In her showcase home garden, landscape designer Senga Lindsay practices what she preaches.

Designers of the Year 2009Just as important as the scale of plantings is taking the measure of her clients, says Senga Lindsay. “You have to be a bit of a detective.” Every site visit becomes a search for clues: what colours clients favour, how they use their outdoor space. “It comes down to the art of listening,” says Lindsay, who gained in-depth plant knowledge during three years at the Niagara Park School of Horticulture and earning a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph.Take one recent client: a film producer and world traveller who had a love of gardens but no definitive vision for his own on a narrow West Vancouver lot. The solution they conceived-Pacific West meets Far East-is a Lindsay signature. She’s also known for her devotion to easy-maintenance “bomb-proof” plants, statuesque native grasses and, says judge Ron Rule, her “sincere and consistent” devotion to environmental concerns-particularly, as fellow judge Jim Hole points out, xeriscaping, or low-irrigation design.Her most challenging project has been the yard of her North Vancouver home, a post-and-beam by Thompson, Berick and Pratt. Here she plays plant colours (burgundy to gold to blue-Provence in miniature) against recurring materials to define “rooms” suited to the ecology, her entertaining habits and her chef husband’s food gardens. Lindsay opens her home for a public tour this month (see for September 13 event details), and the lesson for homeowners is simple: everything needs a little nurturing.