Grooming the Wild…and win a giftcard!

by Christine Rimmer

pearls headshotA few years back, we moved to Portland, Oregon. I love Portland. It’s a gorgeous, green city, with wide rivers flowing through it, a city nestled in the trees.

Our house is on the Southeast slope of Mt. Scott, in a community where there are designated wildspaces. We have a wildspace behind our house here—between our house and the ones on the block behind us. Wildspaces are protected natural spaces where homeowners are not allowed plant backyard gardens. The space must be left in its natural state. And in our neighborhood, homeowners are not allowed to build fences across the back of the properties. Whatever backyard space we have must be open to the wildspace.

It’s been a challenge for us to make a sort of wildspace backyard, creating a natural-looking landscape that blends into the wild area. A challenge and a joy.

And not only is there a protected wildspace in our backyard, there are also several protected trees, most of which are in the area close to the house—not in the wildspace, but protected nonetheless. These include several giant Douglas Firs, each one specifically listed on a map of the neighborhood. Also protected are all trees with trunks more than one inch in diameter. To cut down one of these protected trees, an arborist must certify that it is damaged or diseased enough to be a danger to the surrounding homes.

Our backyard when we moved in.  See that tree?  It's the protected tree we had to take out and that is the tree man about to do the job.

Our backyard when we moved in. See that tree? It’s the protected tree we had to take out and the guy with the rope is the tree man about to do the job.

And what happens if you encroach on the wildspace or cut down a protected tree? Nothing—until and unless the city somehow finds out. And if the city does find out, we are talking thousands in fines. A few of our neighbors had learned the hard way not to mess with the wildspace or the protected trees. We learned from them.
And we haven’t messed.

See that stump? Still there today, as well as the tree trunk, fallen into the wildspace

See that stump? Still there today, as well as the tree trunk, fallen into the wildspace

Instead, we’ve terraced a little and planted a little in the area that borders the wildspace. We have cut down one of the protected Douglas Fir trees, which was diseased, after jumping through all the necessary hoops with the city.

Another rule?  Felled protected trees and stumps must be left to decay naturally where they are felled.  So as you can see, the trunk and the stump are still there three years later.

And over, time, we have groomed and planted and still tried to keep the special tone of our backyard, which is slightly wild and slightly groomed. Now I love to sit on my back deck under my protected trees and enjoy the beauty of nature while I read a great book. Or have dinner beneath the stars on my patio down the stairs beside the deck.


The trellis? An attempt to keep the deer at bay. Minimally effective, but hey. We try



Love me some cool yard art. This is a bird made from a shovel by a guy who sells his fanciful yard decor at our local farmers’ market.


Portland is the rose city. But ask anyone who lives here–it’s also rhododendron central. The rhodi has tripled in size since we planted it two years ago.


This one just to give you a sense of how the trellis, tree and rhodi all stand together….

Do you have a garden? Something about it you especially love?  Whether you do or not, do you have a favorite spot where you enjoy your summer reading the most?

Leave a comment here by Friday.  Saturday, I’ll choose a winner from your comments for a $10 Amazon gift card!  Love and hugs and thanks for visiting….

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30 Responses to Grooming the Wild…and win a giftcard!

  1. amy o'neal says:

    mom does all the outside gardening. I like house plants. I try not to go outside to much because im scared of spiders

    • Amy, LOL! And yep. Spiders are creepy. I always wear nice, thick gloves when I garden so any random bugs can’t bite. And I really love getting out and digging in the dirt–which surprises me as I NEVER liked such activities when I was younger. XOXO!

  2. Felicia M Ciaudelli says:

    I would love to have a garden, but to quote a comment I have heard other garden-challenged folks make, my house is where plants would come to die – the closest we come is potted plants and potted veggies like basil and parsley – I LOVE the fragrance!!!!

  3. C-Jay M says:

    We have a beautiful lilac bush; I love the smell of them :) My favorite spot for reading is curled up in my chair, looking out the window at all the other flowers ;)

  4. Joanna Sims says:

    Hi Christine!

