Personal Space: Cary and Katya Pinkowski

                                                     personal space sept 2012

                                                     photo credit: Lucas Finlay

“When we come home from the 9-to-5 world,” say Cary and Katya Pinkowski, “it’s wonderful to have such an escape from everyday life” 


1.  Cary Pinkowski (founder of Astur Gold) met his wife, Katya, in Moscow (where she took degrees in public relations and municipal politics). The two were married in Salzburg, Austria, and now travel constantly.  They bought this West Van home from Intrawest CEO Mo Faris in 1999 (realtor mom Donna helped with the sale). Dog Chelsea, named for the soccer team, was born in Moscow, too

2. The view was originally obstructed by a palisade of 30-foot pine trees (the remaining few have been bonsai’d over 10 years); the slope was dominated by cotone­aster and laurel. Dad Rudi, designer of the Mediterranean-inspired garden, spends 20 hours each week tending the grounds for his son (Cary’s busy developing a gold mine in Asturias, Spain); he lives just up the hill

3. The garden, as well as being a welcoming respite, exists for two reasons: to shock visitors (“We don’t all live in igloos with dog sleds parked outside!” says Rudi with glee) and to remind them of a larger world beyond these shores. Rudi, who retired after 40 years expanding his hair salon chains (His & Hers, Expressions, Waves Hair Design), admits gardening is “a hobby that has come to control me”

4. In 1988, Rudi—as president of the Pacific Northwest Palm & Exotic Plant Society—approached Hermann Christian, then the city’s park supervisor, with a proposition: a trial planting of 16 palm trees, paid for by a $25,000 donation, at English Bay. The idea for such an adventurous planting began when sister city Odessa gifted Vancouver five palms in the late ’60s. (One of the originals survives near the aquarium.) There are now well over 100 palm trees along Pacific and Denman streets—all donations