Outdoors

Secret Gardens

Sneak peeks of private spaces

Thursday, July 10, 2014

You’ll never see bright orange koi swimming around in Molly Monahan’s backyard pond. Instead, visitors can expect to view rainbow trout of various sizes.

“I enjoy watching herons occasionally eat 57-cent trout, not expensive koi,” Monahan said on a recent Saturday morning.

As she spoke, many of the footlong-and-over trout were vigorously churning the surface of the eight-foot-deep pond, which is assuredly the focal point of Monahan’s impressive 41st Street garden.

While the water feature and accompanying green space is a sanctuary for Monahan—a busy private investigator whose storied life history includes stints as a color consultant in Switzerland and a gallery owner in New Jersey (among other things)—she’s not averse to sharing it with others.

In fact, her garden will be one of six that will be open to the public as part of the Whatcom Horticultural Society’s 28th annual Tour of Private Gardens happening July 12-13 throughout Bellingham. (Incidentally, on July 18, she’ll also open up her home for a “Bedtime Stories for Grownups” fundraiser for the iDiOM Theater.)

On the day of our own secret tour, Monahan still had a long list of tasks to accomplish before opening up her lush environs to the masses the following weekend. A sampling of chores included: finishing staining the deck, cleaning the toolshed, weeding the top of the hill and the “gazebo circle,” hammering in bench plugs, distributing wood ships and (long story) gluing rocks to a pond pump.

While she admitted to being stressed about the things that still needed to be done before the fundraiser, Monahan said was confident she’d have her space in shipshape condition come the following Saturday.

“I respond well to deadlines,” she said. “It’s like inviting people to dinner so I have an excuse to clean the kitchen.”

Judging by the herculean efforts Monahan has put into her garden since she moved to her three-quarter-acre lot eight years ago—such as adding hundreds of flowers, trees and shrubs to the property, moving plants that had already been planted there (just in the wrong places), and establishing the stream-fed pond—there’s little doubt that many of the previously mentioned tasks have already been crossed off the list.

The weeding will never be done, however. Since Monahan uses no chemicals and much of the landscape is accessible via wily pathways that wend away from the main garden, she long ago gave up on trying to reach perfection when it came to the always-hearty weeds. 

“I keep hoping to find the elves have pulled them all out of the walkway while I slept,” Monahan said, laughing.

Like the other gardens on the tour, Monahan’s outdoor retreat is full of surprises. Follow one pathway of the hilly terrain, and you’ll end up on a rock outcropping with a flourishing madrone nearby and a peek-a-boo view of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands. Near the almost-hidden shed, there’s a garden plot with kale and a few other vegetables being grown for the Maple Alley Inn. Oh, and was that a deer that just jumped through the trees in the 60-foot easement behind the property?

While she’s happy to accept compliments relating to her flourishing oasis, Monahan says it doesn’t take a lot to be a successful gardener in our region.

“You really don’t have to learn how to grow things here in the Pacific Northwest,” she said. “You just have to know how to cull the plants. Mother Nature does the rest.”

SVCR Live Music
More Outdoors...
Grand Larchery
A quest for autumnal art

As September unfurls its autumnal colors, my thoughts turn to the realm of the magnificent larch forests, high on the eastern slopes of the North Cascades. Actually, forest is too strong a word. Larches gather in “stands,” not forests. The high country they inhabit cannot support forests.…

more »
Water Week
A resource worth celebrating

When rain fell late last week, and again over the weekend, it was the first time in almost three months that Whatcom County had any “wetting rain”—rainfall that was widespread over an extended period of time.

And although the soggy Saturday likely threw monkey wrenches into outdoor…

more »
Sh'Bang!
An end-of-summer spectacular

Under the list of “things you’ll need and maybe want” on Sh’Bang’s website are a flashlight or headlamp, rain gear, warm clothes and layers, camping gear, a refillable water container, things to share, some of your own food, earplugs, musical instruments, costumes, water toys and mermaid…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Lynden Farmers Market

12:00pm|Front Street

Together for Peace

6:00pm|Majestic

Stream Tour

6:00pm|Whatcom Creek

Day of Peace observes those displaced by war

6:00pm

Trash Talk

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Travel Talk

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Chuckanut Radio Hour with Nancy Pearl

7:00pm|Village Books

Authentic Illusionist Jay Ownehouse

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Ferndale Farmers Market

3:00pm|Centennial Riverwalk Park

Foof Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Farm Tunes

6:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Oktoberfest Cruises

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

The Last Outrageous Women

7:00pm|Village Books

7-Day Dance Festival Finale

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Friday Night Flicks

7:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Welcome Back Students Shows

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Bellingham Farmer’s Market 2020 Solutions Sept 2017
Saturday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Oktoberfest Cruises

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Welcome Back Students Shows

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

South Whatcom Birding Walks

8:00am|South Whatcom Library

Harvest Happens

8:00am|Bellewood Acres

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Southside Rummage Sale

8:30am| Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Make It and Take it

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|North Fork Library, Nugents Corner

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Little Mountain Trail 10K

10:00am|Carpenter Creek Winery

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Salmon Sighting

10:00am|Thompson Creek Bridge

Pesto Perfecto

11:00am|Ferndale Library

Council of the Animals

11:00am|Boulevard Park

Trial Vineyard Open House

12:00pm|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Sedro-Woolley Brewfest

2:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

The Art of Living

3:00pm|Deming Library

River Walk

3:00pm| Horseshoe Bend Trailhead.

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Kulshan CLT Community Party

5:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Democrats Dinner

5:30pm| Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa

BowEdison Anniversary Party

5:30pm|BowEdison

Fall Demo Derby

6:30pm|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Moment

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Salsa Night

9:30pm|Cafe Rumba

see our complete calendar »

BOB_2017 Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Bellingham Farmer’s Market 2020 Solutions Sept 2017 Trove MBT Janis Joplin Village Books