Your swing gently sways with the breeze as leaves rustle in the towering trees above. You step onto a carpet of soft moss, passing an enclosed garden of white flowers and following a winding walkway, where you breathe in the scent of beautiful blossoms. You admire the handsome boxwood hedges and patchwork of gorgeous ground cover, as you descend a staircase of grass into a fragrant herb garden. It sounds like a dream, but this garden is a reality. Nestled among the hills of Mountain Brook under a canopy of trees, this garden underwent a complex transformation to become the botanical work of art it is today.
“Several ideas were proposed for the rear garden area in the initial phases that ultimately concluded with the sweeping, curved retaining wall, allowing for a large, open space off the main body of the house,” says John G. Wilson of Golightly Landscape Architecture. “So, it worked well to have the flower border following the wall.”
Hemmed in by flowers and trees, this large, open backyard space is a rejuvenating refuge.
“The flower garden’s success is due to Pratt Brown’s Landscapes’ maintenance department that is always making seasonal adjustments to provide a never-ending supply of color throughout the year,” says John.
The abundant mixed blossoms, which are thoughtfully maintained throughout the year, are meant to provide the homeowners with an array of flowers to cut for indoor arrangements.
Wild beauty among the perfectly coiffed gardens
“In the front yard, a confusing sequence of walls and overgrown plants often led visitors to the side door instead of the front door,” says John G. Wilson, founder of Golightly Landscape Architecture. “Our goal was to simplify the wall work and make a clear, direct path to the front door.” They redesigned the driveway to allow for more parking and created an obvious walkway of brick and stone leading to the front door. The homeowners wanted the backyard pool removed and John wanted to clear the layers of overgrowth from the sprawling, undeveloped backyard to create usable spaces.
“No matter how great the plan is on paper, a garden’s success is dependent on the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the contractors involved,” says John. “Robert Fry with Fry/Jones Construction assembled an incredible team to build this garden. Pratt Brown and his Landscape Installation Superintendent, Bruce Williams, of Pratt Brown’s Landscapes, provided gorgeous plant material and collaborated with me to make sure all the spaces flowed together. But the flower garden’s continued success is due to Pratt’s maintenance department that is always making seasonal adjustments to provide a never-ending supply of color throughout the year.”
Golightly Landscape Architecture worked with an existing retaining wall to help frame the home’s cozy front yard area and set it apart from the sprawling hill and long driveway leading up to the home.
“I often like to combine brick and stone and always wanted the opportunity to execute a pattern such as the front walk,” says John.
“The brick and stone paving was meticulously installed by Edwin Torres of Carrigan Stone,” says John. “He did an incredible job of marrying the random stone edge to the running bond brick coursing pattern.”
A beautiful planter spills forth with the handiwork of Pratt Brown’s Landscapes.
“A brick coining detail was added to the arched front door,” says John, of one way that they merged the new landscape architecture into the existing home.
The outdoor dining area is resplendent, a picture of subdued elegance on the stately stone patio.
Close to the house, the hard edges of brick and stone bordered in mondo or lawn give way to gravel paths and irregular stone walkways as one meanders farther from the home.
“Stairs and walkways are important tools for landscape architects,” says John. “Besides the obvious connecting spaces and mediating changes in elevation, they are an opportunity to pull architecture into the garden.”
“To help pull the architecture of the home into the garden, I used the brick and stone detail in the walks throughout the garden spaces,” says John.
“The plantings along the façades of the house of boxwoods and mondo were used to simplify and unify the plantings,” says John. “This approach is a classic look that can work well with almost any style of house.”
The white blooms of the white garden are accented by a Japanese maple, creeping fig along the left wall and a stone wall, enclosing the space for privacy.
“The homeowners wanted a swing, so beside the family’s ‘pet cemetery,’ we created a contemplative space surrounded with a boxwood hedge and mondo used to frame two rectangular moss rugs,” says John.
“A central stone paver walk divides the moss rugs leading to a swing looking back at the house,” says John. “The moss was harvested from another area of the property and has thrived in its new setting.”
A cherub peeks into the mossy garden.
“This area throughout the years used to border a pool that was removed as part of the garden renovation,” says John.
“Embracing its microclimate in what seems to be a full-sun garden, we were able to have fun with a variety of shade-loving material helped out by two newly planted Green Leaf Japanese Maples flanking the space,” says John.
The shade-loving ground cover along the latticework wall includes a patchwork of heuchera, ferns, mazus, ajuga and solomon’s seal.
The sunset filters through the trees for a dreamy afternoon in this gorgeous garden.
The foxglove salute the setting sun.
Pratt Brown’s Landscapes keeps the flower border lush and luxurious with a variety of plants and flowers.
The flower wall is hemmed in by a stone wall, adjacent to the herb garden and charming gardening house.
“The radial lawn steps with brick risers that cascade through the flower border down to the lower lawn are softer on the eye,” says John. “They merge architecture into the garden in an elegant way.”
“As you get further from the house, irregular shaped stones are surrounded in creeping ground covers for seasonal interest,” says John.
The homeowner, an avid gardener, saw a gardening cottage online and fell in love, so John worked her dream gardening hut into the landscape.
The herb and vegetable garden will soon see tomatoes as the Alabama summer arrives.
This bench in the herb garden is the perfect spot to rest and breathe in the fresh rosemary and thyme.
A garden gnome keeps watch over the premises.
Landscape Architect: John G. Wilson of Golightly Landscape Architecture
General Contractor: Robert Fry of Fry/Jones Construction
Mason: Carrigan Stone
Landscape Contractor: Pratt Brown’s Landscapes, Inc.
Exterior light fixtures: CopperMoon
Thank you to Eric & Jamie Photography for the stunning images of this glorious garden!
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