Garden Makeover winners putter with potted items

LANDSCAPE TAKES SHAPE: Teresa Anderson of Bellingham plants a rose bush under the supervision of Herald gardening columnist George Kaas. JAY DROWNS HERALD PHOTO

Garden makeover winners Dave and Teresa Anderson wrestle a hydrangea plant into its new home in their Cliffside Drive yard. PHILIP A. DWYER HERALD PHOTOS

Stacee Sledge
For the Bellingham Herald

Dave and Teresa Anderson of Bellingham have been hard at work on their Cliffside Drive yard since winning the Herald Garden Makeover in April.

Following the advice of Herald garden columnist George Kaas, they're transforming a plain yard with a spectacular bay view into a haven for relaxation and entertainment.

For the fourth month of our six-month series following the couple's garden makeover, Kaas pointed the way for the proper planning and placement of container plants.

Last month, Teresa plugged a plethora of plants into the empty flower beds running along the side of their property. They ranged from rose bushes, perennials and ground cover to a passel of herbs conveniently placed just steps from the kitchen door.

Teresa has bonded with employees at many area nurseries, including Bakerview, Kent's, and the Gardens at Padden Creek.

"Nobody in their right mind would go to the nursery with me," Teresa laughs, recalling a recent garden center trip with her mother-in-law, "Because I just stand there, thinking. They recognize me at Bakerview now. They're probably thinking, 'Oh, here she is again!'"

Growth Patterns

For the past four months, Herald garden columnist George Kaas has guided garden makeover winners Dave and Teresa Anderson in creating a design for their north Bellingham waterfront yard.

When we last checked in with the couple, they had finished a down-and-dirty month of amending soil and readying empty beds for plants. While important, it yielded little in the way of visual development. Dave, for one, is happy to see the more obvious fruits of this month's labor.

"Now is the fun time because you actually see the results," says Dave. "It's changed pretty substantially. Teresa's basically got all the plants in now and it's really starting to take shape."


Planning and placement have been the biggest obstacles for Teresa. Once Kaas worked out where each plant should be positioned, she was off and running. "Once there's structure there, I can add to it or tweak it," says Teresa, "but I just didn't know what to do with that totally blank bed."

Kaas began by placing large decorative rocks that hold dirt in place and give shape to a footpath trailing through the long flowerbed. The Andersons are rock collectors and Kaas wanted to highlight some of their treasures. Many of the rocks used were found on memorable hikes or fishing trips.

"Anytime Dave and I go someplace, I make him haul big rocks home," Teresa laughs. Dave, always looking at the positive side, explains, "It's good exercise."

Teresa appreciates Dave's willingness to shift the sizeable stones. "The minute he gets home from a 12-hour shift, I'm like, 'Oh, honey, could you move these rocks?'"

Dave is forced to do a fair amount of standing around with his arms crossed, watching Teresa think. "She'll say, 'Ah, it's got to go to the right about two more inches, now back to the left a little bit,'" Dave laughs. "I'm kind of the hired hand."

George placed most of the material for the side bed of perennials and flowers for cutting, as well as some shrubs, to create an illusion of slope and elevation change without making the bed too difficult to maneuver and maintain.

Material was strategically placed for viewing, flowering impact, cascade and fragrance. "Plant placement is like paint," says George. "Sometimes you just know where it's got to go and how thick to spread it." George says it's best to keep groupings in odd numbers and not follow a straight line.

"We've put in about 75 plants so far over the past three weeks," says Teresa. "That's a lot of plants, and a big investment."


Helping with that investment was an unexpected surprise. Teresa, a teacher at Harmony Elementary School who volunteers her time with the school's Math Olympiad, was touched to receive a generous gift certificate to Kent's Nursery & Garden from last year's team. "Those students are very special to me," she says, "and now I'll have such a beautiful reminder of them."

Teresa has come to see gardening as an apt metaphor for teaching. "You amend the soil and try to create the healthiest environment for growth," she says. "You learn what each plant needs to thrive. You nurture that growth, maybe prune a little, and the growth, the bloom, comes at different seasons and in incredibly different forms."

Another purchase has been an escalonia shrub, as Teresa's mother, who passed away a year ago this month, had several at her home. "I've planted that to be viewed from my kitchen window," says Teresa. "It serves as a backdrop for a beautiful rose bush that Dave's parents bought for us as a reminder of my mom. It's called "Cherish."

Other much-appreciated gift certificates were given by friends and the couple's church as memorial gifts to buy plants in honor of Teresa's mother. "I'm using those gifts to buy a dogwood tree, because she always loved dogwoods," says Teresa. "I think I'll place that outside our bedroom window; I often sit and pray looking out that window."

Stacee Sledge is a Bellingham freelance writer.

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