Friday, April 18, 2014


GARDENS visited in English Village... 


The Swann House, a formal, stone manor located at 3536 Redmont Road, includes elaborate cornices, embossed gutters, and intricately carved moldings.

Spiral topiaries and formal parterre hedges, with the herb Lavender inset, blanket the front terrace.

The front lawn expanse overlooks a “park-like” diverse collection of Native trees, shrubs, and perennials.

The back terrace, looming above the city, includes several parterre gardens nestled in pea gravel paths and sitting areas. Frank Fleming chess pieces play on the grass checkerboard reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.  One expects the Queen of Hearts to wander out and bellow “Off with her head!” 

From the side terrace, one meanders along a trail through the recently-added landscape. Some favorites caught my attention:

Cornflower or Bachelor’s Button

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

A flaming Native Azalea among ferns.

Solomon’s Seal

A weeping Eastern Redbud

A moss lined vessel in the meadow to welcome bathing birds.

Exiting the property, one cannot help notice the recently added Yew lining the stone wall and the collection of Long Leaf Pines, mature Oaks, and Southern Magnolia beyond.

Designer Zach Westall of Creative Landscape Design commented, “It will look awesome in five years when the landscape matures!”


A marvelous series of garden “rooms” created by Troy Rhone of Troy Rhone Garden Design lies beyond the privacy hedge of this two-story brick Tudor home located at 3509 Country Club Road. Boxwood balls and manicured hedges set the tone for the remainder of this organized landscape. Evergreen structure such as Camellia sasanqua, Dwarf Burford Holly, Arborvitae, and Boxwood hedges are used repeatedly throughout.

The herb garden is divided into four quadrants with a pea gravel path creating an axis. Rosemary, Lamb’s Ear and Boxwood balls lend an elegant feel to the herb garden. 

A few steps down, one enters a pea gravel patio with a central fountain. Again, evergreens provide privacy and structure.  Continuing along the patio, a Japanese Maple adds height and interest to the planted area.

An adorable frog trumpets as the focal point in the pillared planter in the herb garden.

A lawn appears in a few more steps - bordered by perennials and screened with evergreen hedging including Dwarf Burford Holly.  A stone path bisects the lawn and leads to an arbor announcing the next terraced garden.

A raised bed behind the perennial border boasts roses, azalea, fern, and the signature boxwood hedges. Magnolia create privacy.

Lamb’s ear combines well with many so perennials such as Catmint and Daylily.

A peony in bloom in the border.

A view to the fountain and pillared planter beyond. Rosemary and Ajuga join Mondo Grass and Daylily while Camellia sasanqua provide structure to the garden.

Dwarf salvia and Iris beyond.

Raised beds allow vegetables and fruits to be easily grown. Arborvitae screen neighbors and create a private retreat.

Close-up of strawberry fruit.

Another outdoor room nested among trees and shrubs completes the tour. Who would not want to hang out at this Fire Pit?


Privacy hedges create an intimate front yard in this home located at 3514 Country Club Road where June Mays, Landscape Designer, has been gardening since 1982. The first two years were spent eradicating kudzu, vinca, privet, cherry laurel, and wisteria. Garden rooms branch off a central allee. 

Several River Birch on the property have wonderful exfoliating bark.

The brilliant cut leaf Japanese Maple is stunning by the back deck.

A flutist charms the water feature in this shady garden.

A well-placed urn can complement a garden.

Snowball Viburnum in bloom spill onto this rustic, wooden bench.

Raised beds and a Muscadine arbor are a sweet surprise in this secret garden.

A snail sculpture crawls through the Japanese Holly Fern.

A collection of bird houses and privacy hedging makes this fire patio a welcome retreat.

Step stones help guide the paths and elevation changes.

Sweetshrub, a Native Plant, is in bloom and enjoys its shady woodland setting.

Another well-placed urn adds interest to the landscape.

On exiting the property, I noticed these lovely carved ladies supporting the back door beam. Made me  appreciate how small details can make each home special!

June said in March, six trees fell in her back garden, creating an open hillside with lots of sunshine. So, she may have to rethink some of her existing plantings there.

We all know that gardens always change as Mother Nature has her own ideas.  However, with change comes the opportunity to try something new or rework an area!

I hope these three gardens inspire you to venture into your yard - and like always - design help is nearby!

Hilary Ross is a certified landscape designer/horticulturist creating classic and timeless designs for gardens! 

