Tour a Designer's Handcrafted Garden

Susan Hable's garden in Athens, Georgia, provides a space for her to learn, grow and find inspiration for her textile and furniture design.

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Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Angela West

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

Photo By: Photo by Laura James

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.

Screened Porch with Lights and Variegated Porcelain Vine

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.

Exotic Patio Table and Seating

An Indonesian daybed serves as a table on the patio, made with bluestone. Susan Hable has had the wicker furniture for years, recently spray-painted black. A Japanese maple is behind the family-friendly space, which also serves as a spot for their grill and bikes.

Leaves in the Studio

Leaves lie scattered on a table in Hable's studio. Hable says her garden inspires her designs.

Screened Porch, Patio and Cottage

A patio connects the renovated Victorian-style cottage, which has a screened porch, to the guest cottage. Susan Hable and her husband, Peter, selected all the plants and hardscape materials, including brick, for their Athens, Georgia garden.

Garden and Side of Studio

When designer Susan Hable purchased her property in Athens, Ga., in 2006, there was just dirt. Hable, who previously lived in San Francisco and New York, says she learned through trial and error about gardening, and she added her studio to the back of the property.

Front Door of Studio

Designer Susan Hable's studio is a hub of activity for her work and her creativity. Paint samples show her picks for possible new door hues.

Backyard Studio

What now is the studio was going to be burned down by firefighters for arson practice before Susan Hable decided to buy these mill homes and rebuild them together with vaulted ceilings and a metal roof. 

Studio Entryway

The shapes of leaves of plants such as honeysuckle and blue salvia inspire Susan Hable's artwork and textile designs, she says. 

Antique Planter with Cedar on Brick Steps

A planter found at an antique show in Farmington, Connecticut has a new home on the brick walkway to Susan Hable's studio in Athens. A sculptural-looking whipcord Japanese cedar is in the container.

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.

Bird Nest with Egg in English Rose

Susan Hable and her kids, Bird and Lake, have come to expect and watch an egg each year in a tiny robin's nest. The nest is high up on a trellis with English roses in their Athens garden, and they have a ladder nearby to check its progress.

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

Front Porch and Door

Blue stone pavers and brick in an oval shape mimic the shape of the front yard leading to a door painted with Benjamin Moore's Blue Suede Shoes. A tea olive tree is by the steps, and she's also planted azaleas, beautyberry and American boxwood.

Caladiums and Cleome in Front Garden

Caladiums, joined by cleome, circle the front garden. Susan Hable's mother gives her caladiums for Mother's Day, so she has planted them throughout her Athens garden and appreciates the vibrant color they bring to the garden during the summer.

Back Door

A fiddle-leaf fig in a ceramic container gives some shade to the back stoop, where Fanny sits. The chair is an antique, along with the bell, which Susan Hable's kids ring. The Georgia garden also has a variety of ferns. The black back door is painted Farrow & Ball's Railings.

Trees and Birdhouse

One of the first changes to designer Susan Hable's bare Georgia yard was planting a row of 29 trees to serve as a fence and to frame the property. The birdhouse, which was a gift, is for Purple Martins.

Japanese Maple

A Japanese maple fills a nook in the garden of the renovated Victorian cottage in Athens. The home is painted Labrador Blue, by Benjamin Moore.

Climbing Ladder

One of the first things people see when arriving at Susan Hable's Georgia home is a climbing ladder in a tree that her children, Bird and Lake, use when playing outside.

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.

Black Bathroom Door

To keep with the English feel of her garden, artist Susan Hable added WC (short for water closet) to the door of the guest cottage bathroom. The door is seen from the garden.

Enchanted Entry

Stone steps, a picket fence and an arbor covered in the "Peggy Martin" rose create a welcoming path to the backyard.

Rabbit Mat

An outdoor mat in the shape of a rabbit silhouette on the front porch welcomes guests into Hable's home. The mat is by Droog, a Dutch company.

Peace Sign and Hummingbird

A lighted peace sign, from Design Legacy, is among the yard art in the Georgia garden. The stone wall and steps were existing to the Athens, Georgia property.

Sky Lights

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.

Flowers in the Garden

Dahlias were added to the vegetable garden, where broccoli, strawberries and other foods grow for the family.

Pink and Blue Hydrangeas

Hable has various colors of hydrangeas growing in her garden. 

Patio

The patio serves as the central outdoor gathering place, connecting the screened porch and guest cottage with string lights. 

Fox Door Knocker

A fox figurine adds detail to a brightly colored front door. 

Light and Bright

Two textured light fixtures hang in the back room of Hable's studio.