Meeting Kirk Willis

Kirk’s blue and forest green garden is described best by one of my favorite words,…woodsy!  He lives and gardens in Eastern Washington State where tall pines grows and deer and bears abound.  Well, maybe most of the bears are carved wooden bears, but if you visited Kirk’s garden, I’m sure you’d be greeted with a friendly bear hug!

First off, you're likely to see Bart, greeting you when you enter.

Gardening in the Pacific Northwest
Kirk says, “We’re here in the woods of Eastern Washington and have been known to have some pretty cold temperatures and harsh winters with lots of snow.”

“We built our house 11 years ago and no landscaping had been done as I wanted free reign!  I love it in that I had an empty palette to create our yard and gardens, deciding where the gardens ended and nature and the woods began.”

Near the entrance of his Zone 5b garden is a seating area that makes a transition from his yard where the kids play and the thickly growing woods. A wonderful gardener, husband and father, he also is an elementary school teacher and passes on his love for nature, gardening and crafts to his class through his teaching.

Deer are discouraged by growing vegetables in half-barrels.

Kirk tells us, “My gardens are cottage like gardens…a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  I call them my “friendship gardens” because most of my plants and flowers have been gifts from the gardens of friends and family members.  I often refer to my plants by the names of the people who gave the plants to me.  :o)”

A brilliant blue totem, assembled from cobalt vases. It surrounded with lilies, Lady's mantle and groundcover strawberries.

Passing on the love of gardening
My love for gardening came from my late Dad who was passionate about his gardens, especially his roses.  Dad’s love of gardening came from my Grandma.  I have seen incredible photos of her in her gardens.   When I was a boy, people would walk by our home and ask for a tour of Dad’s gardens.

"An old gate with tools on it...many were given to me by family and friends."

Dad was also an avid junker…he would always be bringing home “treasures” and placed many rusty items in the gardens as decorations.  As a boy I loved going to garage sales with my Dad and Dad’s sister, my Aunt.  Now, I love taking my own children thrifting and to garage sales and smile when they are excited about a treasure they have found.

Ladybug rocks

“Last year, my 11 year old daughter, Olivia, got the idea to paint lady bug rocks! She gathered rocks from our property and couldn’t stop until she painted a HERD of ladybugs! LOL Aren’t they the cutest? She placed them in a corner of her swing set area. My creative daughter! I’m so proud of her!,” says Kirk.

Kirk's fine potting bench, built with the help of his son, Ben.

“I have so many garden creations I have enjoyed making…my potting bench was a work of love, gathering the materials for several years.”

Kirk has definite colors and materials he likes, the woods surrounding the gardens have influenced him to lean toward a rustic style with a bit of bling. He and his creative wife, Carol, love to make wind chimes, dish flowers, birdhouses and stained glass. That they share these new treasures with friends and family is no surprise because many of his favorite home and garden objects have been handed down over the years in his family. Tradition!

Kirk's penny ball took $8-10 worth of pennies and was glued with GE Silicone II

“Here’s a very simple birdfeeder I made similar to the idea of teacup birdfeeders. I used a thrift store glass dish and glued it to A Dollar Store candle plate. I attached a copper cap to the bottom so I can take it off the copper pole in the winter or to wash it.”

Rust and cobalt, cobalt and rust
“I love rust, rust and rust in my gardens. I also love anything cobalt blue…totems, bottle trees, wind chimes, decorative accents all in cobalt blue…  I love primitive, rustic items,” says Kirk.

“I love to create places to sit and relax and take in the beauty of the gardens and the surrounding woods and nature. I love water features as well.   What is neat is that I recently reconnected with my cousin Annie.  We have similar garden tastes with similar “treasures” in our gardens…like a watering can water feature!  Kindred spirits!”

“The first major creation I put together was my watering can water feature…I love the sound of flowing water in the garden.  This feature is right next to our front porch where we sit in our rocking chairs and relax…and breathe…

“You can’t see it but I placed a small rustic board across the back of the top of the barrel and attached the pump to that.  I drilled a hole in the board and threaded the tubing through that and an old watering can, added some glass floats. This sits by our covered, country, front porch where sit in our porch rockers and relax to the sound,” Kirk says.

