Strolling through a magnificent garden can be awe-inspiring, creativity-boosting and even a bit guilt-inducing. When encountering perfectly trimmed hedgerows, flawless blooms and luscious perennials, one might begin to question the existence – or absence – of one’s own green thumb.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of enjoying tours through five private gardens in Atlanta. One was more beautiful than the next – and each was totally different.
Perhaps the most eclectic artist’s garden was that of Ryan Gainey, an internationally renowned garden designer who created dozens of outdoor rooms on three connecting properties in Decatur. I found this hand-painted tribute (artist unknown) tucked away in one of his many greenhouses and thought it was a beautiful sentiment.
What surprised me most was the functionality of the secondary gardens at the grand Federal style home of Lisa and Herbert Short, designed collaboratively with landscape designer Louse Poer. While the traditional formality of the Short’s English boxwood gardens was colorful and lovely, the urban kitchen garden adjacent to the pool house was a true inspiration.
With its raised bed herb stations, small fenced field planted at the driveway’s edge to offer seasons of fresh vegetables, and goat and chicken pen to provide the family with fresh eggs every day, this unique garden was an excellent reminder that land usage can indeed be sustainable and responsible – even in the suburbs of one of the country’s largest cities.
Another great example of adaptive gardening (my term for really creative!) was found at the home of Elaine and John Carlos. Their Gothic revival estate featured walled grotto fountains, luxurious gardens designed by Alec Michaelides and surprisingly, this fabulous fig tree. The fruit-laden branches have been trained espalier fashion along the stone exterior wall of the home on the pool terrace. Absolutely lovely, space-saving and delicious!