The story of Renate’s garden began during a trip to Europe when we visited a garden that featured several ponds. Its natural beauty and serenity had such an impact on both of us that we decided to incorporate a pond or two into our own garden back home. This decision became reality in the spring of 1995 when we both agreed that instead of the planned honeymoon following our wedding that summer, we would put our resources into creating a pond, a lasting and meaningful gift to each other.

(1) View of the house.

(2) View of the backyard.

Following some extensive research on the subject, we contacted Sylvain Racine from L’Autre Paysage. Sylvain turned out to be a resourceful and creative artist, a treasure trove of exciting ideas. Visiting his ponds, we found each of them to be a magnificent piece of art in itself. We explained our vision to him and then gave him carte blanche… He finished two enchanting ponds the day before we got married. And as many relatives, friends, and acquaintances had given us shrubs, trees and plants as wedding gifts, we were able to incorporate them in and around the ponds.

For us, this was the start of a passion that continues to grow along with our garden. Although at the beginning, we did not know much about gardening, let alone the many various plants available to us both in nature and nurseries, we quickly learned with unending enthusiasm through reading, visits to other gardens and nurseries and the invaluable advice from our gardening friends.

We discovered that a garden is truly an artistic creation because it reflects the soul and personality of its owners. It calls for imagination and creativity in composition, a marriage of form, colour, texture, and fragrances. To quote a friend: It is the slowest of the performing arts!

Renate has been a nature lover since her childhood, a trait she inherited from her father, Ernest Heidersdorf, one of Canada’s most famous painters of flowers (see his website: Today, the garden reflects this strong influence of Renate’s father and is the ultimate tribute to his memory.

Renate is an artist well known for her paintings of landscapes and plants (see her website: She sees her garden as a living painting, a continuously changing canvas. In her garden there are no established rules. We mix indoor plants with outdoor plants, tropical plants with native plants, annuals grow alongside perennials. Driftwood, petrified wood, rocks we brought back from various trips, sculptures and fountains enhance this melange of plants.

In 1999, our enthusiasm having no bounds, we added a third pond that is bigger and deeper, allowing fish and frogs to hibernate safely.

Views of the biggest of the three ponds.

Then, during the spring of 2000, we built our very own swimming pond, again with Sylvain’s creative input. Staggered rocks over which water cascades surround the pool. The addition of an actual sandy beach gives us the feeling of lounging in some exotic hideaway.

The most remarkable aspect of the swimming pond is that no chemical products are used for its maintenance. The water is filtered naturally by being pumped through a bed of rocks, and oxygenating plants purify it. The pool has become an integrated part of the garden and gives the impression of having been around for a long time.

Since 1995, our garden has grown by leaps and bounds, forever dynamic. We have experimented with plants and trees; we have transformed a static garden into an ever-changing panorama of colour. It has become a showpiece of nature with its hundreds of species of trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Vibrant hues of colours set off by green spaces give the eye an ever-changing focus, the murmur of water cascading over rocks soothes the soul, while the birds provide a never ending rendition of nature’s symphony. Our garden is an oasis of peace in a busy city.