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Cultivating Style


March 2014

Lisa Yost


Lisa Yost photo

As the Garden Floral Manager, the Bellevue Club and Hotel Bellevue have been my home away from home for nearly two decades. During that time, I’ve worked with all the Club’s green spaces to cultivate a design style that we like to think of as contemporary elegance with a Pan-Asian influence yet a distinctly relaxed Northwest feel—hence the use of stone and emphasis on trees, shrubs and groundcover. It sounds very specific, but I always say, whether you run an estate, have a handful of pots, or, like most of us, have something in between, it’s important to develop a distinct, personal style. For the Home Issue, I’m going to give you a few hints on how you can do this in your own garden.


One of the easiest ways is to take cues from the architecture of your home and surrounding environment. For example, Hotel Bellevue has formal elements, so we complement that with clean hedges and straight lines created by repeating patterns in pots and plantings. Whereas the Luna patio has an informal look, so we went with natural placement of stone and plants that are allowed to fill in to create privacy and a relaxed atmosphere.

Another way to create a style is to make a good game plan. Plant the “backbone” of your garden, such as larger specimen trees and shrubs, first. Massing shrubs and grasses together creates impact and continuity in the landscape, whereas using one of this and one of that can look untidy and unplanned. Also, balance the use of evergreen plants and trees (those that are green year-round) and deciduous ones (those that drop their leaves in the winter). Create important seasonal interest by varying bloom times of plants. When just starting out, visit nurseries every season to see what is featured and will add to the interest of your garden.

Once you have a base, you can further curate your style with color. Foliage color, such as green, bronze, purple and variegated, is needed to contrast with flower color. Cool tones—purples, blues and whites—lengthen distances and make a space feel larger, which tends to relax the viewer. Stimulating hot tones—reds, oranges and yellows—attract the eye and are good as a focal point to draw the eye into the distance. I try to pull colors from the foliage and bring it through with flowers. For example, last season at Splash, we planted Trusty Rusty Coleus with Terra Cotta Petunia, which matched beautifully. For contrast, we pulled the hot pink from the veins of the petunia with geraniums and added white to pop at night.
Happy spring gardening! And remember, if you see me around the Club, I am happy to confer about gardens any time.


Lisa Yost, Garden Floral Manager

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