The rockery and terrace area evolved when Nick and Linda took out the old above-ground pool and were left with a curved retaining wall and a hot, bare slope. Today, it's planted with barrenwort, lavender, aubretia, cinquefoil, thyme and a variety of small bulbs. The nearby terraces feature 'Laura Dessert' and 'Golden Bracelet' peonies, and dwarf Korean box (likely Buxus sinicavar. insularis 'Wintergreen') edging.
And roses. There are groundcover types in the rockery, 'Leda" and 'Buff Beauty' in terrace beds, and 'Rambling Rector' climbing over a nearby pergola, while 'Rosa Mundi' and Rosa gallica var. officinalis may be found along the fence that leads to the back of the house.
Down the hill to the south is the formal knot garden, which is framed from the patio by two native big-leaf maples (Acer macrophyllum). The circular, 4.8-metre- diameter knot, encompassed by a gravel path, features a lavender square, a box circle, germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) loops, with 'Minus' thyme (Thymus praecox ssp. articus 'Minor') for groundcover.
Nick thought I was nuts, but I've always loved parterres and patterns, so he figured out the dimensions," Linda says. "He always goes the extra mile for me."
Or in this case, 45 centimetres. That's how much of an elevation change had to be corrected before the knot garden could be installed. Nick constructed a retaining wall, made the armillary sphere for the centre and even welded a unique "lantern gate" that separates the knot garden from another path up the hill toward the carport, the machine shop and greenhouse.
Beyond the cultivated area are views of the pasture and the 18-metre-long arched bridge, beautifully constructed by Nick. He built the bridge so he could get across French Creek and wander the deer paths through their forest, where in the southwest corner he had discovered a rough bramble bog with dead and dying trees. "There was no way to get in there with a machine and clean it up," he says.
But when his neighbour was using an excavator on the nearby hill, Nick saw an opportunity to access the location from the back. They dug a basin and ended up with a keyhole-shaped pond about 12 metres in diameter with a 15-metre "leg", complete with frogs, newts and visiting deer.
"The yellow clay on the bottom acts as a sealant, so the water doesn't drain away," he says. Nick defined the trails and added wood chips. He constructed a concrete spillway so overflow from the pond would be diverted to the creek, and benches so he could sit and enjoy the view, something he does every day.
A PASSION FOR PEONIES
Linda Rehlinger is passionate about peonies because they are "big, beautiful and fragrant." Her favourites include 'America', 'Red Charm', 'Fairy's Petticoat' and 'Gardenia'.
She also likes tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa), particularly the collectible P. suffruticosa ssp. rockii syn. 'Joseph Rock'.
Peonies prefer full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Linda says they need a period of cold to encourage bloom, and when they are planted, peony eyes cannot be more than five centimetres below the ground, otherwise they'll grow but not bloom. She gives each plant plenty of air circulation to avoid mould and always supports the plants with peony cages. In the fall, after cutting foliage back to about five centimetres, she mulches the rest of the garden but puts only about 2.5 centimetres on her peonies, since a thick layer keeps them too warm on the West Coast.