July 2, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
Talk about a domino effect.
Participating in Canada Blooms last
year has led to worldwide exposure for
two Toronto landscape designers.
Alex Bartlett and Robert Boltman of
Bsq. Landscape Design Studio will be
taking part in the Singapore Garden
Festival later this month — one of the
greatest honours in the gardening
Following the show, their display will
be permanently installed at the children’s Botany Garden at the Singapore Botanical Garden.
And as a result, they have also been invited to take part in the 2010
Gardening World Cup in Nagasaki, Japan next October. The theme
of that event — to take place in the gardens of a reproduction of the
Dutch royal residence — is peace. It aims to illustrate how
gardening and green space can heal and promote both inner peace
and peace between nations. Their challenge will be how to “interpret
peace to a child,” explains Bartlett.
It all began with their display at Canada Blooms last year — a
portable office in a shipping container incorporating a number of
green technologies including a solar power generator, a green roof
and rooftop deck, and recycled materials. Known for a sustainable
“green approach” in their designs, Boltman and Bartlett won the
Canada Blooms Environmental Award for the 2009 display.
“Officials from the Singapore show were impressed with our Canada
Blooms installation because there was no waste,” says Bartlett,
admitting that he and Boltman were surprised by the offer. “We
didn’t think what we did was truly that unique. Other people have
done installations in container crates.”
But the duo’s creation is special. After it’s appearance at Canada
Blooms, the winterized installation was moved to a “brown site,” an
unused parking lot at St. Clair Ave. W. and Spadina Ave., and is
now the company’s support office for projects in that area, “and
could be moved across town again for just $150,” says Bartlett.
For the Singapore Garden Festival, the partners will be “trying to
create a design that speaks to Singapore’s history as well as to
what’s going to happen in the future when we will need to be using
less energy,” he says.
The biennial festival attracted more than 200,000 visitors to its inaugural show in December 2006 and more
than 300,000 in July 2008, of which 30 per cent were from overseas.
The Bsq. partners will be among some 30 international garden and floral designers at the show including
participants from Britain, Australia, the United States, South Africa and Japan.
Bsq. specializes in ecologically sound design practices for both private and public clients. Boltman and Bartlett
share a desire to “improve, transform and enhance city gardens, urban spaces, rooftops, building facades and
other open spaces.”
“The majority of our clients are permanent residences,” says Bartlett, “A lot of people are asking us to do more
sustainable things, from planting trees in the right area to installing permeable driveways.” (To encourage as
much rainwater to infiltrate back into the ground as possible.)
The firm does both design and construction. Bartlett, 35, and Boltman, 36, met at Ryerson University where
they both studied Landscape Design and went their own ways gaining experience for several years before
deciding to join forces and open their own firm.
Would they exhibit at Canada Blooms again? You bet. “It’s a good show,” says Bartlett. “We like it because it’s
a not-for-profit show which changes the entire focus. And, it has great support staff.”