Claude and Sandrine Flight first set eyes on their Civic Hospital-area home, it was the yard that caught their attention. Although there was little else but grass and lilac trees when they bought the house in 2005, they saw its potential.
Claude, who grew up in picturesque Newfoundland, had a vision of transforming the yard into a peaceful haven.
"We both love nature, and we wanted a place that made us feel like we were on holiday all the time," says Sandrine.
However, the actual design took shape more gradually. In the first two summers after moving in, the Flights began by planting flower beds and then expanding them, with the help of Manotick Gardens & Landscaping Supplies.
The following year, they worked with Artistic Landscape Design to put in a fish pond and stream, choosing a natural look that emulated a forest brook flowing over rocks.
But the most ambitious part of the project was yet to come. Claude and Sandrine next began planning a patio and pool to fit the oasis they were building in their backyard, enlisting Roger Willis Contracting for the job.
The task was not an easy one, taking two years of design and construction in total. The Flights envisioned a waterfall cascading into the pool, with everything lining up with the stream and pond to create the illusion of it all being part of the same water source, although it obviously had to be kept separate due to the chlorination. A hot tub was built into the pool step, and the pool liner cover was made to look like natural rock.
"It was a very difficult design; we had to work with what we had," says Claude, especially as the solid rock encountered while digging the pool meant it ended up having to be fairly shallow, at five and a half feet.
The final product, however, is stunning, providing a perfect urban retreat for the Flights. The barbecue is hidden in the middle of a carved-out bush to preserve the yard's rustic feel, with a strolling path winding around - and sometimes through - the hedges and flower beds. "(Our friends) say ... they can't believe there's something like this right in the heart of the city," says Sandrine. " ‘Wow' is the word."
• Strolling paths
• Fish pond and stream
• Patio for eating
• Extensive flowering plants