A local garden in Edmonton: bursting with blooms and beauty
When one first arrives in front of Carrie and Chris’s home there is no mistaking that this is the home of an avid gardener. The yard overflows with beds of colourful flowers and the hum of happy pollinators. The rock garden spilling over with arctic phlox and spurge is one of Carrie’s favourite parts of the front gardens.
As you approach the house you come across a hidden seating area where Carrie and Chris love to spend quiet weekend mornings playing chess with a cup of coffee; breathing in the sweet almond-like scent of the nearby Shubert tree.
Meandering further down the colourful path that leads to the backyard the extent of their creativity is revealed. The path is edged by a stunning rock wall, reminiscent of European countrysides. It is filled with textured greenery — cedars, hostas and ferns. Passing through the arbour to the back yard one encounters a
serene sitting nook underneath a unique pergola. The hanging lanterns and penny posts add to the zen-like feeling it exudes.
From here you can hear the trickling of the waterfall and see the pond situated nearby. A few steps farther and you are immersed in the full beauty of their backyard oasis.
Carrie grew up with an affinity for nature that she learned from her mom. She loved being outdoors and in the woods. By the time she went to university, she knew she had to have an outdoor job.
She started off modestly maintaining yards but Carrie aspired for more and began working for the city taking care of the downtown flowers and plants. Her next job saw her in the role of heritage gardener at Fort Edmonton. After leaving that position Carrie completed her Master Gardener certificate.
“Once my husband, Chris, and I bought a home, I was able to use my knowledge and experience to work on our property. The backyard was wild, with maples growing out of a rundown shed and scrubby shrubs everywhere,” says Carrie.
The couple decided they should start clearing and trying to fix one area of the yard at a time but it wasn’t working, they were wasting time and money. Using Carrie's knowledge and Chris's skills they decided to start over with a solid design and then begin the renovations. “Once we had our design created we went to town,” she shares.
Carrie’s advice to people attempting a garden overhaul is not to cheap out on soil. “Compost and manure will make a huge difference in your garden. We used truckloads of mushroom manure,” she shares. “Mulching is also very helpful as it helps to hold moisture in the soil.”
Chris and Carrie made a perfect team, with Chris building the decks, structures and their pond with the waterfall. He also began stacking stones for their rock wall. “It is just stacked stones, it’s like putting together a puzzle. Most people think you need mortar to create a strong wall, but the wall is sturdy. It also allows you to create a sort of living wall too, we’ve places succulents and mosses in the crevices and it looks beautiful,” shares Carrie. The couple also included a couple of large boulders to add more dimension.
Carrie says the idea for the pennies on the pergola came about from ideas she and Chris had envisioned. Chris had wanted to include stones on the post of the pergola but realized he
would have trouble with them falling off. Carrie had seen a penny floor and had wanted to include that in their yard somehow. At first they thought a driveway, but realized the posts of the pergola would be perfect. The project is stunning and it took Chris five years to complete. “It was a lot of work, he had to drill the pennies then glue them on the wall and nail them down, one at a time,” she tells us. This labour of love was worth the effort though and produced for them a one of a kind piece of art for their yard.
The back yard is filled with treasures at every turn, from gloriously full white blooms of hydrangeas to the compact Cupid and Juiette cherry trees, part of the Saskatchewan Romance series. Carries favourites include the magic carpet and golden mound spirea which put on a show
from spring to fall, making a pretty statement planted en masse with the concord barberries.
Carrie designed the gardens to be enjoyed for all of the seasons. In spring the front porch is the place to be; the air filled with the heavy scent of blooms and plants coming to life. In summer the perennials put on a show and the couple’s favorite place to be is on the back deck or by the pond. As the season turns the yard prepares for slumber with a colourful display of turning leaves. The rich red of the amur maple, the smokebush’s redish-yellow leaves, and contrasting evergreens make a pretty scene.
Chris's labour of love took five years to create.
Each penny was drilled, glued and nailed down.
The couple even installed a living roof on their shed.
The scent of roses fill the air.
A gorgeous container display.
Creative accents fill the yard.
A nice contrast of colours and texture.
The back porch is the focal point of summer entertaining.
A vibrant explosion of colour and texture.
Bees dance amongst the blossoms.
Carrie and Chris's front yard has been the recipient of several awards over the years including Edmonton's Front Yards in Bloom.
The front porch with it's hidden seating area is a favourite spot to spend a Sunday morning.
The garden is bird and pollinator friendly.
A compact cherry tree from the Saskatchewan Romance series.
Plants placed between the rocks create a living wall.
Pretty anemone canadensis seed head.