Building a Dream Home and Garden

Pat and Dick Logie transformed a bare one-acre lot into an absolutely stunning home and garden, featuring a sweeping circular lawn – framed by mature shrubs and trees – and a year-round greenhouse

Credit: Andrea Sirois

Red Crocosmia and scarlet Monarda bloom among clipped boxwoods in the central bed

Pat and Dick Logie built the “House of the Year” and then dug in to create the garden of a lifetime

It’s a rare gardener who can have not only the house of her dreams but the garden to match. Pat Logie is one of those lucky ones.

When she and her husband, Dick, bought their property in South Surrey, Pat already knew the house she wanted to build on the bare, one-acre lot: a rambling, gabled farmhouse featured as “House of the Year” in Country Living magazine.

Seventeen years later, the house sits behind a sweeping circular lawn, framed by mature shrubs and trees. Pat would like to have had another grand specimen in the middle of the lawn, but is limited to perennials and tall shrubs with shallow root systems because the septic field runs beneath it.

Thus, two large specimens of Mahonia ‘Charity’ and a striking, purple-leaved Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ anchor the centre bed, along with scarlet Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, boxwood and bee balm. In summer, lilies spring up to add both colour and fragrance.

In the wide borders around the lawn a treasure trove of delights waits to be discovered. Trees include a giant redwood, a deodar cedar and a graceful flowering plum. The redwood was on Pat’s early wish list and remains a favourite. “I figured the garden was big enough to hold it,” she says, “although now I’m not quite so sure.”

Rhododendrons, hydrangeas, a scented viburnum and flowering dogwood ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ form a middle layer beneath the trees. Below and around them are drifts of perennials that Pat has chosen so that there is something in bloom at all times of the year. A rustic fence festooned with roses separates the garden from the road. “I wanted a vista,” Pat says, eyeing the result, “and it’s worked out fairly well.”

On the other three sides, a tall cedar hedge gives privacy from adjoining lots. “I would really have liked a brick wall, similar to the ones you see in England,” says Pat, “but that was outside our budget.”

Maintaining a “House of the Year”

(Left) At any given time of the year, the greenhouse is in use (Right) An arch of hedges leads to the vegetable garden and orchard (Images: Andrea Sirois)

Dick clips the hedge to its immaculate shape once a year, a three-day job he is hoping his son will soon take over. He also built the spacious deck that runs the length of the back of the house, as well as an elegant greenhouse tucked to one side of the back garden.

The view from the deck is framed by the enclosing hedge. Protected within its green arms lies a sunny lawn with a gazebo anchoring one corner. A small stream, bordered by moisture-loving plants such as iris and rodgersia, feeds a pond at its base.

The deck itself holds numerous planters and an array of hanging baskets, all brimming with colour. Pat’s skill in composing such features is hardly surprising: at her previous home in Richmond, she raised annuals for three Lower Mainland nurseries, as well as supplied the community of Steveston with hanging baskets to adorn its waterfront.

Beyond the lawn, flowering currants flank another of Dick’s contributions: a grape arbour that leads to a huge vegetable garden and adjoining orchard. “When the currants bloom,” Pat points out, “hummingbirds gravitate to them from the mahonias in the front garden where they have been during the winter.” She doesn’t put out a feeder because she’s afraid she might not be consistent about refilling it. “Besides, I figure there’s enough in the garden.”

While a succession of flowers feeds the hummingbirds, regular plantings in the vegetable garden supply the couple with homegrown produce year-round, with enough left over for family, friends and the food bank. Gravel paths separate raised beds containing neat rows of leafy greens, root crops and onions. On one side there are edible currants; on the other a thicket of flourishing raspberry canes. A line of espaliered apples interspersed with fragrant briar roses divides the productive from the pleasure garden.

Pat usually plants the lillies in spring (Image: Andrea Sirois)

At one end, a low hedge screens compost bins, a work area and a row of cold frames that back up against the south wall of the greenhouse. Inside the greenhouse, tender plants like fuchsias, scented geraniums and an array of succulents await the warmer weather before being moved outside. Seedlings to fill the hanging baskets on the deck get started here too.

Pat is generous in sharing her garden with others and has often opened it to benefit the various clubs and charities that she belongs to. For the last five years, a self-catering suite, attached to the house and formerly occupied by her dad, has been available to overnight visitors. Pat encourages her guests to help themselves to the bounty of the garden, and is always pleased when they take an interest in it.

Although many of the visitors have come to the area for other reasons, it is hard to imagine they leave without being charmed by the beauty and peace of their surroundings.

A Year-round Greenhouse

Although Pat Logie spent three years working in garden centres, she saw her real vocation as a grower. Building the elegant greenhouse that adorns her back garden was one step on the way to that goal. Luckily she had her husband’s natural talent to draw on. “We didn’t have a plan,” Pat says. “We bought the glass at a greenhouse supplier and Dick just built it to fit.”

Measuring 6 by 3.6 m (20 by 12 ft.) with an atrium of 1.5 by 2 m (5 by 7 ft.), the greenhouse has an adjoining potting shed and backs onto a gravelled outside area with cold frames where plants can be moved once they have hardened off. Although the glass is not tempered, to cut down on expenses, it has been specially fabricated for greenhouse use.

Bricks pave the indoor area, giving way to gravel under the potting benches. There’s a long propagation bench with heated wires for starting seeds and a plastic tent for any that need warmer air than the ambient temperature. Twenty-four drippers carry water to a row of hanging baskets.

Fans keep the air circulating, a must for growing plants, and Pat sets the temperature at a constant 5 C (41 F) so that, if it gets really cold outside, it never drops below freezing inside the greenhouse. Although she also has grow lights, she admits to hardly ever using them.

Insect control is largely organic. Pat employs three yellow light bulbs to zap whiteflies and a population of resident wasps to control aphids. “I’m allergic to wasps,” she admits, “but these never touch me.” Until the wasps hatch, she sprays susceptible plants with insecticidal soap.

At any given time throughout the year, the greenhouse is in use. Pat cleans it with soap and water once a year in fall before moving tender specimens inside.

In the winter months, when the rest of the garden is bleak, this sheltered space becomes a conservatory of flourishing succulents in weathered terracotta pots, a pleasant refuge for its owners on many gloomy days.

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.