Garden Photo of the Day

A SoCal Gardener in the Pacific Northwest

A gardener trades Orange County sunshine for mountain views in Tacoma

stone garden patio and pond surrounded by plants and

Hi GPODers! Today we’re in the garden of Jo Ann, and seeing how she’s faring after a move from sunny SoCal to the lush Pacific Northwest:

My name is Jo Ann Sarlese. My husband and I moved to this lovely property in Brown’s Point, Northeast Tacoma, Washington, four years ago from Orange County in Southern California. I considered myself a fairly knowledgeable gardener, but not up here in Washington. I’ve had a lot to learn. I have never seen many of the plants in our new yard, so I have relied a lot on plant apps and friends to identify what is here.

As the spring gave way to summer, I realized how overgrown the yard was. We hired a crew to clean up and clear out the yard. Then we began to give the garden some structure. Like all gardens, it’s an ongoing project.

tulips and flowering shrubs in a shady gardenThis area is along the waterfall area. The lovely orange tulip with the picot edged petals is the longest lasting tulip in the yard. Purple azaleas and sword fern (Polystichum munitum, Zones 4–9) are in the foreground, and from left to right in the background are dwarf Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’, Zones 4–8), ‘Emperor One’ (red) maple (Acer palmatum ‘Emperor 1’, Zones 5–9), laceleaf maple, fernleaf full-moon maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, Zones 4–8), and pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens, Zones 3–7).

large shrub with pink foliageForest Flame Japanese pieris (Pieris ‘Forest Flame’, Zones 5–8) with its vibrant display and cascading flowers, is a welcome sight to see after a long rainy winter and spring.

close up of cascading flowers on colorful shrubIf you’re going to give up valuable garden real estate to a large shrub, make sure its one that serves more than just one purpose. The fabulous foliage of Forest Flame Japanese pieris is compelling in and of itself, but the cascading flowers take it to the next level!

close up of Jack-in-the-pulpit plantJack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum, Zones 4–9) keeps itself well hidden under the large trillium-like leaves and also lasts a very long time.

stone garden patio and pond surrounded by plants andThis is the center of the yard and my favorite place to just sit and gaze. We added the flagstone and the smokeless firepit. The tree, which is the last to get its leaves, is an Acer ‘Paper Bark Maple’. The pond is surrounded with sword fern and Oregon wood sorrel (Oxalis oregana, Zones 7–9). Above is Japanese waterfall maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Waterfall’, Zones 5–8), an orange rhododendron, and a Japanese snowbell tree (Styrax japonicus, Zones 5–8).

stone path leading to small treeAt the entrance to the garden is a laceleaf Japanese maple, with wild violets (Viola sororia, Zones 3–7) around the base. Flanking the gate is forsythia (Forsythia spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9), and to the right is an azalea. In the foreground are assorted irises.

flowering trees and shrubs in the gardenThis side yard is up near the house. In the foreground is a flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum, Zones 5–7) surrounded by a hosta, calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica, Zones 8–10), and daylilies. In back are White Knight’ weigela (Weigela florida ‘White Knight’, Zones 5–9) and exbury azalea, and above are cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus, Zones 5–7) and flowering cherry plum tree (Prunus cerasifera, Zones 4–8).

garden in spring with scattered bloomsThe slender tree is ‘Fastigiata’ golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Fastigiata’, Zones 5–9). Also present are red peony, assorted irises, calla lilies, and Paeonia ‘Mons Jules Elie’. In the background are Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata, Zones 7–10) and pink exbury azalea.

wooden garden arbor leading to garden with lots of stoneworkThe archway is covered with clematis that will soon be full of deep purple flowers. A white azalea is to the left.


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 05/30/2024

    Jo Ann, your garden is just out of this world. I loved viewing every part of it. I can understand why you love sitting in the centre of it all and ‘gazing.’ My favourite picture was that of the entrance to the garden. I could look at that constantly it is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing such a spectacular garden.

    1. nanajoann 06/01/2024

      Thank you so much!

  2. MohawkValley 05/30/2024

    What a place to get "lost" in ! Even if one has limited space , when one gets really motivated , any place can become a getaway from all of the stimuli we experience on a daily and even an hourly basis . We all need to get "lost" --- it's what we do and it's possible for everyone to succeed in that endeavor . Peace from the Mohawk Valley in central New York State .

    1. nanajoann 06/01/2024

      Thank you, “getting lost” in the garden is exactly what I like to do!

  3. gardendevas 05/30/2024

    What a lovely garden! Thank you so much for sharing this lush and serene space.

    1. nanajoann 06/01/2024

      Thank you!

  4. nwphilagardener 05/30/2024

    It is clear, JoAnn, that your garden was established by other plant lovers. But your stewardship has already brought your own energies to the fore. Thanks for welcoming us into this -nothing like Orange County - garden oasis1

    1. nanajoann 06/01/2024

      Yes, it’s true, the former owner chose beautiful hardscaping and lovely trees and perennials. They were originally from Southern California also.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/30/2024

    What a lovely pieris!

  6. celoni 05/30/2024

    JoAnn, You have certainly 'bloomed where you have been planted'! I hope you have learned to enjoy the rainy season as well. Thank you for sharing.

  7. btucker9675 05/30/2024

    Stunned into a deep state of gardening envy - your new garden is beyond!!! Everything is so beautiful and the jack in the pulpit photo is marvelous. I hope you enjoy this Eden for many years to come.

    1. nanajoann 06/01/2024

      Thank you for your compliment! I have much more work to do and share, and I do enjoy it all.

  8. User avater
    user-7007816 05/31/2024

    Beautiful plants and combinations.
    Thank you for sharing.

  9. bottlegreen 06/01/2024

    Gorgeous garden! What an oasis you've created in such a short time.
    Are you sure the Jack-in-the-pulpit is Arisaema triphyllum? The photo looks so different from the A. triphyllum that grows in Minnesota. Is it a cultivar of the species?

    1. nanajoann 06/01/2024

      Thanks so much! That identification is what came up on my plant app.

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