Bridle Trails Modern Farmhouse Garden

My two clients, Debra and Ramona moved to Seattle from Carmel, California, looking for a relaxed contemporary private home. They were searching for lots of outdoor entertainment space and roaming for their three diva dogs. This garden would reflect their modern aesthetic. 

To reflect the modern style of the house, we first created a spacious skylit Ipe hardwood deck with quartz fire pit, and a whimsical beach spa space next to it. Accenting this, we planted Karl Foerster grass, hellebores, dwarf conifers and high mountain granite boulders that connect to a random bluestone path.


The long undulating planting bed of Annabelle, Limelight hydrangeas and Stewartia cascades down the lawn to reach a focal view of Mt. Rainier in the distance. The beds transition to white birch, Physocarpus ‘Coppertina’, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and Cotinus ‘Royal Purple’.


The highlight of the garden includes a series of curving steel retaining walls that have been strategically placed to capture and direct rainwater through the property. These tiered walls include a palette of relaxed drought-tolerant plantings that include Acer ‘Twombleys red sentinel’ standing as focal points across the top of the walls.  Tucked in to the walls are Phormium ‘carousel’, Bergenia ‘Rose glow’, Calluna ‘firefly’ and Perovskia ‘blue jean baby’.  Other plants include Carex testacea and Rhaphiolepis u.‘Minor’.


Above the steel walls, are a series of custom steel planters supporting a plethora of seasonal vegetables and herbs. The whimsical five-foot Terra trellis bean tower stands sentinel in the planters and has a built in nest for avian visitors.

The steel walls surround the adjunct guest house which has a series of patio spaces. The central space has a graceful curvilinear strip etched into the concrete surface and inset with Mexican pebbles. This curve mirrors a 12” pebbled edge that doubles as a water catchment along the border of the retaining wall garden.

 As the patio and walls curve around the house, the patio transitions to a modern dimensional paver design inset with the same Mexican pebbles as well as tufts of bright sage ground covers. This side of the patio is bordered by a massive drift of blue fescue on one side and steel planters lushly filled with ‘Little lime’ hydrangeas and contrasting black and burgundy plantings. 

The garden continues back to the main house with a decorative screen and paths returning to the house.

Robin ParsonsComment