Shelley Muzzy lives on Bellingham's South Hill.
Question: How did you become a great gardener?
Answer: Anything we (with husband Robert Muzzy) have learned was done by trial and error, and talking to other gardeners.
Q: If your garden has a theme, how did you develop it and carry it out?
A: No theme. This was an old house with an herb garden at one time. We started with small spaces and worked on a few of them each year until we had some sort of plan. Then when we got tired of that or it didn't work, we changed it. Plants get old and die and need to be replaced.
We have a lot of little "things" in the garden, mementos of our family: the Red Queen for our daughter Eleise; the arch we put in when she got married in the yard; an old seahorse grid from the top of a carnival ride my good friend gave me; the top of a library cupola from Seattle.
Our garden is very personal. We are informal people, and our garden reflects that.
Q: Tell us about one plant in your garden that is special.
A: Some of the azaleas in what we call the Azalea Bed have been here since we moved in. I feel a special charge to keep them going and take a great delight when they bloom each year. They are so old there is lichen on the branches, and the fact that they burst into bloom with such enthusiasm is very rewarding.
Q: Tell us how we can grow three plants from your garden.
A: Oh boy ... just stick them in the ground and pay attention. They grow all on their own! How to grow a plant? Honestly, a gardener just puts it in the ground and waits. If you have to fuss with it too much, it probably isn't right for the space you have it in. If nothing else, a garden teaches you just how little control you really have.
Q: What animal or plant is your garden nemesis and how do you cope with it?
A: Morning-glories, or by their more accurate name, bindweed. We cope by diligence, tracking down those pesky runner roots and pulling them out, year after year after year. They never go away, those and buttercups.
Q: How many hours a week do you spend working in your garden in each season?
A: Spring and summer I try to go out for an hour or so each sunny day. And we almost always spend a few hours on the weekends. When I was working, Muzzy (her husband) and I spent most Sundays in the garden. We do cleanup in late winter when the weather permits, although now that I am not working, I actually got out and cut a few things back in the fall.
Q: What tool could you not do without, and why?
A: My Felco pruners and my digging stick with the forked end. The other tool I love is a pair of Japanese clippers.
Q: What's the best garden advice you ever got?
A: From my grandmother: If you don't like it, pull it up and plant something else.
Q: What's your favorite way to share your garden?
A: We have a large garden party in late summer and invite all our friends and family. When we're lucky, the weather cooperates and it is a glorious day with the best food ever.
Q: What's your favorite garden, other than your own?
A: Kathy Billington's garden is one I absolutely admire and adore. She is so inventive in the way she combines unusual plants in unusual ways. I like personal gardens, ones that are worked by their owners with no help, ones that are a reflection of the individual ... not too planned.
Shelley Muzzy's helpful sources"
Garden Gate Magazine
"The New Western Garden Book," Sunset Western Garden Book
Reach MARGARET BIKMAN at email@example.com or 715-2273.