Featured Gardens: City Modern
The owners of this garden wanted to transform a long, featureless strip of grass into an extension of their living space, with several different functional areas, and a unique, playful character. They had a limited budget, and the site, which had compacted gravel and paving beneath the grass, required extensive soil preparation.
Close to the house we created a quiet sitting nook; a small flagstone circle sheltered by planting and a fanciful copper and cedar trellis. We planted a ‘Dawyck Purple’ Beech on one side to reflect the colour and verticality of the house architecture, a Weeping Dawn Redwood, and a Japanese Maple ‘Suminagashi’ on the other side to be viewed from the kitchen.
A dry river bed of black Mexican river rock, curving from one side of the garden to the other, and with a stepped bridge over it, creates a sense of mystery and invitation. To extend the visual width of the garden, we built arched, mirrored portals on either side for the river to appear to flow through. One of these portals doubles as a screen for the barbecue area. A winding path of flagstones in pea gravel leads from the house to the bridge over the dry riverbed. The ‘riverside’ planting includes Irish Moss, Wintergreen, ‘Ice Dance’ Sedge and Hostas. Willow screens help create a woodland feeling in a very small area.
The dining and entertainment area consists of a raised deck with a pergola above. We angled the deck in order to break down the bowling alley effect and allow for pockets of planting alongside it, framing the view. We planted a Slender Hinoki Cypress, flanked on either side by Emerald Cedars, Blue Prince Holly, and a Chinese Flowering Dogwood.
The third zone is the activity/ play area. We gave the lawn a very defined winding form, with curved planting beds and curved benches alongside it, to release it from the geometry of the fence lines and to create a whimsical element. One of the curved benches has a middle section that doubles as an arbor, an arch that appears to be lifted up out of the bench seat. We planted a combination of strategically placed evergreens to obscure some harsh winter views, shrubs and perennials for colour, and grasses to soften the starkness of the neighbour’s garage wall.
The owners are thrilled with the results and so are we!