Richard Hull and Louise Hathaway, in front of their hibiscus. Photo by Starla Smith
Richard Hull and Louise Hathaway, in front of their hibiscus. Photo by Starla Smith
When Louise Hathaway and Richard Hull bought their house on Bigelow Street, the backyard had a few hydrangeas and some leftover fruit trees from an old orchard. There was a pear tree, two plum trees, an apple tree and a peach tree.

The fruit trees all went away — death by choice. And Hathaway and Hull set about turning the remints of an orchard into their own private show garden.

“This house is over 100 years old,” Hathaway explained, “so the orchard came first, and the house, second.”

Now nestled among their colorful flowers and decorative trees, there’s a birdbath and a hummingbird feeder hanging from a lattice, as well as three sitting areas, a patio table with an umbrella and five chairs. Halfway down the left side of the garden, two chairs with a small table between them invite a tête-à-tête. And in the far left corner, a bench nestles under the birch trees.

“That pink-flowering dogwood tree outside our sitting parlor is the first tree we planted,” Hull remembers. “It was a gift from our former neighbors.”

“We have planted every tree and bush that is on this property,” Hathaway adds. “We have put in all the arbors and plant boxes and grapevines.”

No hired help: They do all their own maintenance. 

Preserving privacy

Originally, when this house was built in 1908, it was the first house in in the neighborhood. The old Children’s Hospital was behind where Safeway is now located.

Their home has had only three owners, Hathaway and Hull being the third. Bertha Guggi, a little Swiss woman, was the second. But there is very little known about the original owner.

“In 1981, we were already living on Queen Anne,” Hathaway reminisced. “We actually lived next door to the house we bought from Mrs. Guggi. That apartment building has been now replaced by condos (Barcelona Court).

“We raised our children, Elliott and Amelia, here,” she continued. “Elliott was 2 when we moved into this house in 1983. He is 31 now, and Amelia is 27.”

When Guggi’s husband passed in the 1960s, she took in boarders. So when their children grew up and moved out, Hathaway and Hull followed suit, turning their house into a guesthouse/boardinghouse. They named it “Suite Bigelow.”

They have since planted trees to create a barrier between their home and Barcelona Court.

“We wanted privacy,” Hull explained. “There’s a Korean dogwood in the front part of our property. And when the three-story, box-style houses were built outside the back corner of our garden, we planted birch trees for additional cover.” 

Colorful, fragrant backdrop

Their garden contains lilacs, a grape arbor and maple trees. “We have red maples,” Hull said, “one at the front in a pot and one in the ground, and we have vine maples.”

There’s also a magnolia tree in the back with pretty, pink, teacup flowers, plus one white lilac bush and one purple one. And there is jasmine, as well as tall columns of colorful sweet peas. Other flowers include purple, white and pink clematis and zinnias. But Hill advises that this is not the best climate for zinnias: They like it really hot and really dry.

Most of all, there are no tomatoes and veggies.

“I decided that I wanted flowers and fragrance more than I wanted a bell pepper,” Hathaway proclaims, “so we planted white lilies called ‘Casablancas.’ It’s an Oriental lily and my favorite variety. They are majestic, late-summer bloomers.”

As for the roses, Hull insists, “They’ve always been Louise’s roses; I’m just the one who tends them.

“We’ve had our dahlias for 20 years,” Hathaway said. “The peonies are also wonderful in the spring — we have cerise and magenta. Those are the only flowers left over from Mrs. Guggi’s era.”

“But the most magnificent flora we have in our garden is the white wisteria that blooms in late May,” Hull said. “Nobody has wisteria like that.”

“The garden smells really special at different times of the year,” Hathway chimes in. “In the spring, it smells like Daphne, which is always a beautiful smell, and of course, the lilacs. And our ‘Casablanca’ lilies are at their best right now.”

A pathway, surrounded by vines and various foliage leads to the front of the house, where the cousin to the ‘Casablanca’ lily reigns. Up the front steps, just below the porch level, more white lilies thrive. Below, on the west side of the house, another path leads back to the garden, guarded by the tall, pink dogwood tree.

Over the years, the 6-foot trees they planted have grown to 30 feet high. Woodpeckers come through, as do goldfinches and hummingbirds. As if by signal, a tiny hummingbird flutters its way to a high branch of a nearby tree.

“Nowadays,” Hathaway said, smiling, “I just sit outside and bask in the flora and fauna.”

STARLA SMITH is a longtime Queen Anne resident. To suggest a Queen Anne/Magnolia resident to be featured in “Starla Speaks,” email

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