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A Trio of Gardens in the Heart of the City

Landscape designers coax lush oases from modest urban plots

By Amrit Phull

For those of us without broad swathes of outdoor space to call our own – which is to say, most of us who live in the city – fear not: even small patches of land can be transformed into soothing, well-appointed yards, decks and patios. Don’t believe us? Then read on.

Outdoor space

Photo by Jeff McNeill

Eden Tree Design

Whether you’re relaxing solo with a glass of red or playing host to a party of 30, this rooftop refuge by Eden Tree Design promises maximal comfort. The townhome’s crowning glory is a four-by-five-metre pergola by Solicanada, adaptable to rain, sun, temperature change and wind at the click of a button for all-season enjoyment. A lounge space and linear kitchen-bar are separated by a landscaped transition with maroon-tinged ipê decking underfoot. The placid water surface of a custom illuminated 2.5-metre-long box fountain gently overflows onto a bed of glossy black beach pebbles, drowning out the city noise. Greenery disguises the existing vinyl siding in more ways than one: a wall of edible plants and flowers flanks the fountain, while ground cover, grasses and shrubs in dark metal and resin planters add pops of brilliant chartreuse to an otherwise neutral palette of materials. EDENTREEDESIGN.COM

Outdoor space

Photo by A-Frame/Ben Rahn

Fox Whyte

Cloud grey limestone slabs float among the flora surrounding this porcelain white residence by Superkül. Fox Whyte, the designer, and Arbordale Landscape, the contractor, nestled indoor and outdoor spaces within an immersive, densely planted garden mimicking a naturalized ravine – a nod to the greater ecological context of nearby High Park. The purpose of the art collectors’ garden is twofold: an outdoor space for entertaining and a treat for the eyes from within the home. A rear lounge for summertime soirées appears to be a natural extension of the interior living area, separated only by a sheet of glass. Contrasting the backdrop of cool toned plantings is a linear cooking–sitting–storing element in burnt orange Corten along the edge of the lounge plinth. One step below, matching planters sit within a perfectly square dining area paved with wide slabs and crushed black granite. The bi-level terrace lies close to a thicket of serviceberries and ferns, perfectly sheltered by a towering blackoak. FOXWHYTE.CA


Photo by Jenna Muirhead

Earth and Sole

Called upon to upgrade the curb appeal of this quaint Riverside row house, Earth and Sole said “nay” to a predictable English garden, choosing instead to complement the home’s cottagey vibes with a desert design. The pea-gravel and river-rock garden serves as a nod to Arizona landscapes, and is peppered with drought-resistant succulents, silver-violet shrubbery and ornamental grasses like blue fescue and black mondo, to name but a few. The porch enjoys full views, screened from the street by high Corten steel planters in concert with the red brick building. Waste bins make a short trip from beyond the planters and cedar walkway to the curb via a pathway of Wiarton limestone slabs. These too are functional, raised so as not to disturb the roots of an aging evergreen. A gardener’s garden, this remarkable variety of plants watered only by hand will fill the visual gaps of rock and metal with texture and vibrancy as seasons pass. EARTHANDSOLE.COM