On a recent visit to Charleston, I happened upon a beautiful garden and couldn’t resist including it in this issue. The New Dawn roses in full bloom caught my eye as I took an early morning walk to the Battery. I was trying to muster the courage to knock on the front door and, to my surprise, the owner came out. She was lovely as she walked me through her garden.
She gave me the phone number of her friend, Dr. Gene Johnson, who worked with her to bring the garden back its original Charleston radiance. Before its restoration, the garden was a scene of chaos and disorderly flow. The patio area was falling apart and wasn’t functional, the pathways had too many curves, and the arches were not pleasing to the eye.True to form, this Charleston garden occupies a small space that displays extraordinary beauty without overwhelming a visitor. Upon entering, I was greeted by New Dawn Roses that were blossoming along the entire length of the fence. On the backside of these roses there are two layers of clipped hedges—the taller is Podocarpus and the lower is boxwood. The evergreen hedges continue throughout the garden giving it structure and bones. Many residents in Charleston use Saint Augustine for grass panels but the couple decided on zoysia because they love the texture and feel.
They love having grass in the garden and use the yard more often because of it.
The patio was not pretty or functional and it needed the most help. It was redone in Old Carolina Brick to make it look like it had been there forever. The much larger terrace is now used for entertaining. It is surrounded by lush plantings of boxwood, ferns, camellia, hydrangea and fatsia and it is interspersed with annuals for continuous color. The walkways, now straight and leading to a targeted destination, are made of flagstone.
In keeping with a traditional Charleston garden, the fountain was added to provide beautiful background sound. The fountain is surrounded by a boxwood hedge and has various water plants blooming at different times. It is centered on a folly that is called the “little sunroom.” Many homes in Charleston have old structures that were once used as privies before indoor plumbing was available. Most have been refurbished so that they are pleasant to look at but you don’t really spend time in them.
One of the fabulous focal points of the garden is a solid marble statue that the owners brought from Europe. When they started the garden renovation, they decided, because of the statue’s weight, they would leave her in the same spot. They tied it to the rest of the garden by enclosing it with boxwoods and planting various perennials in the center for interest. The stately sculpture fits right into this beautiful garden. The restoration of the garden was a complete success by turning it into a functional, serene garden that will be enjoyed for years to come.