Gardens - Featured Gardens

A restful refuge in Vancouver, B.C.

Martha Uniacke Breen
Photography by
Janis Nicolay

A small, back garden is transformed into an outdoor room, perfect for outdoor living and entertaining

Many of us with diminutive city gardens aspire to make them an extension of our indoor living space. And for Mark Pritchard and Daryll Tyacke,  who spend most of their time outdoors from early spring to late fall, creating a restful garden for living and entertaining in their Vancouver, B.C., backyard was vital.

restful-refuge-inset.jpgWhen the couple bought their home about eight years ago, Daryll recalls, “the garden had some good bones and even some good plants; it just needed a fresh update.” First, the good things: the garden is afforded a comfortable amount of privacy thanks to a mature wisteria on one side and the wall of a neighbour’s house on the other. A short flight of steps leading up to the main garden from the back door gives the garden a sense of destination, while a shed at the back, with an espaliered peach tree and, at its foot, a thick border of peonies, creates an artful backdrop. But it was tired, and less structured than Mark, an interior designer, and Daryll, a gardener and landscape architect, had in mind.

“I hate cutting grass,” says Daryll with a laugh, so the first step was to replace the lawn with sleek flagstone pavers, which now delineate the restful outdoor living room. A clipped Japanese holly hedge, an ancient wisteria vine, hardy perennial borders and eye-catching containers serve to frame this space, lending it a cozy, enclosed feel. Two lime-green Muskoka chairs form part of the main seating area, with a large container of scented pelargoniums set between. “It’s truly set up to be an extension of the house,” says Daryll.

In spite of its size, this small urban garden is filled with various levels of plantings. Containers, strategically placed throughout the garden, provide a framework and a sense of structure. Some plants, like the pelargoniums, are a permanent feature and planted with a single variety; others, like a trio of fat half-round pots between the dining and seating areas, change seasonally, depending on what catches the couple’s eye at the local garden store. The structure, from the the planted pots to the verdant borders, creates a cozy space that’s just right for this outdoor-loving couple.

“In the summer, Mark works out here, and I often have breakfast outside in the mornings,” says Daryll. “To sit out here, surrounded by good smells, birds singing—it’s quite private and really is wonderful.”


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