Standing on the sidewalk, looking up a steep slope towards the home of Landscape Architect Keith Geller, you know you’re about to enter a special landscape. Over the past 30 years, Geller has transformed a bare, grassy slope into an forested urban haven. His yard has been featured in magazines, books and newspapers stories and I was excited when I saw it listed on this years Washington Native Plant Society’s garden tour. It was a cloudy and drizzly day, but despite the weather, or perhaps because of it, this was the perfect example of what a Pacific Northwest garden could and should be.
This garden is a lesson in movement, from one outdoor room to another, from shade to sunlight and always up. As the description of the garden from the tour says, the garden was started in 1981 with the New England woodland as inspiration. It has a series of rooms including three different courtyards an arbor with seating and several little nooks tucked away in corners of the garden. The entire garden is on a slope and so each room is on a different level amongst the sloping plantings. This demonstrates Geller’s design philosophy, which he shared with Northwest Garden News in their August: Time to Critique article. He says he teaches how to think about the spaces in a garden and then how to link them all. Geller’s garden is linked to the sidewalk by a steep staircase which arrives in the entry courtyard where the front of the house is. To the right is a small pond area with a tucked away chair and to the left is a lookout landing with another chair. Following the gravel path along the house brings you do another courtyard.