Double Take: Bizarrely Beautiful Spires Bloom onto a Vancouver Roof Deck

As it came time to design her 240-square-foot roof deck overlooking Vancouver’s skyline, garden designer Glenna Partridge decided to go bold. “I might have picked a more subdued colour palette to blend with the blue and gray cityscape, but instead I opted to contrast and almost compete with the city view,” she states.

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

Here is the photograph that made me do a double take. What species were those tall amber spires peeking out one of the other plants?

Turns out that they weren’t plants at all, but beautiful handblown glass figurines. “I bought the handblown glass at Southlands Nursery here in Vancouver,” Partridge says. She calls them glass Popsicles.

Modular furniture: Pottery Barn; pub stools: Ikea

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

Full sun, strong winds without irrigation meant that Partridge had to get clever with her planting design. Since there wasn’t any method to water the plants besides lugging a watering can up into the roof, she chose hardy sun-loving and drought-tolerant plants.

Partridge “implanted” the spires in zinc trough planters among the other exotic foliage. “I adored their natural shapes with the plants, and during the nighttime placing a few candles around them makes them glow,” she states. They along with the other plantings also offer privacy from the neighbors without undermining the skyline views.

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

Produced by Seattle artist Barbara Sanderson, the spires come in an array of colors and dimensions (the massive size, seen here, runs around $99). “They are attached to aluminum pipes that will get a fantastic verdigris patina in time,” Partridge says. “They also have models that have wiring via the aluminum pipe with a little bulb to light up the glass Popsicle.”

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

“Succulents were a perfect match for the tough conditions on the roof. They stand up to full sunlight, minimal watering and wind exposure,” Patridge states. “Even though our climate in Vancouver is too cold for succulents year round, I used them like annuals.” Big, lightweight zinc planters do not dry out as fast as smaller planters, cutting on watering chores to once every three times in height of their summer.

The coral-like orange plant to the right is Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’. The green variegated succulent is Aeonium variegata, that Partridge says she chose “for the look of flowers without the deadheading.” Phormiums (the long thin leaves in this picture) offer evergreen structure from the wintermonths, as do the evergreen trailers, Heliathemum ‘Cheviot’, that have peach blossoms in early summer.

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

This really is a close-up of this zinc bar tabletop from the second photo above; the table seats two when pushed against the rail and four when pulled out. It is a wonderful spot to start the day with coffee and end it with apples and wine, Partridge states. From here you are able to see the yearly Celebration of Light, Vancouver’s international fireworks contest.

“I kept the planting into a minimum on the pub table by selecting echeverias to mimic the blue tone of the skies and skyline then inserted the blue glass mulch to mimic the glass of their buildings and give the planting a bit of glow,” Partridge says. She used teal and blue rocks, also bought at Southlands Nursery. If you’re looking for glass stones, she recommends checking with local stores or landscape companies that sell landscape rock and gravel.

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