Their love story began when Barbara and Jim Rogers met in a church youth group in Santa Barbara, California, while Barbara was in high school and Jim in college. Eventually young love blossomed into engagement and a wedding 54 years ago.
In 1977, Weyerhaeuser transferred Jim Rogers to its headquarters in Federal Way. The couple thought the Pacific Northwest was a wonderful place to raise a family, and hoped to retire in Gig Harbor when the time came.
Both grew up with a love of gardening. Jim Rogers’ parents had a wonderful garden with large avocado trees, and he also worked as a landscaper while in college. Barbara Rogers’ grandmother instilled the joy of gardening in her, and even though her grandmother has been gone for many years, Barbara still feels her presence when working among her many well-tended plants.
The couple’s lovely, 3,800-square-foot, prairie-style home sits on about 3 acres of land tucked away into a forest of native trees and shrubs. The driveway opens onto a view of the home, a well-maintained lawn and the front garden plaza, designed and installed by Sue Goetz and Father Nature in 2016 when it became necessary to demolish a rickety grape arbor.
A round, wrought-iron table and chairs serve as a focal point for the paved plaza, and two walkways invite the visitor to explore the gardens beyond.
One such walkway leads past a golden coach, nestled into the shrubbery and replete with glass baubles and a life-sized glass slipper. A large, decoratively scrolled gate flanked by arborvitae trees raises the expectation that one is about to step into a fairy tale, as does a plaque installed near the gate that reads, “Once in a while, in the middle of an ordinary life, love brings us a fairy tale.”
The quote is taken from an anniversary card that Jim gave Barbara a few years back. Magically, just to the right, there is a giant, golden clock about to strike 12. Immediately ahead through the gate stands the coach house that is actually a garden tool shed creatively disguised.
The Cinderella Garden is inspired by the age-old fairy tale, and Barbara Rogers had been designing it in her head for some time. It finally came to life this spring after she and friends attended a screening of the Metropolitan Opera’s performance of “Cendrillon.”
A Francophile since studying the French language in high school, she has always laced her home and gardens with vestiges of French decor. She also believes life should be filled with fantasy and wonder, and provides special places inside the home and in the gardens for joy, wonder and excitement.
Once through the gate, the pathway enters the garden of the Fairy Godmother. An enchanted garden cart placed in the middle of a green-and-white bed of arborvitae, cleome and euphorbia ‘Glitz’ holds a glass-sculpted slipper, a candelabra and a mirror that reflects the vignette opposite. There, urns of green-and-white hydrangeas flank a trellis festooned with tulle that is ready for a gown and is held in place by little wire birds.
Next to that, a child-sized wheelbarrow filled with golden pumpkins sits next to a small filigree bench on which the Fairy Godmother is perched, wand in hand. James Moore helped with the hard work of planting the arborvitae behind the golden garden cart.
As the Cinderella Garden’s path turns left along the edge of a parterre, a bench commemorating the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary beckons the visitor to sit and rest a bit. Pathways lead from all sides into the center of the parterre, where a handsome, hand-crafted, four-sided teak arbor proudly guards a pedestal that supports a glass gazing ball.
Jim Rogers built the arbor from a kit when the garden was first established, soon after the Rogerses purchased the property 15 years ago. The previous owners had used the property as a small farm, and the parterre is located on a field once used to grow annual crops.
A wander through the parterre brings one to the entrance to the Fairy Garden, established years ago for the couple’s granddaughters. The meandering pathway is strewn with sparkly, glass jewels while mushrooms and toadstools emerge from under the native salal, and dozens of little fairy houses nestle among the plants.
Occasionally, there are fleeting glimpses of a fairy figure placed secretly on a tree trunk or behind a flower. One fairy sculpture lounges on an arbor bench with a stack of books. Barbara Rogers laughs as she explains the large number of houses and toadstools.
“I started collecting houses from thrift stores, and as friends and visitors experienced the fairy garden, they started bringing more to us, and the number grows every year,” she said. “I have no idea how many we have now.”
Every year when the little girls come to visit, Grandma Barbara arranges a treasure hunt, which ends in the Fairy Garden in a special, child-sized conversation area, a tradition she can’t imagine ever abandoning.
The idea for the Fairy Garden emerged when the Rogerses were wandering through the property, considering its purchase. As Barbara Rogers worked her way among the low-growing shrubs flanked by tall trees, she was sure she heard her grandmother whispering fairy stories to her.
The vast majority of decorative items found in the gardens have come from the couple’s enjoyment of foraging through thrift shops, yard sales and garden shops together. Their joint love of their home and garden and each other leads them to take time on a regular basis to look for interesting objects that can be transformed and added to one garden space or another. There are a dozen or more giant toadstools in the Fairy Garden that previously served as nonbreakable light-fixture covers. Picked up from a Habitat for Humanity shop, spray-painted and decorated with polka dots with the help of grandchildren, they perch on cut logs, serving as anchors for the theme.
