One of the best things about living on Vancouver Island is the ability to enjoy the great outdoors throughout most of the year. Gardens, once limited to growing flowers and vegetables or providing a place for kids to play, are now considered outdoor living rooms. That’s what Susan was looking for when she started her garden make-over: “I wanted a space where we could relax and entertain and I wanted to simplify and beautify my garden.”
Susan’s compact garden at the rear of the house is surrounded by trees and shrubs, making it a contained and private space. A small deck overlooks the garden, so the garden had to be designed to connect to the house and enhance it. A truly great outdoor living room is just as comfortable and well-designed as any indoor room and the same design rules apply: keep function in mind, make sure the style of the outdoor room relates well to the house and interior rooms, and invest in quality “hardscaping” – the floors, walls and furnishings of your outdoor room.
In this case, the “hardscaping” involved a new slate patio and pathway. The garden is bisected by a pathway leading from a rear alley to the deck. The roughly one-quarter of the garden on one side of the path was uninspiring and difficult to maintain. Landscape designer, Duane Ensing, defined the seating area with a slate patio and pathway and replaced the side garden with a spectacular stone water feature. A gas firepit in the centre of the patio allows Susan and her husband to linger outside into the evenings.
Opposite the patio, a circular lawn is edged with boxwood. Lush plantings behind the boxwood blur the property lines making the garden feel larger than it is. An aged birdbath in the centre of the lawn provides an entertaining focal point.
Susan chose her garden furniture for its good looks and practicality. Dig This owner, Elizabeth Cull, helped her select the contemporary “rattan” club chairs and ottomans to make an inviting space to visit with friends and family. “While the house is traditional, the clean lines of these chairs and the open arms work perfectly in this space,” said Elizabeth. The furniture, made of synthetic resin wrapped on aluminum frames, is completely weather-proof and requires no maintenance apart from an occasional spray with a hose, thus satisfying Susan’s need for simplicity.
Sitting in her garden on a sunny afternoon recently, Susan admitted that it is sometimes difficult to go inside when it’s time to make dinner. “I just want to linger a little longer and relax in my peaceful outdoor room.”