For a realtor showing Vancouver Island properties to a couple from the mainland, Norfolk Lodge in Saanich wasn’t a typical island property you present to just any client. But for this couple from Vancouver, as previous heritage renovators, it wasn’t a stretch to view the sprawling 1908 Samuel Maclure beauty that had been left in a state of neglect. Over the last 25 years, the professional couple had restored three heritage homes and were no strangers to an involved undertaking like Norfolk Lodge. Taken by the home’s history, solid bones and seven acres of spectacular landscape, the couple placed a bid in an auction and acquired the property “as is, where is.” With the aim of returning the age-old beauty and landscape to her former glory, the couple hired the creative collaborators Aryze Developments for the extensive home renovation and Biophilia Collective for landscape restoration and redesign.
Built-in 1908 by John and Emma Oldfield, settlers from Norfolk England, this 7000-square foot Arts and Crafts style lodge was renovated by Samuel Maclure and his assistant Ross Lort in 1911 and again in 1914. Modifying specific areas of the home to enhance the finer architectural details and grand proportions of the British Arts and Crafts style, Maclure became a leader in British Columbia for establishing a sophisticated variation of the Arts and Crafts design.
“The design of this Maclure home was thematically echoed in the landscape as many of his works were,” says Bianca Bodley of Biophilia Collective. She adds that “beautiful stonework can be seen throughout the landscape, two of the most prominent are stone benches placed strategically in the landscape to enjoy unique vistas and a large manmade waterway with a beautifully arched stone bridge. This landscape had beautiful bones, old growth forest with rhododendron, Gary oaks, willow trees, maples and arbutus to name a few.”
Responsible for two acres of the property, Bodley initially uncovered the original structures and pathways that traverse the property which had been overgrown with ivy and other invasive plants. “The garden was an overgrown jewel to undercover; mostly Ivy had taken over pathways, swallowed up stone benches and even covered over a sunken garden.”
“The design process was one that looked back historically to respect the original design while moving forward to breathe new life into the landscape and create new opportunities. The clients also had a strong affinity for rich colours of purple and red and a preference for large massing and strategic use of feature trees and shrubs. We decided on a phased approach to the plantings and used masses of ornamentals and natives depending on the zones,” states Bodley.