A garden grows with us over time – or do we grow with our garden?
This year at Stonehurst Place our gardens have flourished – 8 years on, they are really coming into their own. I graduated in 2007 from a garden design school in London, fresh with ideas which I implemented at Stonehurst Place both inside and outside the inn. For me, there is nothing like continuity and flow between the two spaces to truly create something comfortable and special. Gardens continue to develop; it is our tendency to stuff them full of plants at the beginning so that they look ‘perfect’ from the get go, but to my eye the best gardens are ones that grow with us. Our ideas change, our understanding of what we need and what the garden needs changes, and as we live together somehow it just seems to get better and better.
I’ve filled our gardens with special plants, like Acanthus mollis, which should never survive in our Zone 8 but does (and blooms!). I was researching the plant in a garden design studio and found the for sale website for the old Stonehurst B&B. The house is filled with acanthus in various areas, from the carved lions heads on the dining room fireplace and the Music Room inglenook bench arms, to fabric I chose for the Music Room sheers and the large acanthus leaf in green concrete at our large front steps landing.
There are special spots in our gardens, including The Bluff that overlooks Piedmont Avenue with a lovely bench to take in the sunset, have wedding photos taken, or just perch and look down on street life passing by. It is this area I will turn my focus and efforts to next – it has a beautiful backdrop of developing Hydrangeas, and stands of Hellebores or Lenten Roses around it, but I am working with Barry Glick of Sunshine Farms to fill the area with more and more stands of his lush and colorful Hellebores hybrids he creates using a paintbrush! He’s an incredible plantsman, and you’ll find this Southern Living article about Barry and his Hellebores work fascinating.
Of course Barry has hundreds of other plant varieties, and I can’t wait to work with him and David Dempseyof Atlanta’s Viridis Garden Design to weave more unique plant materials in the area. When you stroll the gardens of Stonehurst Place, you will find small signs that let you know what beauties you’re looking at – a mini garden tour if you will. Give it a twirl on your next visit – and be sure to notice our mulch made of crushed Georgia pecan shells!