Landscape Designer of the Year 2012: Anne Talbot-Kelly
Vancouver's Anne Talbot-Kelly creates enchanting, sustainable landscapes—with a dash of whimsy.
There’s hidden treasure in this garden: strawberries quietly growing in balcony containers, a Charlie Brown-esque apple tree sprouting its first fruit of the season, a bay leaf plant climbing a trellis. That’s Anne Talbot-Kelly’s style. “I like to show people that gardens can be more than just flowers and plants,” says Talbot-Kelly. “So I stick surprises in there: blueberries, a pot of herbs beside the barbecue. It brings people into the garden.”
This year’s Landscape Designer of the Year has been working in the field for 25 years. She trained under award-winning landscape architect Geoff Woods, and remains inspired by his philosophy of balance. “It’s about yin and yang: if you’ve got too many flowers, it’s unbalanced; if there’s too much hardscaping, it’s boring. You need angles and curves and changing seasons to bring a garden to life.” Though all of Talbot-Kelly’s projects are unique, her balancing act is always in play. In a garden she designed for a neighbour, a vertical slate water feature gets a shot of colour from vibrant orange blossoms.
Organic practices are part of her design ethos, and she reuses and recycles whenever possible. (In one project, old windows became lean-to greenhouses for the garage-side garden.) And with everything she takes on—be it designing a modern but kid-friendly front yard, or turning renovation refuse into a minimalist car park—Talbot-Kelly aims to create a clean, bio-diverse environment that represents a sustainable ecosystem.
As she spoke, she was just coming off her busy spring season, and would barely get a chance to sit and enjoy the fruits (slight pun intended) of her labour before getting back to the drafting board. But those precious summer days, sitting by a trickling fountain as a lush Angel Trump tree fills the air with a fragrant tropical sent, are what she lives for—and why she’ll be doing this work for years to come. “I think gardens are important to our souls,” Talbot-Kelly says. “There’s something special about a really beautiful garden—it becomes a place where things want to be: butterflies, birds, humans. The ultimate goal for me is making people want to be in this magical space.” wl