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Monday, December 2, 2013



it does not mean you cannot have structure in your garden.  What is structure?  Most people think of patios, terraces, arbors, etc.  However, I am talking about evergreen plants which provide year-round "structure" in your garden.

This consistent structure helps provide a backdrop against which to showcase more ornamental plants or give that cohesiveness a garden needs to prevent chaos.

This week in Alys Beach, I could not help admire the landscaping as it evoked a simple elegance.  Not fussy, not busy - just clean, concise plantings which complemented the architecture and enhanced the properties.

Let's take a look at some favorites…

Rosemary made a wonderful foundation planting at this house.

A classic urn with a solitary planting.

Several "green" spaces were throughout the property.


Yew formed lush hedges 
between the Palm Trees along the main boulevard.

I love how containers are incorporated into
 the Rosemary hedge here.

Who wouldn't want to relax by this fire pit
bordered by low evergreen hedges?

Another Agave makes a statement
 in this terra cotta planter.

While not evergreen structure,
I had to include these driftwood horses galloping
 through the ornamental grasses!

Palm trees and the amphitheater green
provided a great backdrop for this
statement Christmas tree!

Asiatic jasmine ground cover and
Angelina succulents in hypertufa planters border this patio. 
Evergreen hedges frame and separate the space 
from nearby property owners.

OTHER EVERGREENS included Wax Myrtles and Hollies for large hedges, Confederate Jasmine for climbing vines on doorways and trellis, and a variety of palms as foundation plantings.

Just because you are at the beach does not mean you cannot have a structured evergreen garden to enhance and complement your property!

Mater Natura Designs

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Did your summer annuals finally bite the dust with our recent frosts?  Trying to decide between all the pansy/viola options?  I hope this blog can help you decide which to use!


should be planted in sun to part shade and spaced 12" apart as this pansy will grow 6-8 inches tall and spread 24"!  Great in hanging baskets or containers. A wonderful spiller!

Cool Wave "Frost" is one of my favorites!  
Frosty white centers tinged with pale lavender blue edges.

Cool Wave "White" is classic.  Other favorite colors include yellow and purple.


is a  cross of the two and has a uniform habit and strong colors.  Exceptional overwintering for spring show.  Bloom size is between a viola and pansy.

Deep Orange is great to use and has a very clear "face" with no markings!

At the Garden Gallery - this is the first time I have seen "Purple Face" Panola.  
Another favorite is the citrus mix, which has orange, yellow and white.


has prolific blooms on lush foliage.  Smallest viola at 4-6 high and wide.  Perfect for planting in containers or at the front of a border.

Being an Alabama fan, I do love "Red Blotch" as it is the perfect crimson!

Clear Yellow is that perfect golden color.  Not too lemony and not too mustardy!
Other favorites include Penny White, Penny Denim and Penny Orchid.


has more blooms on a compact plant!  Excellent for overwintering and comes in many colors.  Most of the names are food related - so I leave the garden shop hungry when I buy sorbet violas.  Perfect for planting in containers or at the front of a border as it stays 6-8" high and wide.

Probably one of the more profuse bloomers is "Coconut Duet".

"Blueberry Cream" is tinged lavender blue at the edges and is creamy yellow toward the center.
Other sorbets to try are: Banana Cream and Blue Icy!


has great flower power and is a multiflora pansy. Medium blooms with strong colors this  pansy is 6-8" tall and wide.  Like other pansies can be planted in sun to part shade.

"Yellow Blotch" has yellow edges and deep red/burgundy edges.

"Purple" is a striking bloomer.  "Scarlet" would be another excellent choice.
"Lavender shades" is a mix with varying hues of lavender.


has high impact in landscapes and containers.  Engineered to have large faces and provide blooms for longer days. 8-10" tall and wide, this pansy could be used in the middle of the border.  A recent client used the Matrix pansy in the center of a container surrounded by violas.  Huge impact of color!

"Sangria" is new (to me at least) and I love how it combines reds, purples, deep pinks and oranges!

"True Blue" is a great variety and transitions well to spring due to its soft color.
"Light Blue", "White" and "Purple" also excellent choices.


by selecting some pansies or violas for your garden.  In the southern climate, they overwinter well and will continue to amaze with color through late spring.  Pair with snapdragons or herbs for a beautiful container or border!  Huge impact of color!

Hilary Ross
mother nature garden designs