Beyond my appearances on CityLine, I also collaborate with Dunpar Homes as their Chief Creative Designer. It’s a really fun gig: I get to be on the ground helping develop some of their most inspired housing projects, while lending my design and décor expertise in the way of interiors, exteriors, and even gardening and landscaping.
Right now we’re in the midst of launching Heritage Gate, a bespoke collection of 65 townhomes and semi-detached homes in the stunning community between Sawmill Valley and Streetsville.
I love these homes – they’re architectural marvels, really. Think English Georgian Manors full of grandeur, majesty and reminiscent of the tony neighbourhood of, say, The Hamptons. Part of my role in this development is in conceptualizing all the exteriors, but most importantly the landscaping and gardens.
As you know, I’m a devout gardener since I was a child where I spent so much time at my grandfather’s nursery in Unionville, Ontario. He taught me about the love and beauty of nature and how it affects us all. So, in every home I have lived in — or helped design — I deeply value and nourish a garden and the beautiful landscaping that goes along with it.
All that experience made me realize — when I was mapping out the gardening and landscaping for Heritage Gate — there are so many take-away tips that virtually any homeowner could use in their own homes, their own gardens and their own landscaping. So, here goes!
The bigger your garden, the more time and energy it’s going to take to maintain it, so start small and slowly expand in the years to come. Decide what you really want (vegetable garden?) and then scale it down to something that’s reasonable to build out. There’s something actually quite lovely about this concept: Your garden grows as you do!
Find balance and symmetry
The gardens and landscaping are what you see first when you arrive at anyone’s home and they’re the finishing touches to a beautiful exterior. The key is in its simplicity: don’t over-complicate it with several different varieties of flowers, bushes and plants. Instead, choose a unifying theme of complimentary flowers and shrubs to create a whole story. Gather a few images that inspire you and build your theme around those. Do you like lush, flower-filled gardens or prefer a more minimalist, modern take? I always like to say your gardens should be like a scarf you throw on with your jacket – it should match, not clash!
Use Natural Materials
At Heritage Gate I was inspired to use rustic rock to hold and frame the plants I’d collected from my trips across Europe where gardens are a-plenty! They offer wonderful texture and colour that balance beautifully with whatever brick your house may be. Plus, they act as an anchor to frame the house.
I mixed standard hydrangea trees for height with boxwood hedges for structure at Heritage Gate, but this could just as easily be incorporated into any home. Hydrangea bushes are also perfect because they last forever (and have a gorgeous and they also yield a big impact.
Choose your Soil Selection Carefully
Is your lawn not living up to its potential? Have your soil tested to make sure it’s sufficient enough in magnesium and iron — those are the chief nutrients that give your grass that rich emerald hue.