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Dean Edenstrom has been working on this land with his crew of landscapers since 1996. They are working together to achieve his overall garden vision of stones and plants to create a low-maintenance, low-water-use landscape that flows around lovely straw bale cottages that share this land. Dean helped to design and create the first permitted straw bale structure in Thurston County and he and his family are happy to share the many benefits of living in a home that is energy efficient, breathable, and constructed of a renewable resource. The landscape includes a swale that helps to collect and filter stormwater from the road before it returns to the ground. Dean is a landscaper, specializing in waterfront stone work and when the crew isn't working elsewhere, they experiment with designs and techniques in this garden. The plants are selected and planted by the landscaping crew leader, Melly Hibbard. Melly knows the ins and outs of this garden after spending many hours here over the last few years and she helps to direct the crews that put in about 30 of hours of work here every month. In addition to the basic maintenance such as pruning, weeding, and generally checking in with the plant's health, there is the constant battle against morning glory (also known as bindweed). We asked Melly to sit down on the lovely stone patio with the scent of ripening grapes heavy in the air and tell us all about this lovely garden.

What are your watering strategies? The raspberries and flowers are on soaker hoses and get watered once a week or so. New areas also get watered about once a week during the driest months. Established areas are watered just as absolutely necessary, maybe once a month or so during drought months. How do you control pests? Lilies are the only slug susceptible plants in this garden. They are planted in pots so that they aren't easily accessible. Tent caterpillars are removed from trees and infested branches are burnt. Aphids are attracted to the roses and they get sprayed off or receive an application of safer soap if needed. Raccoons get the grapes every year and deer get in when the fence is left open but the large barking dogs seem to reduce those encounters. How do you fertilize? Organic fertilizers from Black Lake Organic work well for the plants that need an annual application, including roses and rhododendrons. What approach do you use for controlling diseases? Roses that are not in full sun tend to get black spot. Affected leaves are pulled off and if the plant needs more help, Neem oil works well. How do you handle weeds? Most of the beds are hand weeded. A weed whacker takes care of the areas on the edges and a weed torch works well for the gravel paths and driveway. The lawn really gets no weeding attention, keeping it mowed works pretty well to make sure that weeds aren't going to seed. How many hours a week do you spend in the garden? In a busy week when there are curbs to pour, boulders to move around, steps to create, the crew could spend 20-30 hours here in a week but then not return for a month or two. Do you attract wildlife to your garden? Native plants create great wildlife habitat, bird bathes are fun and used often, and lots of flowers attract birds and insects to the garden.

What are your biggest gardening challenges? Without a doubt, morning glory! We've tried Round Up but it damages some of the desirable plants, burning it with the torch doesn't seem to help and of course, pulling it out means that you always leave some behind. What makes gardening fun or satisfying for you? Being outside is what Melly has always loved to do. Watching plants thrive and the ability to be creative with color and form makes her happy to come to work everyday!

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Microsoft Word - Edenstrom interview.doc