November 25, 2022

House Beautiful: Cordova Bay’s house garden like a fairy tale scene

The couple’s 3,000 square foot home with a creepy west coast garden continues to evolve

Nestled in a forest of tall evergreens, knee-deep ferns and winding paths encrusted with polished glass, this garden looks like a scene out of a fairy tale and it’s hard to believe it’s just a stone’s throw away. a bustling thoroughfare in Cordova Bay.

It’s also just a short climb from the water and surprisingly free of traffic noise.

The back door of the house opens to a sea of ​​vivid green and wild nature, while on the street side the landscape is more formal. The latter features an arbor adorned with rose bushes, honeysuckle, clematis and vines, which separates two distinct garden areas: one with lawn and the other with raised planters filled with flowers and herbs.

Diane and David Allan have lived in this 3,000 square foot home and creepy West Coast garden for nearly 40 years and say the property continues to evolve, inside and out.

“We’ve done so many repairs and renovations that we’re fixing the repairs now,” David said.

Diana explained that when they bought the house, there weren’t many choices on the market, “but this one suited them well because of their blended family of five children, including four teenagers.

The couple liked that their three boys could sleep in a downstairs suite while they and their two daughters could be upstairs in three bedrooms.

The Allans brought a large picnic table inside and the family soon discovered that this house had hidden assets, “lots of places you can go if you want to be alone”.

The garden also became a haven for the whole family and is now one of Victoria’s hidden gems and part of the Victoria Hospice Teeny Tiny Tour. It will only be considered a virtual tour though, as street parking is almost non-existent.

Diane and David work well together and have always enjoyed doing projects. One of his biggest challenges was removing old shag carpeting and laying new flooring at the age of 72. He gradually worked his way through the house, one room at a time.

A man with a keen artistic eye and a dual degree in arts, his career was spent in educational administration. He was a school principal until his retirement and soon after he returned to his love of art and now, at 86, he is going strong, having created most of the artwork in their home.

Diane, 78, also has an artistic sensibility as an amateur interior designer.

“I’ve always been in House and Home Magazines,” she laughed, and after working for 24 years in the federal government, she ran her own dried flower business called Earthborne Designs. She worked as a floral designer for the Aerie Resort among other clients.

She then became a real estate agent for several years, before retiring for a second time.

Now with over 30 years of gardening experience and many courses under her belt, she has taken up writing and recently wrote a book of whimsical nursery rhymes and poetry featuring her garden.

Together the two enjoyed developing their landscape, which includes many whimsical touches including a gazebo, a Corvette mobile, a greenhouse, a variety of sculptures placed among the ferns, forest paths and even a small garden for the elves – something something the couple’s nine grandchildren have found irresistible over the years.

Clearly, the Allans never need to escape to a cottage because they’ve combined both a city home and a country getaway.

“When we bought the house, the frontage was mostly lawn and a vegetable patch, which we continued to use for a while,” she said, but now it’s become a garden. of lush grasses and flowers defined by a long trellis that David built.

She noted that the trellis had been in place for so long that they will soon have to replace it, and added that she had also had to adapt to working with raccoons, rabbits, deer and river otters.

Because the property is mostly rock on the water side, they grow almost anything in pots, and what isn’t in a pot is a “volunteer” that has just grown naturally, spread by birds or the wind.

Inside, they did a major renovation in the kitchen, transforming it from an old kitchen style with a U-shaped counter into a much more usable workspace.

They chose to open it up and install a stainless steel counter – long before it was fashionable – and a long wooden table. They eat at the counter and say that the stainless steel is a marvel and that they have never regretted the choice.

Because the ceiling is sloped, they couldn’t mount the cabinets to the top, but that was a bonus in disguise as it leaves space to hang more of David’s abstract art.

They love the kitchen because they each have their own space, thanks to two separate cooking plates. Diane notes that David is the chef and she is the sous chef, prepping. chop and clean. “David rarely follows a recipe, he improvises and is an excellent cook.”

Together they had a busy, productive and fun-filled retirement with creative projects around the house and garden to keep them occupied and engaged. And it certainly doesn’t look like a grandma’s house.

Visit of the small garden of Victoria Hospice Teeny

When: Sunday, June 12

Where: Five gardens in James Bay, two in Fernwood, two in Vic West and 2 in the Maplewood sector of Saanich

Tickets: $25 at Capital Iron in Victoria and on the West Shore; GardenWorks on Blenkinsop, in Oak Bay and Colwood; and Heirloom Linens in Broadmead Village

REMARK: See full details at