Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Changing the mood



My friend Mary Wayne Dixon, who has been a staunch supporter of the Atlanta Botanical Garden since its inception and is interested in all things to do with gardening and gardens, took a giant leap several years ago.  She lives on a cul-de-sac in Atlanta where all the homes have pretty much the same front landscape - shrubbery at the base of the house and a lawn in front.  Most of the houses have paved sidewalks leading from the driveway to the front door.  Before a transformation, Mary Wayne had the same set-up, with a sloping front lawn that stretched down to the street.

With the help of garden designer and good friend Ryan Gainey,  Mary Wayne's front yard took on an entirely different look.  A retaining wall was built to create a level space, which was topped with gravel. Large stepping stones were put in place leading across the rectangular area to the front door.  A custom iron arch marks the entrance to what is now a Provencal style courtyard.  A rustic portico was built over the front door with wide rounded steps replacing the narrow ones that were original to the house.

In the remaining part of the sloping lawn outside the retaining wall, specimens of Cryptomeria japonica, a fast growing conifer, were planted along with other evergreens to create an enclosure for the courtyard.  In spring, giant white balls of Viburnum macrocephalum arch over into the courtyard, while  Kwanzan cherry trees planted at the courtyard's corners provide structure and shade, as well as puffy pink flowers.  By the front door, a yellow Lady Banks rose cascades from a tree; rosemary is planted near the iron arch, adding to the South of France ambience.

The latest addition to Mary Wayne's garden is in back of the house, where a swimming pool was filled in to provide space for a parterre designed by her late friend and frequent house guest, English author and lecturer Rosemary Verey.  Mary Wayne's garden will be on the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour Mother's Day weekend 2012.  But way before then, I'll give you a sneak peek of the newest part of this wonderful garden.