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Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Fritz’

(Written in 2010: Reblogged in 2013 to show that the gorgeous house is for sale.  It sold in late 2013.)

Allan is in Seattle at his mother’s funeral as I write this, and I am remembering her and her garden.  Because his trip involved a day of preparation and, afterwards, a day of legal and family matters, I have stayed here to work yesterday and tomorrow, and to have this one day off, theoretically to do some desperately needed work in our own garden. But at this moment, I am reminisicing about Ruth’s lovely garden.  By the time I got to know her, her health prevented her from doing much gardening, but she had designed a landscape with such elegant and Asian-influenced structure that even without the annual colour which she used to add, the tranquil atmosphere remained.

Ruth's front garden

Ruth’s front garden

Ruth and Dale’s house was originally in the path of the freeway; Dale had it moved and rebuilt it in a north Seattle neighbourhood where it stands out like a fairytale cottage surrounded by more modern (fifties style) houses. She used to fill that triangular area by the front door with annual colour.

back garden

Ruth’s back garden

By the lower side of the house is a quiet, green back garden, where she continually struggled to have a patch of perfect lawn under the trees.  While that was an ongoing dilemma, the surrounding beds were filled with good shrubs and perennials, well arranged and soothing to the eye. I used to tell her that a moss “lawn” would fit in well with the Japanese garden style, and I think if we had had more time we might have been able to help with some sort of river rock look…But the small problem with the lawn was miniscule in comparison to the charm of the entire garden, and her determination to make that lawn a success was a source of many garden conversations around the kitchen table. While I had known Allan since we were in high school, we were only together for the last few years of Ruth’s life, so I never saw the garden at its peak of her gardening.  Its continued good looks were a testament to her good design.

in Ruth's back garden

in Ruth’s back garden

in Ruth's back garden

looking toward fish pond

Ruth's lawn and garden

Ruth’s lawn and garden

In the back corner of the lower garden is a fish pond with a waterfall, built by Dale. You could see the fish and feed them from a window in the daylight basement. Because of the way the house sits on the hill, Ruth said door to door salespeople would go first to the back door, then to the front door, thinking they were at two different houses.

view of new house

view of new house

It was rather a shock when, during the Seattle real estate building boom of 2005, a monstrous new house was built across the street, where once had been a small house and a soothing backdrop of trees.  The view from Ruth’s back yard was radically changed and she had plans and hopes for some new plantings to bring the green, enclosed feeling back.

daylight basement window

daylight basement window

Ruth also excelled at growing houseplants, and when Dale rebuilt the house she asked him to design this window overlooking the back garden sanctuary.  The indoor planting bed actually goes down into the earth and makes one feel indoors and outdoors at the same time….

fern walk

fern walk

Walking along NE 90th Street, one would pass the bed of sword ferns and white primroses and the trees that Ruth and Dale had planted in the parking strip.  One thing Allan and I could do for Ruth when we would visit in February for the garden show was to prune back the ferns so they were all fresh and green each year.  If we had lived in Seattle, we might have worked with her to add some cool perennials instead of lawn to that slope by the street; what a great space for a plant palette that would have been! Allan tells me there was some unfortunate pruning of the shrubs in 2009 by an inexperienced garden crew, so if one of my Seattle friends does walk by, the garden might not look as green as I remember it!

weeping tree

weeping tree

Ruth told me the common name of this gorgeous tree outside the front door.  It would try to revert to straight-up, and Allan or I would get into the center and prune out those branches, as she used to do when she had more vigor.  She told me that it had amazing foliage colour in the fall.

close up of weeping tree

close up of weeping tree

If any reader knows what this tree is, please let me know!

side view of the house from NE 90th

plants

bonding over cool plants

For several garden shows, we stayed at Ruth and Dale’s house and would always bring a couple of cool, shade perennials to add to her back garden.  One summer we went to the Bainbridge in Bloom tour…sadly, Ruth was too frail to accompany us to any of these garden events.  We filled her patio temporarily with the stash of collectible plants till we left to transport them back to Peninsula gardens and she admired and discussed each one.  (You can see her tree fuchsias and baskets in the background). Of course, we had added a few special plants to her garden on that weekend (Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’ being one).

The whole time I wrote this was the time her funeral was going on in Seattle.  Ruth, thinking of you…

Ruth Marie FRITZ Ruth Marie Fritz, 80, was born to Beulah and Leo Fones on May 23, 1929 in Julesberg, CO and died at her home May 3, 2010 in Seattle, WA. She was surrounded by family as she passed away. Ruth was raised in Salinas, California and attended San Francisco City College School of Nursing and completed her training through Children’s Hospital. It is there she met Dale Fritz and they married on August 27, 1950. They have been happily married for 59 years. Ruth leaves behind loving husband Dale and their children, Allan Fritz (Skyler) Ilwaco, WA, Robert Fritz Seattle, WA, and Pam Stockman (John) Seattle, WA. Ruth is also survived by brother Harold Fones (Dorothy) Cayucos, CA, sister-in-law Dorothy Lindstrom, Minneapolis, MN, numerous nieces and nephews, and granddaughter Pearl Fritz. Ruth was a kind and nurturing wife, mother and homemaker tending to all details for a rich, beautiful home and family life. Ruth was a lifetime member of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and longtime Camp Fire Girl leader, leaving a legacy of service, good character, and stewardship of the environment for many women who have been touched by her. A Celebration of her Life will be held at University Lutheran Church, 1604 NE 50th St., Seattle, Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 1pm with reception following. Remembrances can be made to King County Search and Rescue Association @ King County Sheriff’s Office, 7300 Perimeter Road South, Room 143 Seattle, WA 98108-3848.

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