    I love what you have done with your backyard! What a perfect spot to read, think, or just hang-out and be! My husband is (attempting) to create a “sunflower corner” in our backyard. Our very first sprout popped up today! If the seed-God is with us, giant sunflowers will live in that corner!

    Best regards,


    • Joanna, thank you! We’ve kind of learned to love it in spite of all the restrictions. It can be fun to try to make the best of a whole boatload of rather annoying rules. Who knew?

      Ooo. A sunflower corner. I hope you’ll blog about that. Sounds delightful.

  5. bn100 says:

    like the flowers in my garden

  6. bn100, I so agree. Every year, I love to watch the different flowers come out, some early, some later. Really brings a smile….

  7. testing comments. I think I had them turned off for a while. ARgh.

  8. Jane Squires says:

    I have three garden boxes – tomatoes, strawberries and green peppers with yellow and zucchini squash in them. Container pots at end of garden – with green peppers, okra, and more strawberries.
    I have okra plants in pot on porch and then my flowers.

  9. Veda Funk says:

    have you thought about putting a barrel planter on top of the stump and planting some flowers that drape and let the flowers cover the stump into something beautiful. Your backyard looks beautiful and peaceful.

    • Veda, I love that idea. I may do it, even though in the winter, there would be a problem with freezing. I would need maybe annuals and I may just be too lazy for that. But it certainly is tempting! Thank you! XOXO!

  10. Marcy Shuler says:

    Your yard is so pretty, Christine! I don’t really have a garden. I have an old lilac bush (tree) and forsythia bushes. I really miss the backyard of the home I grew up in. It had three tiers of planting that ended in a river. There was even a stone fish pond that had a waterfall that recycled the water into it. There were tons of lily of the valley, jack in the pulpits, bleeding hearts, columbine and trillium. Good memories.

  11. Dyan says:

    So pretty!! I would love a backyard like that! As far as gardening here I love growing things we can eat. Our high school is an environmental school and has taught us how to plant smart. Yours is just prettier!

    • Dyan, you’re so right about growing things you can eat. My grandmother did that and I loved foods from her garden. I do keep thinking it would be a good idea to try at least some tomatoes and herbs… XOXO!

  12. Your backyard is gorgeous – I love the mix of wild and groomed. Gardening in Colorado is tough but I make an effort with potted flowers and a veggie garden. I was feeling guilty last week b/c I hadn’t planted the vegetables yet since we were leaving on vacation and then we got a huge hailstorm that wiped out everyone’s plants along with a ton of pine needles and most of the leaves off the trees. So sad for our summer – but at least I didn’t lose anything.

    • Michelle, thank you! we used to get those kinds of hailstorms in Oklahoma. Not so much here, but we do get big winds that blow the evergreen branches down. That can be scary. Sorry about all the destruction… XOXO!

  13. Anita H. says:

    I would love to have a garden but I don’t have a green thumb at all, or the time to maintain one! I think it would be so beautiful to have one. Favorite summer reading spot is by my big windows in the living room. All that fresh air coming through and the sunlight, it’s just perfect!

    • Anita, your summer reading spot sounds perfect. And having a general idea of everything you’re working on…I don’t see how you could realistically add one more job. Whew! XOXO!

  14. Tammy Y says:


    What pretty pictures. I do not have a garden. Not my thing. I like looking at gardens, but not working on them. Portland is a pretty city. I have a friend in Estacada and we fly into Portland when we visit.

  15. I mean state. Sheesh.

  16. Ada says:

    I’m not much of an outdoorsy person so gardens are not in my future. I just don’t like bugs…and heat lol My favorite place to read in summer (and winter!) is always my bed. Snuggling up with a great book, you can’t beat that!

  17. Amy Woods says:

    Gorgeous backyard, Christine! It’s really neat that Portland is making an effort to preserve nature, despite the gardening challenges. :-)


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