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Combine nature and style to create your oasis

by Danielle Leonard | Photography by Nikki Wesley

Most Canadians will agree that the backyard becomes an extension of the home once the warm summer days arrive. It’s no wonder that we are more eager than ever to transform an uninspired patio into an oasis for relaxation as well as a hub for entertaining. Who better to turn to for guidance on how to do this than downtown Burlington’s Centro Garden. Known for its selection of unique décor and its expertise in design, art, style and gardens, Centro knows what it takes to design spaces that embrace both style and nature.

Go eclectic

Is there any such thing as too many flower pots? Centro Garden store manager and curator, Jennifer Klassen doesn’t think so. However, she recommends slowly growing your collection of containers by adding a couple new ones every summer. But keep it eclectic. Although her personal collection of pots at home are all beige in colour, they vary in height and size to add interest.

Simple in nature

When creating arrangements for a garden pot, use a maximum of three colours per container according to Klassen. Alternatively, follow one of the latest trends in container gardening by including one large tropical plant in a single pot. This can be contrasted with another pot that is filled with only one type of flower. 

“This year, at home, I have one pot with all the same flowers,” says Klassen. “And the pot beside it has a single Hibiscus and another has a tropical plant.” If you choose to combine your plants and flowers into one container, however, it’s important to ensure that they all have the same sun and watering requirements to keep all your plants healthy through the summer.

Succulent design

While these compact drought-resistant plants are super popular as of late, Klassen emphasizes that succulents have always been a big focus for Centro Garden.

“We’ve always been about succulents,” says Klassen. “I think they look interesting and they don’t have to be watered daily, just once per week.” This makes them easy to care for outside. Although popular all year long, the plants actually perform better outside during the summer, rather than indoors because they require full sun.

“They stay small and cute when outdoors since they’re not reaching for whatever light they can find through windows,” says Klassen. These versatile plants look great combined in a tabletop arrangement or in a larger pot.


One of the easiest ways to personalize an outdoor space is through al fresco dining accessories.

“My family eats outside every day that we can,” admits Klassen. “We have a tiny house so our outside is our living space in the summer. If it’s not raining and it’s above 20, we’re outside eating.” Her favourite items for personalizing her backyard space are: a large serving tray, ice bucket, a caddy for carrying glasses in and out, and pillows and blankets to place on chairs and sofas. She notes that lanterns are also great accessories to create nighttime ambience.

Natural indoors

As the cooler temperatures arrive in late summer and early fall, there are plenty of ways to bring nature indoors. Klassen has seen the popularity of house plants soar over the past year as customers scoop them up throughout the winter months to add natural life to their interiors. Another popular trend she’s seeing is sculptures made of wood. From small tabletop to life size sculptures, the look of all-natural, unmanufactured wood is finding a place in contemporary home design.

You don’t need to look far beyond your own backyard for design inspiration. Embrace nature’s beauty, play with your favourite colours and textures and, most of all, get outside to savour the long summer days this lush season brings.