Maestro’s garden garners national magazine attention

Esquimalt resident Peter McCoppin takes pride in his landscaping

Standing in his backyard oasis, Peter McCoppin flips through photos of the yard taken before its transformation.

He points to a picture of a typical grass lawn that surrounded his Saxe Point home in Esquimalt, that is, until he decided a makeover was in order and the grass had to go after he purchased the property in 2006.

“It was pretty neglected and overgrown,” said McCoppin. “Lawn gives nothing to nature.”

The decision to go lawn-free raised some eyebrows in the neighbourhood, but McCoppin and View Royal resident Lorraine Locherty, owner of Urban Habitats Gardening Services and the yard’s designer, are used to pushing creative boundaries.

McCoppin has conducted symphony orchestras on four continents, founded the Victoria Symphony Splash and is now a leadership coach.

Locherty was an award-winning investigative reporter and deputy news editor at the Calgary Herald.

Now their landscaped work of art is gaining national attention. It drew a news team from Canadian Gardening magazine in late September, which is profiling McCoppin’s garden in print next year.

A Gardens West magazine team is planning to come next spring to take photos for publication next summer.

Visitors to McCoppin’s backyard marvel over a charming pathway that weaves past ornamental grasses, flowers and bushes and under an apple tree. Artichokes, strawberries, figs and red currants grow alongside flowers and other perennials.

“You’ll see a rose and then zucchini and beside that, evergreen huckleberry,” Locherty said.

“To be self-sustaining in this world, that’s forward-thinking, and it works with nature,” McCoppin said. “We talk about the 100-mile diet. What about the one-mile diet?”

They are hoping the national attention will generate interest in one-hour online gardening classes that Locherty hopes to begin teaching this fall from McCoppin’s backyard.

The goal is to inspire and show others how to create their own habitats.

“It’s creating a living space,” Locherty said of her preference for going lawn-free.

“This is better,” McCoppin added. “This is paradise.”

emccracken@vicnews.com