Article by Erin Renwick. Photos by Jody Beck.
It is late fall and Jen Wilson’s Oak Bay garden is still teeming with life – there are plenty of tomatoes ripening on their vines, as well as a host of herbs and greens. The apples have been picked from the tree except for the few that have fallen and lie on the ground. Gardens at this time of year aren’t so boastful in their beauty as in summer: the colours are subtle, and much of the foliage is weathered and browning.
Time spent in a garden in the fall and winter is often no more than a dash out to gather some herbs, or maybe an hour raking leaves between storms. However, Wilson, a quintessential west coaster, who loves working outside all year, will happily spend a weekend single-handedly building a fence or installing a new pergola. To help her design and build her dream landscape, Wilson recruited Erin Renwick at Greenspace Designs to create a contemporary, multifunctional garden that would be hospitable through the winter months.
Stylistically, Wilson requested a contemporary space, so Renwick created a modern-rustic feel that would complement her character home. In order to achieve this look, Renwick designed a geometric layout, offering distinct spaces separated by lengths of steel set on edge. A blend of gravel pathways, larger stone for patios, and pavers for accents were used to both distinguish the separate areas and maintain the natural, organic shapes within the landscape. Cedar chips were used for the raised beds and around the pergola to ensure that this contemporary garden design was also warm and rustic.
In a formerly unused corner of the garden, Greenspace Designs created an outdoor room complete with a rattan couch and gas fireplace, which now serves as the heart of the garden in the off-season. Sheltered on two sides by charming wooden sheds, the patio sits under a large cedar tree protected from the elements. It is the perfect place to take a break on a cool day, warmed by the fire and cozy on the comfortable seating.
Along with warmth in the off-season, space to grow vegetables and a small patch of lawn for children and the family dog, Wilson also wanted a separate patio large enough for a dining table and privacy from the houses nearby. Anchoring the landscape, Renwick built a dining patio in the opposite corner to the fireplace and Wilson installed a pergola, which will eventually hold a climbing rose, creating further privacy and a ceiling of sorts for the patio.