Planning Plant Communities

Native and Edible Garden Design

Having spent a lot of the last couple of years working with and learning from a lot of native plants, I have decided to begin offering a limited design service. It will specifically focus on native plant garden planning. 

It will include working with you to help plan out the initial plantings for a space that you have decided to allocate to a native plant community.

Rather than continuing with the widespread practice of extracting soil from healthy ecosystems and transporting it to new gardens, I’m looking for people who are willing to work with the existing soil along with and minimal/reclaimed inputs, such as mulches from arborist wood chips, salvaged cardboard, leaf bags etc. and, where appropriate, annual plantings for a transition year to prepare the planting area.  You can find a video on ecological garden making on this page

I won’t be designing any paving stone or other concrete over gravel spaces, but I can help with planning paths of travel and sightlines, as well as planning out vegetable garden placement, or the inclusion of other plants that offer food for humans, and practical elements like rain gardens, laundry lines and compost areas. 

Rather than centering the planning on aesthetics, I’m offering assistance in developing a plan for converting ecologically depleted spaces into places that include as much healthy, thriving life as possible, including yours. Not that the results can’t be beautiful, healthy, thriving systems tend to be beautiful. 

If this appeals to you, please email me a description of what you would like to work with me to accomplish and I’ll let you know if it sounds like something I can help with and what I would recommend for next steps. 

  •  My service area includes urban and suburban Ottawa and can also include Perth
  •  My meeting availability is weekdays in the daytime and early evening

About Sundaura Alford-Purvis

The areas of experience and expertise I bring to this new process: 
  • Working with urban and suburban spaces and small scale rural sites; I’m not qualified to design a farm, even a regenerative one. 
  • Restoring soil health 
  • Maximizing the inclusion of native and edible plants 
  • Prioritizing repair before replacement 
  • Prioritizing investing in labour before materials 
  • Making the most of available resources; use less, use what you have, or use what is going to waste, before purchasing new materials. 
The rest of my resume: 
  • Lifelong relationship with all things green and growing 
  • Began working in the horticultural industry in 1998 
  • Took a short side trip into Architectural Technology, completing my diploma in 2002 
  • Returned to horticulture and began to specialize in landscape design in 2003 
  • Became a Certified Landscape Designer (CLD) in 2006 
  • Received several landscape industry Awards of Excellence for garden and landscape design over the following years
  • Launched A Cultivated Art Inc in the fall of 2012 
  • Served as an executive board member of the Ottawa chapter of Landscape Ontario from 2011 to 2017 
  • Completed the Gaia College Organic Master Gardener course and related certification in 2016 
  • Began working part time as the executive director for the Society for Organic Urban Land Care in 2017 
  • Began teaching in the Horticultural Industries program at Algonquin College in 2017, updating and revising the landscape design course material and working with roughly 50 students each year. 

An important note on my availability: 
  • Weekdays are my preferred time to meet, but I can meet in the early evening on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 
  • I am not available to meet on weekends except in exceptional circumstances. 
Using resources sustainably also includes my time and energy: 
  • The Native Plant Nursery takes up a lot of my time from April until the end of June so my availability is very limited during those months
  • I teach the Learning Land Care course on alternating Thursdays and host Tending Tuesdays, a casual social gathering for anyone interested in land care, on the second Tuesday evening of each month from May to October at the Just Food Farm
I have, in the past, pushed myself to the point that I have become physically ill. This isn’t healthy or sustainable. It also doesn’t result in me providing my best work for you or your project. 
With this in mind, I have concluded that I can effectively support ten to fifteen clients working through the development of a relationship with your space each year. When I've reached my client limit, I'll post my next expected availability here and on the home page of this site.


If you have somewhere to work with plants and soil, you have the opportunity to help support the health of the entire ecosystem.


Providing guidance as you engage in the process of supporting land and plants  the intention of providing them with what they need to become a healthy system.

Native Plants

Visit the plant library to get to know some of the plants that are native to Ontario and could find a home in your garden


How is this different?
Aren’t all gardens good for the environment?