The most memorable gardens in Vancouver were on display during the Heritage Vancouver Annual Garden Tour. This fundraiser provides the public with an insider view of private grounds in celebrated areas of Vancouver such as Point Grey and Shaughnessy. Proceeds go towards this worthwhile society that celebrates and treasures Vancouver’s cultural heritage and diversity. To check out their website click here.
I attended this self-guided, two day garden tour last year as well and wrote a blog about it here. Many of the gardens belong to restored heritage homes that span the decades. Such wonderful gardens should be shared so I wrote a blog about it here.
This year's gardens did not disappoint. Each one had something to offer with creative and functional designs that ranged from carefully arranged formal to casual cottage. June is the perfect time of the year for such things as garden tours are bursting with blossoms - especially roses! I love to visit other people's gardens as they never fail to inspire me to be more creative. There's always so many imaginative ideas, funky garden decor, brilliant colour combos and innovative substitutes for lawns that it is certainly worthwhile the price of admission. It's only $35.00 per person and the money is going to a worthwhile cause.
As with last year's blog, I have included a small description of each garden along with pictures that I hope do the gardens justice. Some of the homeowners requested that no pictures were allowed, therefore, I have not included their gardens in this pictorial essay.
Garden # 1: A Topiary Garden
Built in 1946, this quaint house and garden has evolved with the help of reclaimed and recycled plants, hardscaping and garden accents. The entrance to this delightful but somewhat unusual garden, begins with a rose covered arbour atop a skillfully made wooden path. But that’s not what caught my eye; it was the dramatic grouping of blue delphiniums framed by a huge green cloud-like evergreen topiary. There were numerous larger than life tightly clipped evergreens throughout this small manicured garden. The giant topiary of a martini glass, stir-stick and olive included, was a whimsical and humorous touch. A bit of whimsy continued into the back yard with an upcycled, pretty blue ‘she-shed’. It was the perfect accent to the circular paved patio that provided an idyllic spot to enjoy this well-thought out garden.
Garden #2 Botanical Treasures and Old World Charm
Walking into this 1910 property’s garden felt like going back in time. The mossy old flagstone path is lined with a plethora of plush plants that thrive in the shady, moist conditions. It meanders to the back fence and exits into an enchanting sunken garden reminiscent of an old fashioned museum display. Instead of antiquities, the boxes are filled with edible botanical treasures. They poke their way through the wooden display boxes that are topped with matching lids. Flowers awaits those that climb the stairs to the spacious upper deck. A grapevine laces its way overhead with dangling grape clusters. It extends beyond the covered area and wraps around the walls enclosing a bevy of beautiful dahlias, miniature hostas, begonias and a glorious clematis. This truly is a garden full of delightful botanical treasures - oh and no lawn included!
Garden #3 Riley Park Community Gardens
It was such a nice surprise to find a community garden participating in the tour, especially one with so much to offer. Riley Park Community Garden is not just a vegetable garden, it produces organically grown veggies, fruit and flowers whilst educating the public. The many demonstration gardens show off drought tolerant plants, ground covers as lawn replacement alternatives, a pollinator garden, herbs, espaliered fruit trees, native berries and much more. Functioning compost bins, rainwater harvesting, upcycling of used items are a few of the innovative and exciting ideas that make this volunteer run garden a gem among those on the tour.
Garden #4 Small But Functional
A tiny garden sits at the back of a townhouse that was once part of a 1930 Craftsman house. Its entrance begins with a bold black planter full of coleus, fuchsias and other shade loving lovelies. An amusing frog statue begrudgingly guards the way to the back yard. Every inch of space has been utilized to its full potential, including the small strips of earth at the bottom of the fences. They are planted with hostas, astilbes and other suitable shade loving perennials that aren’t going to become too unruly. To maximize space and to accommodate the needs of the owners, the backyard consists of two small but well-appointed areas - a sunny garden and a sunken patio with comfortable seating to enjoy year round. Just goes to show that limited spaces can functional and beautiful.
Garden #6 No Lawn Needed
There’s no need for a lawn when perennials provide colour, texture and form. A simple bistro table and chairs are nestled into the scene by surrounding plants. They provide a diverse palette of greens, purples, whites and bright chartreuse. Leaf textures and shapes are combined to either complement one another or make others become the star like the soft pink filipendula that rises above its lower companions. An elegant urn sits at the corner of this refurbished house that was originally built in 1907 – imagine that! The urn points the way to a back yard full of sunny perennials including a stunning salmon pink cape fuchsia and blue veronica spires. It’s obvious, there’s really no need for a lawn.
