Garden Photo of the Day

Renovating an Island Garden

An old garden needed a facelift

Today we’re visiting with Kiah Grant.

I was born and raised in North Vancouver, Canada, but after some intense real estate development, we decided to sell our home in December 2016 and move to a slower pace on Bowen Island, which is a small island 20 minutes by ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver.

The home was an old-timer cottage that dated back to 1920. The previous owner was a master gardener who over the many years of ownership had turned the cliffside property into a terraced garden. She even trucked in several loads of soil to create a level yard on the front slope of the steep property. She had aged in place, and in more recent years the garden had minimal attention, but the bones were there.

When we purchased the home we replaced the septic tank and field and added a 400-square-foot addition to the side of the home with a rooftop deck. This allowed us to refresh the yard area, create a new rock terraced garden, and add an 800-square-foot patio overlooking the ocean.

The existing terraced gardens within the fences were the only deer-proofed areas, so we spent a lot of time weeding and amending the soil the first year and waited to see what dormant plants would emerge.

The next year we began to add the things we love, we removed what we did not love, and we also worked on adding to the roadside garden that is open to the deer. On Bowen there are few roadside gardens; it’s mostly evergreen-lined rural roads, so we wanted to do something for the passersby to enjoy. That required trial and error with deer-resistant plants and trees.

Because we have so little garden area, we have also added a lot of planters and pots to the patio for added space.

Entry gate

The rock garden before. Great bones, but a lot of work to be done.

And after!

Right side of the rock garden.

Detail of the right side of the rock garden.

Ocean views from the lower yard.

A birdbath surrounded by lush plantings.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. Maggieat11 06/29/2020

    Beautiful! Great job with adding some wonderful plants. I love the terracing/layering. Great shot of your kitties, obviously special!😸 What are some of your favorite plants? Thanks for sharing.

    1. KiahG 06/29/2020

      The honeysuckle is probably my favorite when in bloom, it smells like orange blossoms and I like to sit out there in the evening when the scent fills the air.

  2. blondie3 06/29/2020

    Wow, what a beautiful place to live, that honeysuckle on the gate is fabulous, lucky you!

    1. KiahG 06/29/2020

      A very fortunate inheritance from the previous owner

  3. sandyprowse 06/29/2020

    What a spectacular property. It was a joy to see. Thank you for posting it. I hope the former owner had the opportunity to see her work on the garden has been continued and appreciated.

    1. KiahG 06/29/2020

      Sadly, no ...she was in her 90's and has passed

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/29/2020

    Absolutely fabulous! I would love to join your cats sitting on that grass taking in that view.

  5. nwphillygardener 06/29/2020

    You've left us wanting more photos! I wish had a better feel for how all these lovely pieces fit together. It seems like a very special garden indeed.

    1. KiahG 06/29/2020

      Perhaps FG will allow me to submit again at some point in the future. If you are on facebook I have my garden album set to "public"

  6. User avater
    simplesue 06/29/2020

    Loved hearing the background story of the garden before you rescued it. You've picked a fabulous location to live in with so much nature and beautiful views- plus a fabulous garden.
    Just love what you've done, seeing the before and after photo. I really really like that cozy private entrance gate with the vines, wow!

    1. KiahG 06/29/2020

      Thank you!

  7. btucker9675 06/29/2020

    Wondrous!! Your kitties look like happy little foxes!

  8. wittyone 06/29/2020

    It must be very satisfying to renew a previously well designed garden fallen on less happy times.

    The honeysuckle on the gate is just gorgeous but how do you get through the gate with the honeysuckle cascading behind it? Is there a hidden archway just behind the gate?

    Just curious.

    1. KiahG 06/29/2020

      It grows over top of the entry, it's two planting that grow up the posts on either side of the pergola.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest