Tour Designer Susan Hable’s Georgia Garden
Photo by Angela West
One of Susan Hable's favorite parts of her garden is variegated porcelain vine covering the screened porch. Globe string lights connect the screened porch to a guest cottage.
Susan Hable, known for bold colors and hand-drawn patterns in her textile designs, struggled with color when she started transforming her dirt-filled Georgia yard into a garden. She was used to buying beautiful blooms from vendors in New York’s flower district when she lived there. When she would go to a nursery, she would pick plants bursting with color, with no knowledge of how to keep them alive once she planted them.
"I always killed all my houseplants,” she says.
Front Exterior of Victorian-Style Cottage
Designer Susan Hable, author of A Colorful Home: Create Lively Palettes for Every Room (Chronicle Books), and her husband, Peter, purchased the Victorian cottage in Athens, Georgia, in 2006, and spent three years renovating it. The garden was also bare, so she designed an oval-shaped front yard bordered by plants and trees, such as Japanese maples, azaleas, lamb's ear, loropetalum and peonies.
Susan Hable in Her Studio
Susan Hable draws, paints and designs in a studio behind her Athens home with views of her garden. In 2013, she moved two 100-year-old mill homes from Eatonton, a middle Georgia town, and merged them together for her unique and charming workspace. Her ventures include textile and furniture design, and she's also an artist and co-author of A Colorful Home: Create Lively Palettes for Every Room.
Cottage Garden Overview
From her studio, designer Susan Hable can look out onto her yard, which is framed by a guest cottage and her renovated Victorian home in Athens, Georgia. She says she wanted to create a garden with tight borders and groups of loose plants behind it. She has a variety of maples, including the tree by the back of the home.
Side Garden with Arbor
Stone pavers move visitors through the hydrangea and hosta garden to an arbor covered with the "Peggy Martin Rose," which has pink blooms. The famous rose survived more than 20 feet of saltwater in a Louisiana garden after Hurricane Katrina and is now sold by Southeast nurseries.
Hydrangeas and Hostas
Hydrangeas and hostas are thriving in Susan Hable's side garden. For example, one super-sized plant is a giant blue-leaved hosta (bottom right). She often posts photos of her Georgia garden on Instagram.
Brick Steps and Studio Interior
Fig covers steps made of recycled brick (harvested from their driveway) leading into Susan Hable's garden studio. Native honeysuckle hangs over the front entryway over the studio, which has shiplap walls. The Chinese-style lantern is an item that her sister found in a Texas barn.
String lights hanging over the outdoor seating area combined with the variegated porcelain vine crawling on the screened porch exterior gives a whimsical feel to this patio. Hable says these lights are from Target.
She and her husband, Peter, purchased their Victorian cottage in Athens, Ga., in 2006 and spent three years renovating the home. As for the garden, Hable, who had lived in apartments in San Francisco and Manhattan, had no experience with plants.
After they moved into their Athens home in 2009, Hable tried to tackle the yard but found she was not knowledgeable about her soil and which parts of her yard were wet and dry. She had her soil tested and learned from a neighbor to outgrow her garden naivety, without sacrificing color.
Hable began to understand how complicated it was to grow favorite flowers, such as 'Pearly Gates' and English roses, which are now in her garden. She was inspired by Victorian and Nantucket gardens, bringing in design elements such as lattice and arbors and old-fashioned plants, such as pearl-bush.
Her work and book, A Colorful Home: Creating Lively Palettes for Every Room is inspired by her garden and color choices in her renovated cottage. Her studio—built from two former mill houses—is at the other end of the backyard. She often strolls the garden and snaps Instagram photos of plants that inspire her.
“I wanted my yard to be more artistic,” she says. “I knew then, and I still know, that everything that I plant really enriches my day.”