Gardens - Featured Gardens

The lure of the East

Gerald Filipski
Photography by
Marilynn Mcara

A plain-jane Alberta backyard is transformed into a sanctuary with hints of the Far East

At first glance, you might think the garden of Bill and Lorraine Holowaty has been around for some time. In reality it’s less than six years old, and Bill, its designer and primary builder, has only been gardening seriously for the same length of time. After looking for a place on Vancouver Island in 2002, Bill and Lorraine realized they didn’t want to settle on the coast and decided to stay in their home in Sherwood Park, Alberta, resolving to remain close to their family. Less than a month later, Bill dug his first perennial bed.

Take a tour of the Holowaty's eastern-inspired garden!

When the couple first moved into their house in 1986, the garden was typical urban fare. There were vast expanses of lawn and a few trees, including a bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), apple and hawthorn, as well as lodgepole and ponderosa pines, which give the garden its name, Whispering Pines. And that’s how things stayed for more than 15 years while the Holowatys raised their four children.

Today, these trees still rule over the property and not only add shade, but now frame a waterfall and pond that is the centrepiece of the backyard. “Whoever planted those trees did so in a way that allowed us to build our waterfall without having to move a single one,” marvels Lorraine.

The entire landscape is a realization of Bill’s vision. Before creating the new garden, he spent time drawing plans for it on extended business trips, and back home he awoke at all hours to scribble down ideas. He still wakes up to jot down notes on his to-do list or to devise new schemes for garden beds and other projects.

Lorraine helps in the garden when she can, but admits it’s really Bill’s domain. She adds her own touches by planting up and tending to the various containers which are works of art in their own right—many in brilliant hues and with an Asian theme. Because they add colour and interest throughout the garden, a lot of time is spent getting the containers perfect.

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