If you’ve ever had the good fortune to visit Greece, you probably wanted to put a piece of this amazing country in your pocket to bring home as a souvenir!
Kim Brewer and Rick Main traveled to Greece in 2005 for five weeks and fell in love with the country. “Our time in Greece was life-changing,” Kim remembers.“We both wanted to bring our experiences in Greece back home and create a landscape that captured the essence of our travels.”
Two years later they bought a 1 ½-acre lot on a steep hillside west of the Yakima Training Center that fit their needs perfectly. They began building in December 2007 and when they asked their contractor, Mark Helms, when the house would be done, Helms told them, June 13, 2008. To Kim and Rick’s surprise, Helms handed them the keys on June 13, 2008!
Kim Brewer owns a popular styling salon and art gallery in downtown Selah, and Rick teaches elementary school for the Selah School District. Since moving into their new home, both men have spent countless hours after work cultivating the garden that now circles their lovely house.
“We decided our new home would have a garden, reflective of our climate in Yakima, matched with the Greek gardening we experienced on our trip to that country.”
That meant 1) no grass, and 2) drought-tolerant plants.
Several years ago, I was fortunate to write about Kim and Rick’s beautiful house. The home’s large, west-facing windows capture a breathtaking view of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams rising above the Cascade Range in the distance. At that time, they were just starting on their high-country garden.
Today their property bursts with a variety of hardy plants of every description, including yellow currant, red yucca, salvia, mock orange, smoke bush and lavender that loves growing on the hillside. Additionally, after the excavation of the lot, they reseeded sagebrush back into its natural habitat.
A well provides water and a drip line delivers it throughout their extensive gardens.
Even though the property has a long, unpaved driveway to the house, Kim and Rick decided to build a switchback trail up their steep back garden hill to the roadway. Rick took on the task, using a pick, shovel and wheelbarrow to carve out a walkway. “We had rock spalls (small chips of rock) delivered and spent hours slowly stacking larger rocks to line the various pathways,” Kim explained. The project took 10 years to finish and unfortunately, Rick underwent shoulder surgery as a result. However, the trail with its plants truly complements their garden. It also allows visitors to get a wonderful Valley view as they climb to the top.
Their walled courtyard, adjacent to their dining room and kitchen, was the first outdoor addition and was completed right before they moved into the house. The space offers a covered patio that leads to an exterior area that’s enclosed by vine-covered walls, and inset with an artistic window made from a sidewalk grate found in Seattle. They love dining al fresco with friends and relish displaying their collection of unusual objects d’art in the courtyard. The wooden gate designed by Selah artist Rob Blackaby, inset with a metal design, truly seems to capture the Mediterranean ambiance of the setting.
As you walk around their property you will find multiple areas to sit and enjoy the view. “We named the property and house SageBluff Heights,” Kim said. As visitors look down the hill, they get a great view of the Roza Canal. Kim likes to call it “Rozalumbia” and considers it a “borrowed” water feature. They already have three water features in their garden.
Kim and Rick placed chairs and side tables around the yard for guests to pause, enjoy a glass of wine and take in the beauty of their wonderful garden. It’s not unusual to spot quail, hawks, golden eagles and pheasant, as well as an occasional otter playing in the canal.
Sometimes they will open their home for fundraising dinners and they have three large outdoor tables to accommodate guests. Guy Brooke of Naches made the large cement table and benches, reminiscent of a Greek design, perfect for small dinner parties.
They both enjoy finding a variety of cast-off objects and incorporating them into the outdoor decorating scheme. Rick came across some old metal baskets that long ago were used at the Yakima City Creamery for delivering bottles of milk. Both men thought they could create a great chicken coop out of them.
They had second thoughts the day they discovered that their chickens had chowed down on a bunch of baby mice! However, things got worse and their “Green Acres” fantasy turned to fear when they discovered a very mean, claw-flashing badger had breached the coop and swallowed up a chicken! The badger was dispatched and the end of the chicken coop followed. Today, it’s become a much more useful space — a potting shed.
One can’t visit the SageBluff Heights garden without noticing a long runway covered in white rock just off the driveway. It took Kim and Rick some time to complete, but today friends and family can come over and enjoy a fun game of Bocce Ball. The game is popular in Europe and its ancestry dates back to the Roman Empire.
Although Kim and Rick have a number of years before they retire, their home and garden has become a relaxing retreat to wind down after work. It has taken a massive amount of hard work to create this amazing oasis, but both men would agree that the result has been well worth it.
In fact, in recent years a number of garden clubs have bused their members to Eastern Washington to have a visit, and the garden has been featured on the annual Yakima Arboretum Tour.
But probably the biggest honor happened when renowned Northwest gardener Cisco Morris, a Seattle Times Garden Writer and International Master Gardener, honored Rick and Kim by visiting their property. He came back again — and SageBluff Heights is now a certified Heritage Garden, which means it is drought tolerant and includes local plants and geological items.