When it comes to a love of gardening and creative landscaping, Heike Stippler comes by it naturally.

As a child, she was captivated by the opportunity to create her own little spot in her parents' garden. And she brings that passion, expertise and experience to run Heike Designs Inc., an award-winning landscape design, consulting, maintenance, installation and project management, company which serves clients in the Squamish-Pemberton-Whistler region.

"I had my little garden plot, and my brother and I had our tasks to help out. But it was having my own little plot where I could do whatever I wanted which was special," Stippler said. "I started planting things and had little rocks decorating it, making little landscapes. It was my own, tiny area to enjoy."

Along the way, she also absorbed plenty of knowledge.

"My parents and grandparents always had gardens," Stippler said. "I learned a lot from them just by seeing and doing things, like pruning and growing edibles. And through that, things almost became second nature for me."

Later, Stippler augmented that with formal education, earning a degree in architecture/engineering from the Technical University in Braunschweig, Germany.

And while she was set to become an architect, her love of landscaping re-surfaced with the opportunity to help design a public green space in Berlin.

That experience led to her taking up landscaping during her time away from the mountain slopes when she came to Whistler in 1999 to be a ski instructor.

"That background in architecture and engineering, it helps me a lot for what I do now," said Stippler, who is currently Landscape Chair with the BC Landscape and Nursery Association, is on the board of directors with the Invasive Species Council of BC, and in 2014 was named BC Landscape Member of the Year. "For me, it's not just working on a client's garden. It's also the buildings, which I always try and connect the two."

She also emphasized landscaping is an identifiable Red Seal certified trade, that, along with her background in horticulture, design, science and engineering, provides customers with a high, professional standard.

"I believe my gardens benefit from my broader, and constantly updated knowledge that, coupled with a commitment to care deeply about each project, makes what we do unique," she said.

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