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House Beautiful: A window on a lush, green waterfront world

Sunny outdoors, light indoors combine in elegant home with spectacular garden, part of the Teeny Tiny Garden Tour fundraiser for Victoria Hospice.

A sumptuous rose in Caroline Haywood’s garden is so vigorous it blooms almost all summer and she can’t keep up with deadheading.

It’s a bit exasperating, but that’s just what you want in a tiny garden — plants that make a big statement despite their diminutive size. There is no room for any under-achieving shrub, flower or tree.

This is certainly true of Haywood’s garden on Portage Inlet waterfront which is being featured in the Annual Teeny Tiny Garden Tour taking place Sunday, June 9, with proceeds going to Victoria Hospice. (See details below.)

Her small lot brims with colour, foliage and scent and her house is equally attractive on many levels — including the most important which is the owner’s desire to live here forever.

Haywood, who is a retired nurse, was twice widowed and between her husbands, “after the kids left home,” she decided to become a travelling nurse.

She worked all over B.C., was based in Newfoundland four times, and then California and New Hampshire for months or years. She went on four medical missions to Guatemala and lived for several years with her second husband in Hawaii.

She bought this property in 1996 and lived in a small cottage there until 2012 when she tore it down to create from the ground up.

The new house, which is designed for aging in place, was finished two years later. It was envisioned and built by her son, Trevor Ross, a former cabinetmaker who now lives in Kelowna and works for an architect.

Good lighting is a huge element in healthy aging, for both practical and mood-lifting reasons.

This open-concept home delivers masses via a wall of windows along the water side, on both the main and upper floors, as well as French doors off the dining area.

The master bedrooms has a second wall of windows opening onto a deck — “This is my cruise ship view” — and in addition to piano windows here and there, the owner has included transom windows over the main floor doors.

Floors are polished, easy care concrete that is pale and mirror-like in the master suite and a warmer shade on the main, especially in the kitchen area where it is a delicious cinnamon hue.

“I love concrete and have it on the counter tops too,” Haywood explained.

In addition to being a travelling nurse, she worked at Victoria General Hospital for many years, and is also keen to have nearby healthcare.

She seems to have thought of everything as her 1,800-square-foot home has wide doorways, a staircase designed for a lift in future and a legal suite in the basement.

A small garden is both soothing and another healthy choice since the 79-year-old can care for it herself and often gardens as late as 9 p.m.

“The house had a nice garden originally,” she explained.

“So when I decided to build a new house I lifted plants out and kept them in pots for a couple of years during construction and then replanted them in my new garden.”

The 50-by-120 lot is densely planted mostly with perennials but also annuals, everything from hydrangeas and astilbe to allium, iris and roses, which are a speciality. She is particularly keen on the citrus-scented ones.

A huge fan of flowers and flower arranging in general, she belongs to the Victoria Floral Artists Guild and is a member of three garden clubs.

As an official horticultural judge, she also spends much of her summer going to fairs and competitions around the south Island and Gulf islands, and she is happy to share her garden and raise funds for Hospice.

Visitors will enter the sloping property along a charming pathway of stepping stones outlined in bright, blooming rhodos and lush hostas.

To the right is a shady grotto that she has created between the house and garage and, at the end of this colourful mini alée, are two small flagsstone patios and a pats of wavy-edged lawn.

Ringing the patios and lawn are numerous pots filled with tomatoes, strawberries, boysenberries, raspberries, and a fig and Japanese maple tree.

She explained the garden is in a good location for growing things thanks to lots of sun, “although the strong winds of a week ago made it challenging. I was surprised I had anything left for the tour!”

Teeny Tiny Garden Tour

When: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday June 9

Where: 11 tiny but spectacular gardens around Cordova Bay, Broadmead and the Gorge with a special stop at Elli’s Grow Your Own Groceries.”

Tickets: $30 at Brown’s the Florist, Gardenworks, Heirloom Linens, Wildwood Outdoor Living and Hospice development office, 4th floor Richmond Pavilion.

Note: This is a fundraiser for Victoria Hospice

More info: [email protected]