A BC Award-winning Outdoor Living Space

Working around the existing features, landscape designers intensified this classic garden with radiance, lushness, and creativity, winning the BCLNA Award of Excellence in the process

Credit: Andreas Sirois

Designed by Vera Bedard of Blasig Landscape Design, the garden won a BCLNA Award of Excellence.

Good “bones,” timeless design and lush plantings create an outdoor living space with lasting appeal

When Teresa and Fred Sharp bought their home 16 years ago, it didn’t take them long to make the first change: child-proofing the swimming pool. With an active toddler, Alex, and daughter Natalie on the way, it was essential to peace of mind. Several years later, the children had become excellent swimmers and it seemed the right time to take on a complete renovation of the pool and surrounding area.

Teresa and Fred had a vision of what theywanted when they called in Blasig Landscape Design: a large upper patio, an area for sunbathing, an outside kitchen area with a built-in barbecue, good traffic flow with wide, comfortable walkways and a nice lawn area.

Vera Bedard, designer on the project, reflects, “The design was a collaborative effort – the owners were really involved in the process. They had lived in and with the space for many years, so were very familiar with how they used the areas, and the corrections they wished to make.

The choice of materials was the biggest challenge on this site. “Quite a bit of time and consideration was given to co-ordinate the various elements of the design,” says Vera. “The colour of the plaster in the pool was chosen to create water colour that complements the buttery tone of the surrounding flagstone.”

Terraces beside the stairway to the lower gardenA gently curving path LEFT: Terraces beside the stairway to the lower garden display colour throughout the season: a blue lace cap hydrangea and large rosemary on one side of the staircase complement the Meidiland roses and perennials opposite. Moveable terra-cotta pots provide season interest.
RIGHT: A gently curving path beckons the viewer past a pink hydrangea. (Images: Andrea Sirois)

The existing stairs to the lower garden were refinished at the same time so that the materials (Brohm stone) would match the planters and the barbecue.

The studio in the lower garden was constructed in the post-and-beam style of the house and nestles into the lush surroundings of the lower garden. “It’s been a guesthouse, a playhouse, a pool cabana, a studio,” says Teresa. “My husband is getting back into painting now and the kids use it for art as well.

There was already a mature garden in place when Blasig came on the scene. Vera Bedard explains the approach to a garden with “strong bones”: “Designers like to think of existing features – in this case, a mature apple and other large trees, the swimming pool and the retaining walls – as guiding the design. They help determine the borders of the available space to work in, and make each site completely individual and unique.”

“We worked together,” continues Vera, “to ensure that the elements special to this garden would remain. New plants were chosen to fit our concept of what would work in that environment and satisfy the palette of textures, colours and scale Teresa would appreciate.”

Lewisia 'Little Plum'Rounded heathsGarden by the poolside LEFT: Lewisia ‘Little Plum’. TOP RIGHT: Rounded heaths (Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’ and ‘Springwood Pink’). BOTTOM RIGHT: Carex buchananii and Astilbe ‘Sprite’ echo the colours of the flagstone paving; Shasta daisies add a bright note. (Images by Andrea Sirois)

Cheerful ‘Alaska’ Shasta daisies are scattered throughout this relaxed garden, collaborating well with ‘Gold Mound’ spirea, variegated red-twig dogwood, and blue lacecap hydrangea by the studio. At the entrance to the house, a pleasing blend of colour and texture, old and new: red Japanese maple, Pieris ‘Forest Flame’, Aucuba japonica, azaleas and rhododendrons.

The results speak for themselves, but Vera has the last word: “By far, the most satisfying part of the project is Teresa expressing the delight she feels every time she looks out the window, and the pleasure she takes when she invites company to visit this extension of her home. This is a very well-used living area. Plus, the garden won a BCLNA Award of Excellence, which is also a most satisfying result!” 

Elaine Jones is a magazine and book writer and editor, as well as a passionate gardener.

Originally published in BC Home & Garden magazine. For regular updates, subscribe to our free Home and Garden e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the magazine.