Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - - Profiles - By CUR­TIS POTTER – ED­MON­TON, AB

Born and raised in On­tario, An­gela James de­vel­oped a pas­sion for gar­den­ing and land­scape de­sign from her mother at an early age. Pur­su­ing this pas­sion, James earned a cer­tifi­cate of Land­scape De­sign & Hor­ti­cul­ture from the Uni­ver­sity of Guelph. Fif­teen years later, she has carved a great niche for her­self in the Ed­mon­ton land­scap­ing scene with her firm Garden De­signs by An­gela.

James is re­fresh­ingly pos­i­tive, and it’s this pos­i­tiv­ity that has been crit­i­cal to her suc­cess over the years, es­pe­cially when de­sign­ing within Ed­mon­ton’s harsh cli­mate. “There is more day­light here than any other ma­jor Cana­dian city,” James says. “I see [the cli­mate] as a pos­i­tive in­stead of a neg­a­tive. Al­though it can limit plant se­lec­tion that is avail­able and I firmly be­lieve in plant re­spon­si­bil­ity, I do my best to not fo­cus on what is not avail­able.”

James ap­plies this pos­i­tiv­ity not only to her ca­reer, but also to her per­sonal life. She lost her daugh­ter to an ac­ci­den­tal opi­oid poi­son­ing in Novem­ber 2016, and in re­sponse, she is now a mem­ber of Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH), and co-fa­cil­i­tates a grief sup­port group for Ed­mon­to­ni­ans who have lost a loved one. James firmly be­lieves it is her re­spon­si­bil­ity to ed­u­cate, raise aware­ness, and sup­port oth­ers strug­gling with sim­i­lar tragedies.

This com­pas­sion and al­tru­ism trans­lates into her land­scap­ing prac­tice. Eco­log­i­cal Land­scap­ing is cru­cial to her com­pany, which is why she is a firm be­liever in per­me­able pavers, which “al­low wa­ter to flow into the ground and be ab­sorbed in­stead of go­ing into storm sew­ers,” she says. “There are many beau­ti­ful op­tions to choose from, [they] are eco-friend­lier, and are all man­u­fac­tured in Canada.”

James also per­son­ally de­signs cus­tom fea­tures for clients, in­clud­ing gates, house num­bers, fences, hot tub sur­round­ings, docks, pri­vacy screens, etc. “I wanted some­thing that wasn’t avail­able. Not on a shelf. So, I de­sign ex­actly what the client wants and work with a cus­tom man­u­fac­turer to have it made,” she ex­plains.

It’s no sur­prise that her thoughts on the cur­rent and future land­scap­ing scene in Ed­mon­ton are pro­foundly op­ti­mistic. “The trends I am see­ing right now are out­door liv­ing spa­ces that push the sea­sonal bound­aries. Struc­tures with glass roofs and gas heaters, out­door kitchens and fire fea­tures are ex­tend­ing sea­sons and bring­ing peo­ple out­side, even in our Ed­mon­ton win­ters,” she says. “All of the fire fea­ture op­tions in my de­signs are man­u­fac­tured in Canada be­cause it is very im­por­tant to me to sup­port Cana­dian busi­nesses.”

Nat­u­ral yards are also big this sea­son. Ac­cord­ing to James, the City of Ed­mon­ton’s new Nat­u­ral Yards Pro­gram “will pro­vide home­own­ers with all of the re­sources they need to cre­ate a nat­u­ral yard. The ma­te­rial will be live on the [city’s] web­site mid-May, and can be found un­der Nat­u­ral Pri­vate Prop­erty,” she says. There’s no doubt that James has found her call­ing in land­scape de­sign and it will be ex­cit­ing to see where her unique com­bi­na­tion of pas­sion, tal­ent, and pos­i­tiv­ity take her next.

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