Garden #7 An Artist’s Palette
This simple garden doesn’t boast a plethora of floral beauties and rarities, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. The owner, Rae Mate is an artist and her studio in the backyard sits under a magnificent twisted trunk of an old plum tree. Below the tree a table is decorated with deep blue bachelor buttons atop a matching blue and white tablecloth. A red climbing rose accents the door to the charming studio. Yellow and white daisies and yellow loosestrife work perfectly with the many blue accents; the birdbath, starry sky petunias, clustered bellflower and blue-black petunias. It’s an effective use of colour and with added ornamental features artfully placed and arranged, it’s easy to tell an artist lives here.
The twisted trunk of an old plum tree provides accent to the patio.
Garden #8 No Lawn, No Problem
Instead of a lawn, pale blue stars of the aptly named blue star creeper, hug the boulevard and flow between the stepping stones. After many years of losing the fight against chafer beetles, the owners decided to scrap the lawn. To take its place, the front garden consists of geometrically arranged heathers and boxwoods. They form strong lines among the perennials and shrubs. There’s no lawn in the backyard either, but there’s a striking rectangular pond. Japanese Forest grass, a sweet Japanese maple and happy hostas work to accent strategically placed large rocks, which are fringed with round pebbles. The garden is designed by Radina Jevdevic.
Garden #9 Gothic Romantic
Old, discoloured recycled red bricks from days gone by surround this romantic style garden. The bricks, salvaged from around the city, were selected for their patina resulting in old English gothic charm. The enchanting brick wall not only encloses the garden, it provides for intimate seating that’s shyly placed for solitary contemplation or a romantic rendezvous. With such a setting, plants act as features that invite attention. The theme continues into the backyard with old moss covered pavers and generous stone stairs. They lead the way to the raised brick vegetable beds and patio, which features a simple fountain that pores water from grey blocks into a hollow below. It a harmonious garden that blends the softness of the plants with the aged brick and stone. It’s a delightful visit into another time and another place.
Garden #10 French Formal Sophistication
This garden is one of French formal elegance that showcases perfect pink roses, sky blue hydrangeas and deep green tightly clipped boxwoods. It’s a sophisticated design with a colour scheme that pairs well with the blue framed windows. Spiral topiaries in elegant urns, life-size statues, rose covered arbours and mass plantings of roses surrounded by boxwood hedges are the epitome of elegance.
Formality is left behind when proceeding to the back garden. Hostas, ferns and other shade loving perennials casually line the path that opens up to a spectacular back garden. We are greeted by an ornate French-style white pavilion that dominates the rear of the garden. A spacious circular seating area, fire pit included, sits in the foreground. Garden beds attached to the house repeat the pink and blue from the front garden, but instead of a formal design, it's charmingly casual. Loose and feathery hot pink astilbes, sky blue delphiniums and creeping bellflowers work together to create a French masterpiece. The pavilion and fire pit was designed by Tammy Anne Garden Design.
Garden #11 A Garden of Many
the The original Mock Tudor house was built in 1922, but both house and garden were totally redone in 1999. An expansive English styled garden greets visitors upon arrival. It's replete with a large circular pond and fountain. There are many themes within this garden including a rockery, a Mexican patio or ‘terraza’, a vegetable garden, herbs, fruit trees and berry bushes. It has it all. The owners are avid gardeners with collections of rhododendrons as well as hellebores and other perennials. It doesn’t stop there; as with many enthusiastic and able gardeners on the tour, they’ve also taken over the back and side lane!
Garden #12 Art and Roses
It’s the little things that make this garden unique, as unique as the sculptures that grow among the greenery. They were made by the owner herself, Judy Osburn, who is not just an accomplished artist, she’s also a passionate gardener. Roses fill the beds, scramble up the 1910 Craftsman house and tumble over arbors. Nestled among the vegetation and artfully arranged sculptures is a pond swimming with golden koi. The garden doesn’t stop within the fence, but extends to the neighbouring lane for everyone to enjoy.
Garden #13 – A Cottage Garden
This cottage style garden is replete with a white picket fence, roses and hollyhocks. It is the perfect match to this 1912 house for the nostalgic design and use of plants. There’s so many flowers including a plethora of shrubs and a vast array of perennials. Plants are featured in blocks and en masse to make a big impact. The robust shrubs and perennials are no shrinking violets. There’s an impressive goatsbeard plant, a standout variegated red twig dogwood, a darling pink and a white hydrangea. This well-thought out sumptuous cottage garden is simply stunning.
Here are some of my previous blog postings. They cover a wide range of topics from bugs to my botanical excursions and conventions. Click on whichever interests you on the titles below for easy navigation.