What’s Your Garden Inspiration?

Soil, sun and water can always be amended or adapted to create a nice garden. But there’s another element at the root of the most amazing gardens:  inspiration. It can be as simple as a color, a shape or a picture or as complicated as a memory, a smell or a dream. I really enjoy helping people unearth inspiration in their surroundings and see it through to the finished garden they envisioned.

One client already had her inspiration when she brought us in to help her realize her vision for her recently-purchased, gracious home on a wooded hill.

The homeowner, a world traveler, chose this home partly for its New Orleans feel. Its front façade is reminiscent of the city’s Double Gallery architecture, and she knew the lower patio, surrounding three sides of the home, would be perfect for hosting garden parties. So we set out to create a New Orleans-inspired garden.

The patio is wide, but not wide enough for the flow she wanted for entertaining. The party space needed to be extended into the grassy area, which was sloped and neither level nor wide enough. First, the scrubby, out-of-scale bushes and shrubs had to go!

We re-graded the front yard to work with the design plan.

A long, retaining wall was built to support the additional dirt needed to bring the grass area up to the level of the patio. We chose a boulder wall over a more formal and traditional, cut-stone wall. The boulder retaining wall had a casual, natural appeal that was well-suited to the country setting.

It wouldn’t be a New Orleans-inspired garden without a fountain as a centerpiece. We installed a treasured fountain the homeowner had brought with her from her previous home. The low- profile bed preserves the view from the patio level to the forest and mountains beyond.

Now, the space is just what the homeowner envisioned:  A bit of New Orleans Garden District charm right at home in the North Georgia Mountains. Garden parties invite guests to enjoy the shaded patio and spill out onto the lawn for sunshine or stargazing.

But one more change was needed to complete the picture.


The approach to the property didn’t do justice to the home or the front garden. The asphalt driveway was very steep, creating an angle that obscured the view. It was also in poor condition. I designed a curved driveway that would accentuate the home, the landscaping and the stone work. It would also make it much easier to get up the hill!

After building a second boulder retaining wall below the first one, we installed a new, curved, concrete driveway, the finishing touch to the elevation view. From street-level, looking up from the bottom of the hill, the property has a casual look in keeping with the neighborhood. From the upstairs porch, it has all the sophistication of a formal garden.

Do you need some help finding inspiration for your next garden project?

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