of enthusiasm but little experience to the project. Dave works as an operations technician at the BP Cherry Point Refinery, while Teresa is a teacher at Harmony Elementary School in the Mount Baker School District. Both came to Bellingham Dave in 1977 and Teresa in 1983 to attend Western Washington University. The couple has been married for four years.


GROUND TO BE COVERED: George Kaas (center) suggests flowers with visual appeal and inviting fragrances be planted at the entrance of the Cliffside Drive home of Dave and Teresa Anderson.

Like many Bellingham residents, they enjoy the convenience of living in a small city without urban headaches like traffic and appreciate the easy accessibility to the mountains, lakes and saltwater.

The Andersons enjoy skiing, kayaking and biking but, as Dave explains, "since we bought this house, our outdoor activities have digressed into breaking out concrete, framing up garages, roofing, installing siding, painting and any other remodeling task imaginable."

After spending a year beautifying the exterior façade of their late 1950s-era house north of Bellingham, the Andersons were ready to sort out the yard.

"I need an overall plan," says Teresa. "We don't have a huge piece of property, but it's overwhelming because I don't know how to get started. I'm a good detail person, but I need help with the big picture."

It doesn't help that their neighbor's house is built upon a landscaping masterpiece.

"They've been very, very kind to us," laughs Teresa. "They've been through the whole remodeling thing, so they're very understanding of our mess." But the couple looks forward to cleaning up their "eyesore," and fitting into the neighborhood.

When asked if they're looking for a yard on par with their neighbor's beautiful but high-maintenance landscaping, Teresa laughs: "No. We have kayaks with dust on them and we'd like to eventually use those again."

Stacee Sledge is a Bellingham freelance writer.


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