A Garden Dressed for a Party

The garden of Cherry and Terry Jarvis is a sunny celebration of summer

Cherry and Terry Jarvis GardenIn the Suquamish garden of Cherry and Terry Jarvis, landscaper Teri Cole has taken garden design to a new level. Several levels, in fact. Cole’s canvas is a lovely piece of high-bank waterfront that makes its way down — one broad step at a time — from the street to the beach. Along the way, each layer reveals a new vignette: a splash of hydrangea here, a sweep of the Suquamish dock there. Geraniums wave from the window boxes and sight-seeing seaplanes bank low along the curving shoreline — it’s exactly what a beach retreat should be.

Cherry and Terry Jarvis GardenSerendipity Strikes Twice

Between the garden and the view sits the house. Built in 1915, it is one of the original Suquamish cabins. Over the years, various owners have remodeled and added living space while respecting the down-to-earth, Kitsap-casual character and the stunning Port Madison views, which include Indianola, Bainbridge Island and Mount Rainier. In 1991, the couple purchased the place following a bit of serendipity. In the early 1900s, Cherry Jarvis’ grandmother came to Suquamish to view the initial offering of lots for sale on Plum Street. So, with the small town already on Jarvis’ radar, it seemed like fate when a realtor friend informed the couple of the Suquamish cabin for sale.

Cherry and Terry Jarvis GardenGood fortune struck again when, several years later, Jarvis met Cole while on the Bainbridge Garden Tour. Cole’s vision of lush, approachable gardenscapes was just what Jarvis imagined for her Suquamish vacation home.

“I wanted the Suquamish garden to be cottagy, not too serious,” Jarvis says. “Teri knew just what I was thinking of.”

Into the Blue

In the garden that Cole created 20 years ago, hydrangeas are key. Not only do they bring the blue of the summer sky to the backyard, they are also family favorites for their ease of cultivation and extended bloom time. Each year, Jarvis brings armfuls into the house to make bouquets and to dry. The hydrangeas are joined in their cottagy cachet by peonies and roses. Whereas most of the roses spread their petals of white, red and peach to billow demurely throughout summer, the climbing roses that scramble over the beach-trail arbor hoist their raspberry ruffles en masse in July.

Cherry and Terry Jarvis GardenCole is hands-on in the Jarvis garden. No designing and walking away for her. For the past two decades, she has altered, adjusted and edited. She has maintained heritage elements of the garden, such as specimen rhodies. Each year, she pulls faded annuals in the fall and plants anew in the spring. Throughout summer, the beds burst with annuals such as salvia, coreopsis, cosmos and nictotiana. Color is no obstacle to her design; if the blooms are lovely and the plants robust, they are candidates for the coming year.

Cherry and Terry Jarvis GardenContaining the Enthusiasm

Containers play an important role in the garden. Ceramic pots, a wooden tub, an exposed-aggregate pedestal planter. A profusion of pots. Window boxes as well. Many of the ceramic pots echo the celestial blue of the hydrangeas. Cole fills these containers with a vibrant mix of summer annuals. Long-blooming classics like petunias, geranium, lobelia and verbena are joined by nepeta, golden sweet potato vine and ornamental grasses.

So many elements come together to create the look of this summer garden. Red Adirondack chairs by the entry, white ones by the firepit. A white picket fence. A Japanese maple that spreads its multiple trunks against the guesthouse wall. The guesthouse itself, generations old and first designed as a child’s playhouse, retains its fairy-tale charm in an arbor of Clematis montana with sweetly scented blooms of sugar pink.

Cherry and Terry Jarvis GardenFoundations

Cole laid a foundation for the explosion of color with a stalwart shrubbery of box honeysuckle, chartreuse-leaved spirea, euonymus and chamaecyparis. Shady areas include ferns, fatsia and pieris. By the firepit, in the afternoon shade of an enormous rhododendron grow boxwood, carex, deer fern and bear’s breeches. Figs, a favorite of Cole’s, thrive along the property line and at the entrance to the series of beach-stair belvederes.

In June, July and August, just when the family is most likely to gather at the beach house, the garden reaches its peak. If anything could compete with the view, this garden has the beauty to do it. Grandchildren playing in the guesthouse, dogs on the shore, and Cherry and Terry Jarvis reading on the deck surrounded by figs and flowers — it’s the recipe for a perfect summer day. This garden is a joyful place to be. It’s a garden dressed for a party.