When Bob and Lola Jones moved into their 1928 white brick house in Homeland, many original plantings, including ancient azaleas, ringed the property. “One of the first things we found was an original blueprint of the garden wall,” says Lola.
Lola thought the garden was perfect as it was, but Bob, bitten by the gardening bug at their previous house down the street, had other ideas. He set about tidying the beds inside those brick walls, then planted new trees for privacy: a magnolia tree to resonate with one outside the wall and a few Leyland cypress trees. A large sugar maple grew near the patio, so he planted a shade-tolerant, low-maintenance, green tapestry around it. He punctuated the cool green with seasonal colors of azaleas, bulbs, ferns, perennials and annuals to create a lush environment for outdoor entertaining on the adjacent loggia. “It’s all about views,” he says. He opens a gate in the original garden wall to reveal a new area of sunny, terraced gardens.
In this densely planted area, Bob’s friend, landscaper Bob Jackson, constructed paths and elevated beds. Bob then added shadblow (serviceberry) trees, planting an assortment of hydrangeas underneath three of them. He covered a series of tuteurs with two favorite plants, roses and clematis, and added mildew-resistant ‘Miss Kim’ lilacs. The gardens now overflow with plants that bloom from early spring to late fall: hyacinths, tulips, alliums, tree peonies, foxgloves, Asiatic lilies, black-eyed Susans, dahlias and Japanese anemones. Edging the adjoining, original, steep staircases are a host of containers filled with pink and white begonias, double impatiens, calla lilies, variegated hostas and varieties of pink and lime coleus.
CONCEPT: Continuous garden interest from every vantage point in the house— breakfast room, kitchen, dining room, living room, outdoor terrace and loggia. To further unify the gardens, Bob repeats plantings of liriope, hosta, hydrangea, ferns, peonies and even trees like Southern magnolias. Not surprisingly, this president of Jones Lighting Specialists also uses lighting to unify his garden in evening. “But I’d rather see a garden underlit than overlit,” he says. “I’ve only up-lighted the three large shadblow, the river Birch and visible areas of the wall. I always make sure to intersperse lots of white-flowering annuals such as impatiens, white caladium and angelonia to reflect the moonlight.”
biggest challenge: “Critters!” Bob recounts the story of the climbing hydrangea he trained to the third floor of the house as a backdrop to the terraced gardens. “One day I hear a rustling, and the *@!*%?*! squirrel had chewed off the entire top to make a nest.” “The bunnies love the lilies,” adds Lola. “We call the garden the bunny buffet.”
biggest satisfaction: “When I entertain, people say they feel like they’re in Tuscany,” says Lola.
“I enjoy getting up, having breakfast and seeing everything,” says Bob.
garden time: Two days a week, Thursdays and Sundays, when Bob is not at work. “I’m no fine gardener,” says Lola, who does a brilliant job of maintaining dozens of coral geraniums in the interior white window boxes in the pentagonal breakfast room.
garden as therapy: “I enjoy the solitude after talking all day,” says Bob. “It’s very nice to have a place where no cell phones are permitted.” A new project this year has been a secluded corner of the upper garden where he’s created a quiet garden room beneath Leyland cypress trees that he’s limbed up and underplanted with ferns. He’s furnished it with tall etagères of pots of asparagus ferns, bamboo-esque furniture and a mirror on one wall for visual interest, more light and horticultural reflections.
- You have to give yourself time for trial and error.
- You have to study the light requirements of the plants. It really does matter. Some like sun, and some like shade.
- Don’t be afraid to move things around.
- Unless it is major, plant more than one. Plant six or 12 or 20!