Toronto’s cool, damp summer put a crimp in my enjoyment of my own balcony but Vancouver has had a stunner of a summer and I was lucky enough to catch some West Coast sunshine on a recent visit with my friend Robert in the city’s leafy West End.
When he purchased his home almost 20 years ago, Robert was confident he could turn the 10’ x 20’ terrace into a serene space that reflects his passion for plants and international travel. Robert has visited all seven continents, including a photographic journey through Antarctica and his sublime refuge hints at his fervour for far-off places.
Although his ground-floor unit faces the street, Robert has created an urban oasis that made me almost forget where I was. The fencing, which was originally brown (see the bottom pic), is now painted a light cream colour, a calming backdrop to the numerous glazed ceramic and concrete planters overflowing with lush greenery.
Before planting the taller containers, Robert placed chunks of discarded Styrofoam in the base of each pot to cut down on the amount of potting soil required and to make the pots easier to move around. Shade-loving hostas over-winter easily in Vancouver’s milder climate; Robert trims the plants in early fall and then spreads rye seeds over top, which grow into a lush pale-green grass providing an interesting visual element in the winter. Old mirrors (which Robert plans to frame) expand the space and reflect the sometimes-limited natural light.
The soft accessories also contribute to the calming effect. The pillow covers are from India, the throw from Cape Town and Robert picked up the oh-so-relaxing hammock on a beach in Rio de Janeiro. A moss-worn fountain gurgles in a corner helping to block out reminders of the nearby street while a tiny gothic-looking figure from Costa Rica quietly keeps watch over the serene scene.
Robert and I enjoyed many a glass of wine together on this beautiful patio and I’m sincerely looking forward to the day when I can get back to Lotus Land and uncork another bottle with him.