The previous owners had established a strong framework of trees, shrubs and brick patios around the home, which was nine years old in 2003. Looking for property on which to build, the Rogerses located the home and fell in love with the house and the grounds. They immediately set about making it their own, and in 2010, their gardening prowess caught the attention of the Gig Harbor Garden Tour, which raises funds for literacy.
“Helping to raise money for literacy was a perfect fit, as I had run a volunteer reading tutoring program in Federal Way elementary schools,” Barbara Rogers said. She said they’ve never worked so hard in their lives to prepare for the tour, but were exhilarated by hosting more than 900 enthusiastic and appreciative visitors.
As Barbara and Jim Rogers were readying their garden for the 2010 tour, one of their grandsons touring the Fairy Garden said, “You know, Grandma, I’m not too fond of fairies!”
Immediately, she set about designing the Pirate Garden, complete with trunks of jewels and a trusty scow. As the little boys have grown up, the pirate area has become a relic, but still brings smiles to those who dare to explore it.
Leaving the darkness of the shady woods and the Fairy Garden, one steps into the light of the expansive, grassy back lawn, where the lulling sound of water can be heard. A babbling brook spills out of verdant shrubbery into a small pond.
A silhouette of a little boy fishing installed next to the pond looks just like the couple’s youngest grandson. A life-sized heron sculpture waits patiently in the shrubbery to the left for its chance to drink or catch a fish. The Pond Store of Sumner installed the water feature in 2011 — the first time the couple didn’t do the work themselves.
Their passion for gardening is fueled by a desire to share their love and their beautiful home and gardens with friends and family whenever possible. Seating areas are placed judiciously throughout the cultivated areas of the property. Designed to accommodate various times of day, sun, shade, rain, a simple drink or an entire meal, the seating areas welcome all to linger, chat and experience the joie de vivre offered in this lovely garden.
There is furniture facing the water feature, a cushioned “chat area” on a paved spot a little closer to the house and a “French cafe patio” with wrought-iron tables and chairs sheltered by umbrellas. Barbara and Jim Rogers were so pleased with the effect of the front patio, they invited the Father Nature crew back in 2017 to take out the original brick patio and replace it with the same type of pavers used in the front garden.
The very large, wraparound front porch is furnished like an outdoor living room with overstuffed furniture, decorative pillows and other accessories, which are changed out four times a year to reflect the march of the seasons.
“Husbands love to lounge here on the porch when their wives are touring the garden,” Barbara Rogers said.
Among the few changes the Rogerses have made to the house, with the exception of paint and new flooring, was the trim on the front porch. As the home is prairie-style in design, they wanted the bases and capitals of the porch posts as well as the railings to reflect that design style. Jim Rogers did all of that work himself.
Inside the home, the decor also changes seasonally. The base decor is intentionally neutral to accommodate a seasonal change of paintings, throw pillows and other accessories. Even the cookbook shelf changes as Barbara Rogers replaces items from her vast collection, using pastel covers for spring; vibrantly colored books for summer; golds, browns and oranges for fall; and, of course, reds and greens at Christmas time.
The cozy kitchen sports a large, copper hood over the gourmet cooktop and a rack of copper pots, pans and decorative ware. On the wall adjacent to the kitchen table is a large bulletin board totally covered with hundreds of photos of beloved friends, family members and pets.
The dining room is the pride and joy of this Francophile hostess with the mostest. It is called the “Paris Room,” and walking into it through the door, one is truly transported thousands of miles away to some place in Paris.
A painted gold-filigree medallion on the ceiling is softly illuminated by the light of the crystal chandelier hanging over the center of the large, polished mahogany table. A sideboard, corner cupboard and china closet hold unapologetically copious, artfully arranged mementos of the Rogerses’ life together, fine china and crystal and objects such as fleur-de-lis. Candles add to the warmth and ambiance when they are hosting a dinner party or even a breakfast for visiting grandchildren. The children often ask to eat in the Paris Room, and Barbara fixes them specialties such as French toast and croissants.
Her love of chandeliers transcends home and garden. Upstairs in the master bedroom, lovely, large chandelier hangs over the bed, its light reflected from the French-style gold mirror perched over the highboy dresser. Even the dog kennel, the garden home for Gracie the golden retriever, sports a chandelier of colorful tennis balls.
A garden is ever changing, growing, evolving. Apple trees planted by the original owners but not producing well were replaced with a border of parrotia trees, resplendent with autumn color in the fall. The parterre has evolved from a formal design when originally planted to a more flowery, blousy look today.
From the moment they set foot on their beautiful property to the present day, Barbara and Jim Rogers have worked together to make their home and garden a place for family and friends to visit, rest and enjoy the fruits of their labors.
“Throughout our lives, my imagination has led me to fantasize about new creations inside and out. Jim has lovingly and amazingly gone along with my dreams and helped make them come true — he is “unbelievable,” said a smiling, adoring Barbara Rogers. Her beloved prince, Jim, just shyly shrugs and grins.