Whimsical Retreat

This young family wanted a place for play, adventure and outdoor living – spaces to foster curiosity and fun, nurture their love of nature and enjoy the company of family and friends. Wishlist items included: shady sitting areas, play lawns, two outdoor showers, casual outdoor cooking and dining, fountains, a bocce court and landscape lighting. They specifically requested a low water use, low maintenance garden to “attract birds and bees, but not snakes and skunks.”

When the owners contacted us they called for the transformation of their extremely rocky property located at the urban-wildland interface. The landscape was heavily impacted by construction, with sloping terrain and shallow clay soil. 

Grace Design met the families wish list by blending indoors and out while reflecting the playful, whimsical cartoonish-ness of the unique architecture. Terracing and land contouring create form, interest and flow, providing usable spaces with distinct “feels” and functions and capture stormwater.  

This fire smart, water-wise design created from a rocky slope and impacted clay soil now provides a landscape of play and whimsy. With hardscape to bridge the flora, fauna and architecture. 95% of the new plantings are locally sourced and with terraced, contoured landforms together help provide water retention and privacy. Drip irrigation is used on the non-succulent species. Sandstone cobbles and massive boulders were used for walls, walkways and patios all itself matching the wild terrain. Once established, most plants will require no supplemental water.

A fountain made from a single 2-ton boulder seems to grow from the spot where it sits. BBQ and worktop are discreetly contained in the landscape. Sculptural plantings and fantastical forms, colourful pots all add the lightheartedness and amusing reflective nature that you are immersed in once in the garden.

Entertaining, meditating, or playing pirates, the landscape allows for pure satisfaction and enjoyment, as life was meant to be.  


Association of Professional Landscape Designers, Gold Award 2016