From the E-Newsletter:
Perennials Sponsors Prizes
for the The Vancouver Up Front Garden Contest
This year Phoenix sponsored the prizes for the Up Front
Garden Contest in Vancouver. The first prize winners
received a $500 gift certificate, the second prize winners
a $300 gift certificate and the third prize winners
a $200 gift certificate. The prizes were awarded in
front of the winning garden.
Left to Right: The first prize winners, Douglas and
Fernando, with Phoenix Owner Gary Lewis presenting them
with their gift certificate.
Three pictures of Douglas and Fernando's Garden.
Here is Steve Whysall's article on the
They're the tops:
Strathcona garden captures the natural world's beauty
and gets top marks in the Up Front contest
Steve Whysall, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, June 16, 2006
It is a romantic garden with a charming heritage house
at its centre in one of Vancouver's oldest character
It is also a garden that catches the attention of children
on their way to and from school and thereby serves as
a gentle reminder of the beauty of the natural world.
The little corner-lot garden belonging to Fernando
Rato and Douglas Cave at 602 Keefer St. in Strathcona
is now the winner of this year's Up Front Garden Contest,
which is organized by the Vancouver Garden Club and
sponsored by the Vancouver park board to encourage neighbourhood
Each spring, members of the garden club scour the city's
22 neighbourhoods in search of outstanding front gardens
-- ones that not only make the neighbourhood a more
pleasant place to live but also inspire others to make
their own front yards more appealing.
The Strathcona garden was judged to be the best of
a shortlist of eight finalists selected from a total
of 65 gardens all over Vancouver.
"We are thrilled to have won," said Rato.
"We inherited the garden when we bought the house
a year ago. It was a little overwhelming to look after
it at first, but since January I have been working hard
to maintain it."
Contest judges this year were Paul Sangha, Vancouver
landscape architect; Marjanne Vrijmoed, co-owner of
Free Spirit Nursery in Langley; and me.
Each of the garden finalists were scored out of 100
points in three key criteria: 40 points for appearance
(general cleanliness and neatness); 35 points for design
(creativity in design and layout of plant material including
attention to colour, variety of species, and their relationship
to buildings and other landscape elements); and 25 points
for impact (how the property contributes to beautification
of the neighbourhood as viewed from the street).
Sangha and Vrijmoed gave the Strathcona garden full
marks -- 100 out of 100. I was less enthusiastic, partly
from having seen it before and also because I spotted
a dead tree in the front yard.
But we all agreed that the garden is certainly a treasure
in its neighbourhood and worthy of the No. 1 spot.
Last year, it was a runner-up in the competition, but
this year it was the best of the bunch.
Sangha thought it was "magical," with a clever
layering of plants and excellent use of colour.
"I like its playfulness. It is a garden to enjoy
and experiment with and have fun in, rather than a garden
that has been developed by stringently following rules,"
He was also impressed that the garden helped revitalize
a part of town where the possibility of vandalism and
theft sometimes discourages people from doing something
"It is wonderful to see this generous commitment
of time and energy to beautifying the neighbourhood,"
Vrijmoed thought the garden was "charming"
and "a garden to fall in love with" and was
particularly enthusiastic that children from the nearby
elementary school could walk by it every day and have
the opportunity to notice the diversity of plant material,
from giant leaves of gunnera to the diminutive perennials.
I liked the striking combination of red clematis and
bright blue ceanothus as they tumbled together over
a blue-green picket fence with a single white foxglove
I also liked the foliage textures of a corkscrew willow,
evergreen magnolia, windmill palm and silk tree as well
as the generous placement of a fig tree next to the
sidewalk so the seductively sweet fruit can also be
picked by passersby.
All of us liked the way the garden connected with the
1908 heritage house, especially how the blue and yellow
colours of the house blended with the planting scheme
to create a sense of harmony.
"No one would ever consider stealing a plant because
the garden is so charming," said Vrijmoed.
The second- and third-place winners in the contest
were gardens at 3118 Alberta St. and 311 East 11th Ave.
Each garden impressed the judges as being neighbourhood-friendly
and having a unique personality.
The Alberta Street garden in front of a 1912 heritage
Arts and Crafts house uses clipped boxwood, yew hedging
and containers of lavender to hint at formality while
softening the overall look with a relaxed planting of
perennials, ornamental grasses, and foliage trees.
Sangha said the garden had "restrained elegance."
He was especially impressed by the planting of lavender,
hardy geraniums, foxgloves and roses in the lane at
the side of the house where you also get peek-a-boo
views of the vegetable garden.
Vrijmoed thought the garden was a good example of what
a typical Vancouver easy-maintenance garden should look
"It is the most suitable kind of garden for this
neighbourhood, so it is a very good example for other
homeowners," she said.
The garden at 11th Avenue in East Vancouver was also
a finalist in last year's competition. Judges again
were impressed by a dense planting of conifers and evergreen
shrubs around a meandering path of boulders, which is
frequently used by schoolchildren as a fun obstacle
Sangha and Vrijmoed thought the garden had a "Germanic"
or "Bavarian" look because of the extensive
use of rock and clipped conifers.
But we all were impressed by the boldness and clear
definition of the curving border, the attention to detail
in every aspect of the planting scheme, and the way
the garden extends a friendly invitation to the entire
For a complete list of Up Front contest winners in
the each of Vancouver's 22 neighbourhoods, visit the
park board's website at www.vancouverparks.ca.
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