Flowers and vegetables bountiful in Jen Green’s English-style garden


Jen Green with some blooming hellebores in her garden at her Bellingham home Monday, March 4, 2013.

Jen Green with some blooming hellebores in her garden at her Bellingham home Monday, March 4, 2013.


Who: Jen Green.

Residence: Birchwood neighborhood for the past 11 years. I’ve lived in Bellingham since 1988.

Question: How did you become a great gardener? Answer: Gardening was a passion I inherited from my mother, who grew flowers and veggies at home in the United Kingdom.

Q: If your garden has a theme, how did you develop it and carry it out? A: I seem to have developed an English-style garden, with many of the traditional blooms.

The lilac tree came with the house, and gives focus to each spring. In the winter, bird feeders, chimes and decorations decorate the bare branches. The pale, purple blooms have influenced my color scheme; white, pink, burgundy, blue and purple dominate. I love to grow flowers to attract humming birds.

I don't consider myself a "great" gardener, because my skills are haphazard! I enjoy puttering, pruning and dead-heading flowers. The vegetables require more attention, and it’s brilliant to have organic veggies. I put in an asparagus bed two years ago, and hope to harvest plenty of my favorite vegetable this year!

Q: What is one plant in your garden that is special? A: A couple of years ago I planted six David Austen roses, all English types with old-fashioned heavy perfume and many petals. Two are standard roses. They require a bit more attention than other plants. One is in a container, and I’m afraid it hasn’t wintered well. The others are in good shape, despite the dry summer. I give them rose food, and also coffee grounds (free, from Starbucks!). They respond well to heavy pruning.

I am able to cultivate a good bed of hostas on the east side of the house. In the shade of the lilac tree I have Lenten roses (hellebores) in several colors. I love them because they are harbingers of spring! They seem to flourish despite benign neglect, responding to clearing out the dead leaves and watering judiciously.

The west side of the house gets very warm and is perfect for an herb border. I enjoy the harvest of sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley, mint and lemon balm.

Q: What is your garden’s nemesis, and how do you cope with it? A: Aphids and black spot are the worst problems, and I try to hose down the fruit trees — I have an apple, a plum and a peach tree, all dwarf — without resorting to soap (but when I do, I use Safer Brand soap). I don’t mind the occasional mole-hill, because I don’t see much use in lawn, anyway.

Q: How many hours a week do you spend working in your garden in each season? A: I work outside five to 10 hours a week in growing season, and only an hour or less in the winter. The times when I stop to pull a weed or pick off dead blossoms really can’t be calculated.

Q: What tool could you not do without? A: My favorite tool is a weeding implement that has a fork on one side and a trowel blade on the other. Don’t know how I’d manage without it! Or, my hand pruners, come to think of it!

Q: What’s the best garden advice you ever got? A: The best garden advice I ever got was, of course, from my mother — grow what you love!

Q: What’s your favorite way to share your garden? A: Pictures. I have albums of them! They show the transition from 11 years ago to the ever-evolving garden of each season. I like to have friends over to sit in the front garden, where the lilac tree reigns, to share beer or lemonade; I don’t know how to make iced tea!

Q: What’s a favorite garden, other than your own? A: I love the green Northwest, and I visit a friend who lives on Cain Lake, where I could stare at her lake view, framed by giant cedars, for hours! The evergreens and foliage have such an abiding attraction for me. That’s the thing about gardens; they can fill your day and make it beautiful.

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