Landscape and garden design is an early second career for Cynthia. Though always fascinated by plants and nature as a young woman, it never occurred to her that she could do this for a living. She was born in Winnipeg Canada, where temperatures routinely go to 40 below; gardening was not a top-of-mind activity.

A first career, in advertising, took her from Winnipeg to Toronto to New York, where in 1983 she married John Gillis, an Architect. A full-blown love of landscaping began when they moved into a townhouse with a small garden space. ‘I seem to have discovered a true love as I planned the space and the plants’ she says, ‘and it seems I was very good at it.’ Various friends and neighbors asked for help with their gardens, and some offered to pay for the service!

By 1986 Cynthia decided that this is what she wants to do for the rest of her life. She left advertising to devote herself to making gardens. To gain the knowledge necessary to do this work professionally, she took courses at the New York Botanical Garden, and studied at the Clock House School of Garden Design in England.

She and her husband often work together. He is doing several country houses for which she has designed the gardens.