Family Tradition
“My most favorite pieces are my late Father’s Adirondack chairs.  He had built these chairs years ago…I found them in a rubbish pile after my mother had passed away but they were still in excellent condition.  I restored them with love, thinking of my Dad during the whole process.

My family and I sit in these chairs on summer evenings…and I can’t help but feel Dad is with us there.  One of my favorite quotes:

Did you ever think how a bit of land shows the character of the owner?” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

You’ll find more of Kirk’s ideas on Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and on GardenWeb Trash to Treasure forum.  Look for anything cobalt blue.  ~~ Sue

See MORE of Kirk’s garden and projects:

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17 thoughts on “Meeting Kirk Willis

  1. I,m sure I,ve seen your things here at face book.My whole fb is diy gardens and junk.Sorry to say,the lady bugs didnt come through.Maybe they are hibernating.

  2. Sue Pagels

    There are so many things I love in these pictures, but most of all, the feeling of relaxation, love and contentment! Beautiful!

  3. Marie Niemann

    Wonderful story for a great man with his obvious love of nature and rusty treasures and especially cobalt blue. He’s such an inspiration to everyone with fantastic idea’s he’s always more than willing to share.

  4. George

    Great garden Kirk I especially like the ladybugs. I think is a great thing to share with your children . Something that will last in both your memories for ever . Thank for sharing a little glimpse of your world with us.

  5. Nell Howard Stelzer

    I love your gardens,Kirk ,and all of your treasures and creations ! You have inspired me on lots of my projects ,I have my blue totem in the house for now and I will do a penny ball this spring. Your love for family,nature,flowers and treasures are there in your gardens. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Sue,I love your blogs. It is good to see the whole picture of the gardens. Thanks !


  6. I so wanted to see the rock painted ladybugs :0(

  7. Jimmye Porter

    So inspiring, lots of places for rest & relaxation – loved all the areas of the garden/yard/woods. The use of the cobalt blue throughout the entire area is stunning. I have seen some of these projects while browsing through the photo albums… most of his projects really get my mind to buzzing (hmmmm, wonder if I could recreate something close to that)… nice to read the profile of the man & his family through this blog… thanks Sue. :))

  8. Nancy K. Meyer

    What a great story about a wonderful gardener. I was shown the greatness of blue in a garden by kirk’s posts. I also love the ladybugs. Keep up the good work both of you–Kirk and Sue.

  9. Sheron Olson

    This is a wonderful article all about Kirk. I always look forward to his post and I can’t thank you enough for featurning him!

  10. When adoration of life and family is prevalent, it shows in everything you do. So, not surprising that Kirk Willis has a “grip” on his gardens. Lovely displays of flea market finds matched with beautiful surroundings, we are indeed lucky to share his cozy surroundings through his scenic pictures. I only wish he were my neighbor!

  11. Larry Langley (Tractor Man)

    We haven’t met Kirk personally yet but have become “close” friends thru Flea Market Gardening. We both admire his commitment to family and friends as well as his (and his family) creativity. Looking forward to actually meeting Kirk and his family.

  12. Ryder Country Daylilies

    Thanks Kirk for sharing all your ideas and creations. Can’t wait to see whats next.

  13. Annie Steen

    Wow…..This was great seeing all of Kirk’s pictures and his story put together, I missed a lot theses garden shots on FMG.
    Thanks Sue great piece ~ And thank you Kirk for sharing!….

  14. Jeanne Sammmons

    Feeling right at home here strolling in Kirk’s gardens ! Always enjoy his posts & comments as he shares such unique ideas & his compassion for nature is just a silhoutte of his true person as a family man & teacher. Thanks for sharing, Kirk, & thanks, Sue, for the wonderful post!

  15. Julie Brown

    I don’t know how I missed this article. Kirk, you are awesome! I really enjoyed reading about you and I love all of your pictures. Another good job Suzy. :)

  16. ABSOLUTELY a wonderful man. I enjoy all your posts. I wish you would think of having a YouTube channel. It would be like personally walking your gardens with you. I want to thank you for bringing more happiness, beauty and love into my life. Smiles, Lark

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