Fishtail Cottage Garden Journey from 2006 to 2018

My journey of the garden landscape here at Fishtail Cottage began in 2006 when we built our home here in Bothell Washington. I had to do a lot of forward thinking, as starting with a blank slate can be overwhelming.  I focused on my vision as if every inch of the garden was its own room.  I would stand, and sometimes pull up a chair to plan, scheme and dream about what I someday wanted to see.  I would go to different rooms of the house and stare out the windows so I could see what the view from inside would be  - all the while doing my best to focus on only one area at a time.  

I spent hours searching magazines and even more hours online looking at Pinterest for inspiration.  Writing down names of plants, trees and shrubs in a journal and then taking time to research each plant to decide if and where I would put it.  My three youngest kids were 2, 4 and 6 -  so I'd stay up late at night to do the research and make the most of school hours for time spent in working in the garden.  

I drove around neighborhoods to see what was blooming and took photo's of peoples gardens. This was back before I uploaded photo's digitally, so I would print the photo's and bring them into local nurseries who's staff would help me identify the plants in the pictures. I wasn't very seasoned of knowing plants, flowers etc when I first began this garden, I did have some experience from the garden we had in our previous home, but I really wanted to do this yard entirely my way  - The passion to learn kept me motivated and inspired. Honestly my knowledge of what to plant and taking care of what I plant came from trial and error.  

I found that it was way less expensive and easier for me to purchase online  - however when I ordered online I didn't really understand the size that I was ordering and because I was ordering massive quantities - I went with the least expensive option.  When I would receive my plants I would be disappointed that the photo I saw of this massive mature tree I saw online arrived standing only 6" tall.  My family had to laugh at what started out as a miniature garden, much like the ride at Disneyland. 

Here are few snapshots of what the garden looked like in 2006. The only thing I had help with in the beginning was having dirt brought in and laying sod and bark where I wanted it. We also had to hire someone to pour my cement steps where I wanted them. Now don't laugh that I had pots set out and teeny tiny flowers planted before anyone could say "go". 

Immediately we put up the picket fence and I got to planting.  Within the first week I realized I will never put bark in my gardens - I will only put high quality fertile mulch.  Doing so will save my hands, and knees from multiple splinters and will nourish the dirt we paid to have brought in. We also had to terrace an area of the back yard because of rain run off, which has since become my rose terrace. The gravel path along the side is now my flagstone path.  The side yard where you can see the bunny hutch is now my "Secret Garden". 

I've learned that buying small works out in the end because everything will grow.  I've learned that having a vision and being patient is necessary when you want to see your garden grow into something beautiful. I've learned that my favorite garden plants are Bleeding Hearts, Old Roses, Hostas, Heuchra, Bearded Iris and Boxwood.  I've learned not everything should be rounded in shape (which is what my eye was initially attracted to) and that textures of all different shapes should be welcome.  I learned that Evergreens are just as amazing as deciduous plants. I've learned that every landscape needs "good bones" - arbors, birdbath's large trees for focal points.  Garden art is amazing, but not too much, there is a difference between "focal points" in the landscape and "clutter". I've learned that just like rooms in your home, you grow and mature and it's okay to not keep everything - purging and replacing with something new is acceptable.  

I've also learned that this garden of mine has made me a better person. A better friend, wife and mom.  I am a nurturer, and want to try to please everyone, which I've learned is impossible....just as I can't please every plant I've planted.  The garden is my escape to do what comes naturally to me and care for it unconditionally. I've also learned I still have more dreaming to do.

Here are some updated photo's of the garden landscape to see how far it's come since 2006. 

Thank you for coming over to see this newest blog post about my garden journey.  Happy to answer questions & look forward to reading who came to visit. oxox, tracie 


acorn hollow said…
Just amazing!!! wow what a wonderful job so beautiful.
Debbie said…
That was fun to see the beginning pictures. Amazing what you have done and how time will change a garden. Your always so talented with your home and garden. I can tell it is your happy place!
Maribel said…
What a lovely garden you have created.
Have a lovely day /Marika
lala said…
You had incredible vision to plan such a beautiful garden from a large blank slate. Your garden is stunning and it has given me many ideas for my own garden - like the pink & white hydrangea you planted on the picket fence corner. Thank you so much for sharing your home & garden with us, I look forward to each and every post.
Gingham Gardens said…
What a transformation! You've done an amazing job in 12 years. It's so fun to be able to look back and appreciate all the hard work you've done. It's so beautiful! Happy gardening.
I love everything you have done, you are so amazing and have worked so hard but it is a lovely place to be any time of day. I hope some day mine will look just a little bit like yours, you do give me ideas and i am truly grateful, thanks.
Bernideen said…
This is an amazing development and outstanding accomplishment! Congratulations!
GranthamLynn said…
Stunning! It's amazing how gorgeous it is. You've done so much work!
I would love for you to share your post and garden at The Fabulous Party!
The party goes all week Sunday to Sunday. It's over here:
Annie said…
Your garden and especially your Vanilla Strawberry hydrangeas have inspired me for years. I initially found your blog because of the hydrangeas. Then, there was the chicken coop that proved it's ok to have it near the house. Mine was so far from my back door that I dreaded tending the chicks during our long winters. When I had the new coop built, it was positioned close enough to the house that I can access it easily in winter. I've also planted a few Vanilla Strawberry hydrangeas. However, my focus is roses and I have loved every post of yours showcasing your roses. When we had about 50 tall pines felled 3 years ago, it provided me with a mountain of arborist wood chip mulch from the branches that were put through the chipper. It has made the biggest impact in the health of my soil/roses more than anything else I've done. I was intrigued by your mention of "high quality fertile mulch". Can you elaborate a little on that? If there is something better than what I'm using, I would really love to know about it. The only negative with my mulch is that it is not really attractive. Thank you for all the ideas throughout the years. You are very generous to share your knowledge.
Fern&Tweet said…
Enjoyed reading about your design journey. We share many of the same ideas, experiences & vision. Beautiful!
Great work and the result is amazing! It´s so nice visiting your beautiful blog...
Have a sunny weekend!
Becky said…
May I ask where you purchased or how you made the bird feeder in the flower bed along with the decorative post it rests upon? I was looking for the same style to put in a new perennial bed I planted.
You created a piece of your own paradise, Tracie! Wonderful garden - elegant, serene, healthy and inviting! Thank you for this inspiring post!
sarah said…
What an amazing transformation! you have truly inspired me.
Love your garden, very inspiring to see somebody very near home was able to build a beautiful place. Happy Gardening! Roses �� are my fave as well as white hydrangea
While I Linger said…
I follow on Facebook and the photos made me think this house must be on Nantucket or Cape Cod as it would fit in beautifully there. You've done a terrific job with the landscaping!
Sandra said…
Lindo. Feliz dia. Cumprimentos.

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