Nestled alongside the picturesque Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver, Canada, this 1.75-acre neoclassical home embodies a seamless fusion of natural beauty and artistic expression. Drawing inspiration from neoclassical principles of balance and symmetry, the landscape design encompasses distinctive garden rooms and experiences that complement the clients’ passion for gardens and art.
Originally designed by Paul Sangha in 1995, this unique estate garden returned to Paul Sangha Creative in 2006 when new clients acquired the property. The owners desired a garden that allowed for creative expression through planting design and their growing collection of art. Furthermore, design refinements were required to fit with the new owners’ lifestyle, which included the desire for open spaces for events as well as a greener spaces to connect with the park beyond. Our studio’s challenge was to refresh our original design, while respecting the original neoclassical design vision.
Faced with a significant topography change across the property, it was at the forefront of our design vision to create unified and immersive experiences throughout. A striking entrance sets the stage for the garden’s enchantment, with a sloping driveway meandering through lush plantings toward the porte cochere. Quintessential to the entrance is a captivating water feature, nestled into the steep bank and crafted by a local artist from a magnificent piece of emerald green jade.
The presence of extensive hard surface areas, particularly the tennis court, created a disconnect with the surrounding ravine and forest backdrop. To address these issues, we implemented several solutions:
First, we removed a large proportion of hard surfaces, introducing interconnected lawns and verdant ‘garden rooms’, and establishing a stronger relationship with nature. The refreshed design guides visitors through the Scholar’s Walk to the Scholar’s Terrace, which provides an overlook of the ever-changing hues of the maples along the North Garden Path. The North Garden Path winds through lush plantings, offering a choice to continue toward the Pine Allee, featuring a rest point with vistas of Pacific Spirit Park, or to traverse the Magnolia Allee. The dramatic Magnolia Allee, serving as a northwest axis, showcases a flagstone path with planted joints, accompanied by a rhythmic arrangement of seven grand classical planters bursting with texture and color.
The Magnolia Allee opens to the First Lawn Terrace, where an 86′ x 25′ display garden provides a magnificent canvas for seasonal blooms. Each year, a new color palette is selected to suit the garden’s creative nature, presenting a beautiful display enjoyed from the entertainment terrace. Behind the display garden lies the Pattern Garden, where formal boxwood forms enclose annuals, offering even greater flexibility and creativity. The owners’ profound interest in gardening has fostered an extensive botanical collection, prominently showcasing various rhododendron species within this area.
Secondly, the soothing sound of water elements, particularly a koi pond and waterfall, was introduced to reinforce the harmonious connection with the natural surroundings. An artist was commissioned to position local basalt columns, ensuring optimal spatial and acoustic effects. Japanese maple trees frame the pond, creating a dappled canopy, enhancing the intimacy of the space. Above the pond, a sculpture depicts a beech leaf, as if gracefully fallen from a tree, paying homage to the beech trees on the property. Adjacent to the pond stands another pavilion, providing a panoramic view of the entire landscape—a testament to the interconnectedness of garden elements.
Additionally, leveraging the borrowed views, we created apertures along the garden edge to draw in the park surroundings, creating a sense of boundless nature. We strategically utilized a yew hedge as a horizontal foil along the edge of the property, effectively defining the boundary between the formal garden and untouched wilderness. This approach created a distinct and captivating experience for visitors, as they passed through the hedge and fully engaged with the enchanting ravine below, which had previously remained concealed from the upper portions of the garden. Pavilions positioned along this edge offer shaded retreats for relaxation and dining, as well as additional opportunities to enjoy views of the park beyond.
Quintessential gracefully evolved over the course of 12 years and continues to surprise and delight through its rich layers and ever-changing narratives. It has been our firm’s greatest pleasure to participate in its evolution under the stewardship of its two unique owners, refreshing our original design for modern day living. Through thoughtful solutions for dramatic grade changes, introduction of verdant plantings and a deeper, reinforced connection with Pacific Spirit Park, the new design brings this neoclassical estate garden into the 21st century.
Original Installation: Rule Sangha and Associates Ltd. – Principal in charge, Paul Sangha
Landscape Renovation: Paul Sangha Creative
Architecture offices involved in the design:
Architect: Ernest Collins Architect Ltd.
General Contractor: G. Wilson Construction
Original Installation Landscape Contractor: Allgreen Landscaping Ltd.
Renovation Landscape Contractor: Fossil Landscape Construction
Photography: Nic Lehoux, Brett Ryan Studios
Design year: Original 1995, Renovation 2006
Year Completed: Renovation 2008