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Sequim garden featured in national magazine

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Stemming from her friend's success, Sequim gardener Donna “Teva” Tetiva gets a chance to share her love of being a green thumb in a national magazine, too.


Tetiva's Sequim Bay garden appears in the July 31 issue of Fine Gardening magazine.


She and her husband, Jerry Levitan, built their house eight years ago in Sequim Bay Estates just west of Blyn; it's now surrounded by luscious landscape on a hill.


“It was just brush and went straight down at a slope,” Levitan said. “She's taken what was five acres of brush and turned it into an amazing garden.”


The opportunity to be in the magazine came after its staff reported on Tetiva's friend, Sharon Nyenhuis, and her design work at Colette's Bed and Breakfast Garden in Port Angeles. Last July, the magazine photographed and interviewed Tetiva. She said Nyenhuis helped her design her garden, too.


Tetiva's feature story focuses on slope gardening.


“There's maintenance and erosion problems. Water and the weather can wash things down the slope,” she said.

“Mulch is the big word. Put on four to six inches in place. It's the biggest money saver to kill weeds, keep moisture in the ground and not have slippage.”


She recommends using shredded mulch and to check with the salesperson about what will work best.


Due to the size and placement of her plants, Tetiva was hand-watering her plants for two years before she installed water spouts at 50 feet intervals. She uses short hoses and sprinklers to save on water and time.


With a hill, Tetiva said, even though some plants might be labeled drought tolerant, on a slope they need extra care and water for about two years.


“After the second year this really took off,” she said.


Tetiva usually plants in the fall but if she knows bad weather is coming she holds off until spring.


“But who can predict that?” she laughed. “Overall, I've been lucky.”


Building up to the bloom

With the bare hillside eight years ago, Tetiva said she knew the design she wanted to take, but said she became too eager with her plantings.


“People want to overplant and put too much in, and within a few years, you'll have to dig some of it out,” she said. “I had to do some of that here.”


She uses some drift planting, a technique to use certain plants in a large area to make it look constructed purposefully and have a certain palette.


Tetiva doesn't have one favorite part of her garden and says she likes it as a whole.


While eating dinner at a neighbor's home one night, she turned and said in surprise, “Oh my God.”


“It caught me,” she said of her garden.


For all the years of primping her garden and seeing the same perspective, the scope of her work came through a new vision.


“I saw it from a whole new perspective,” she said.


A little bit easier

Tetiva moved here from Half Moon Bay, Calif., as a retired mortgage broker.


She said her garden isn't much different from last year when the magazine snapped its photos. It's also a large upgrade from her 60-foot by 100-foot garden back in California.


There Tetiva was a Rosarian and said when she came to Sequim she realized she wanted to learn something more than roses. However, part of her acreage includes a rose garden.


She's been asked to do a garden tour, but focuses most of her efforts on maintaining the Demonstration Garden in Water Reuse Demonstration Park. She's a member of the recently formed Olympic Peninsula Garden Society. Her next effort is to design a planned 6,000-square-foot rose garden with Nyenhuis.


Still, she's in her home garden daily and only weeds a few times a summer.


“It was eight years of back-breaking work, but each year it gets a little bit easier,” she said.



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