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Merlot’s Garden – Designer Mary Baum

Merlot’s Garden is tucked away on a quiet street in Forest Heights. Merlot, the resident tiger-striped feline, lives in the house along with her sister, Chardonnay. The house originally had a front lawn, and side and backyards that weren’t useable because of the slope. The existing concrete patio was too small. The homeowner wanted low maintenance and zero lawn. As a world traveler with a Japanese and French heritage, the homeowner wanted to incorporate a little Japanese and a little French Quarter into the landscape project.

The lawn was removed and the planting beds were revamped into a lush, Northwest Asian-inspired garden. A patio was added using blue flagstone and concrete steppingstones. The north-facing side yard was converted into an abstract stepping stone path along a dry creek bed. A cherub statue sits on a pedestal at the base of the retaining wall, surrounded by shade loving perennials and groundcovers. Paths of gravel and natural and recycled stone meander through the garden. Remembering that Shinto gardeners believe “Evil spirits can only walk a straight line” – this garden offers no recluse for any evil spirit.

Moss is the natural groundcover and is embraced throughout the garden. White impatiens bring additional light. Pops of color from All Gold Japanese forest grass, silvery pulmonaria, feathery ferns, and maroon-leafed ligularia co-mingle to brighten this shady Northwest garden.

At the foot of the basalt stone steps leading up to the large patio sits a water bowl with a bamboo spout amongst the black mondo grass. On the opposite side of the steps is a Mikawa Yatsubusa Japanese maple that has the look of a dwarf bamboo. In the fall, the green foliage suddenly turns gold and falls within days. The branching of this tree makes it a focal point year-round.

Black Mexican river rock and slabs of Iron Mountain flagstone create an intimate patio overlooking the woodsy green space. A stately Silberlocke Korean fir sits above an arced retaining wall made of wind-swept basalt. A variety of textures and foliage create a different look in each sitting area. Asian lanterns from Bali placed along the paths make one wonder “What’s around the corner?” Hydrangeas, hellebores and ornamental grasses lead to a cozy patio area. A path meanders along a dry creek bed.

Merlot loves her daily walks along the paths to check out new additions to the garden. The patches of catmint along the dry creek bed are Merlot’s favorite place to sit and watch the flora, fauna, and woodland creatures – while paying special attention to the local bird population.

The homeowner loves the lushness of her garden; it brings her a sense of home with both her Japanese and French Heritage. Making her dream a reality is the reason I LOVE my job!

Step into an Asian-inspired garden that has unique plant combinations tucked around every corner. Enjoy!

Mary Baum, Creative Landscape Designs


Our goal is to create your special Garden of Eden. No project is too small. Whether it’s New Construction, Container Pots, Vegetable Gardens, Lofts/Balconies, Plant procurement/Placement, or simply Fine Tuning existing garden spaces.

We’re not afraid of getting dirty and having FUN doing it.


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