Gardens - Featured Gardens

Rock stars

By
Janet Collins
Photography by
Bert Klassen

Visit an exotic garden on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast

The woodland area boasts, among other plants, more than 20 hostas of various cultivars, such as 'Great Expectations', 'Patriot', 'Ryan's Big One', 'June', and 'Sum and Substance', as well as several types of Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis).

South of the woodland, a patio provides an inviting entry from the house into the backyard. This part of the garden is currently undergoing substantial renovations, as space is being made to incorporate a 1.8-metre black Japanese pine. "The plan is to create an outdoor room for the tree," says Harold. Larry explains that the existing concrete patio will be refaced with flagstone to better integrate with the surrounding gravel-covered beds and pathways. To further ensure this specimen pine gets plenty of attention, it will be placed on a mound behind the headwater rock of a stream that runs from just beyond the patio area. (The stream gathers into a series of ponds and small waterfalls before culminating into a bog at the lowest end of the garden.) The size of the headwater rock is deceptive, as most of it is buried. "It's an interesting rock," says Harold. "From one angle it looks like the peak of the Matterhorn." The patio area's reconfiguration will require the removal of one of three ornamental plum trees that flank the Monterey cypress hedge (Cupressus macrocarpa) that borders the property. "I hate to cut that tree down," says Harold, "but it's far too close to the hedge to try to dig it out."

The meandering gravel path encountered earlier follows the stream along its course. A bridge near the third and final pond at the southwest corner of the garden leads to a log bench where one can sit and enjoy the play of water. Black and golden bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra and P. aurea), grown in containers, heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and stipa grass are some of the plants found along the waterway. The plants add colour and movement while providing a soft contrast to the gravel path. Later in the season, white and pink water lilies, cultivars unknown, cover most of the surface of the lowest pond.

For the most part, rocks throughout the garden provide the focal points, while plantings act as the backdrop and frame. This is especially true in the desert garden along the south side of the house, with its perfect growing conditions for yucca (Yucca spp.), prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.), artichoke (Cynara scolymus), red hot poker (Kniphofia) and a fig tree (Ficus spp.)

Moving up the slope again, the path passes a replicated alpine setting with grafted dwarf trees (including dwarf Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus 'Nana'), weeping Korean fir (Abies koreana 'Pendula') and globe Colorado spruce (Picea pungens 'Globosa'). In this section, a huge rock that looks like a small mountain takes up much of the gravel bed. Bits of the rock have been chipped away to create a scree slope. The adjacent walkway acts as a valley between the rock and the house. "The rhodos overhang this area like trees would in a woodland clearing," says Larry.

Walking west, a gazebo designed by Larry and Harold provides a good lookout spot. Situated next to the pond and bog area, the structure offers views of most of the garden.

Other rocks placed around the property emulate everything from puffins and ducks to Inukshuks and a smiling monk. The liberal use of rocks and gravel means less lawn to maintain, too. Though the design of their garden may be stylized, the Myerses have made every effort to work in harmony with nature. The result speaks for itself.

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