Tour a European-Style Garden in the South

A transplanted Scottish gardener transforms a large lot into a multi-layered sanctuary.

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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 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

Private Path

A pea gravel path leads from the parterre garden (with Harland dwarf boxwoods and Edgeworthia) to the potting shed in this Atlanta garden. Along the way, there is confederate jasmine, Ligustrum (or Japanese privet), leucothoe shrubs, variegated Solomon’s seal and osmanthus fragrans, also known as tea olive. “I didn’t want the garden to look the same everywhere,” gardener Rosie Davidson says.

Touch of Home

The Davidsons, who are Scottish, fly their homeland’s flag in front of their traditional brick Atlanta home, built in 1965. Skinny conifers and an airy maple add dimension to the entryway, which has beds with lavender and irises. The birdhouse, purchased at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, has been a home for bluebirds.

Green Acre

Gardener Rosie Davidson doesn't waste houseplants, such as hydrangeas, but replants them in her expansive Atlanta yard. Along the stone walkway leading to the pergola and lower garden, she enjoys seeing queen of the prairie and Virginia sweetspire.

Master Gardener

Homeowner Rosie Davidson can laugh about it now, but she remembers digging hundreds of crocuses out of her backyard during the late 1980s. “This is the biggest garden I ever had and the most challenging because I came in not understanding how to garden in Georgia,” says Davidson, who moved to Georgia after working for Harrods department store and British retailer Marks & Spencer. The potting shed behind her, with a recycled door and window, was among the items she added to the garden.

Secluded Driveway

Slow-growing Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’, a Japanese holly, has formed two arches along a driveway wall for about 10 years. The English ivy, or Hedera helix ‘Sweetheart’, was a houseplant that a friend gave Rosie Davidson several years ago. The roses are Icy Drift and Rosa ‘Meipicdevoj’.  A commonly used groundcover, Vinca minor, is below.

Pool with a View

The pool, which was built in 1966 and redone by Lindsay and Rosie Davidson in the early 2000s, is shielded from neighbors and even from other levels of the terraced garden. Rosie has planted a variety of grasses, plus Carolina yellow jasmine, camellias, azaleas and boxwoods, and she plans to soon cut the hedge down to 5 feet.

Inviting Exit

A stone wall wraps around the pool, opening to a back exit and walkway with a series of striking, large planters bearing Camellia sasanqua ‘Cleopatra’ and Carolina yellow jasmine.

On the Prowl

A cat sculpture is poised to pounce from the stone ledge away from the ‘Formosa’ azaleas and the Azalea x ‘Conlea’ rouge (Encore series).

Sit a Spell

A rocker originally was white when Rosie Davidson purchased it 20 years ago at Home Depot. She paints it every couple of years. The bench is now bright blue and in a secluded area of the garden for reflection. ‘Formosa’ azaleas are behind the rocker.

Georgia Peach

Rosie Davidson’s favorite rose in her Atlanta garden is a peach-hued rose from Texas that “just blooms and blooms.”

Pots of Color

Some of the garden’s largest containers hold succulents, creeping Jenny, a yucca and a conifer that Rosie Davidson has had for about 12 years. One planter mixes annuals such as angelonia, salvia and the purple Strobilanthes dyerianus, or Persian shield.

Mixed Greens

Terra cotta and the occasional blue and green pots overflow with succulents and sedums on Rosie Davidson’s back deck. The sedums will last for several years, and the majority of these are at least 3 years old, she said. She takes the succulents indoors in the winter.

Dwarf House

Plants including a Japanese Pieris, Clematis ‘Henryi’ and foxgloves surround an Irish fairy cottage made of hypertufa (composed of sand, cement and peat moss). The house was purchased from Fine Garden Products in Atlanta.

Lower Garden

In the small, contained lower garden, Rosie Davidson uses some of her favorite shade-loving plants. She’s selected a variety of hostas, Asarum (or wild ginger), ferns (ostrich, royal, Japanese painted lady, ‘Ghost’ and autumn), and a ‘WB Cole’ gardenia and ‘August Beauty’ gardenia.

Wandering through the Garden

Another pathway in the spacious Atlanta garden, this one uses brick and wood for the stairs, and has ‘Gumpo’ azaleas on the right that bloom white and pink. “They’re supposed to be really small, but everything grows big here,” says gardener Rosie Davidson. On the left is a Viburnum davidii, pittosporum and an oakleaf hydrangea.

Grass Steps

The front steps are paved with Zoysia grass, which is a unique feature in this Atlanta yard. After so many guests walked across the front yard instead of using the side walkway, homeowner Rosie Davidson created the turfgrass-covered stairs.

Lush and Private

A stone walkway through the nearly 1-acre garden is flanked by a hedge of American boxwood that started from 3-inch cuttings and ‘Formosa’ azaleas. The secluded garden backs up to other yards. “Brits, we like our privacy,” gardener Rosie Davidson says.

Formal Touches

Edgeworthia bursts out of a planting bed in the parterre garden. The boxwoods, called Buxus harlandii, fare much better than other boxwoods in the Atlanta garden, says homeowner Rosie Davidson.

Falling Petals

Petals of Acanthus mollis, a perennial also known as bear’s breeches, drop onto a statue that gardener Rosie Davidson purchased at a school auction years ago.

Mossy Millstone

Rosie Davidson wanted a millstone for years. She finally found one at a junkyard in north Georgia for $25. It leans against the bark of a three-leafed maple tree in the bottom garden, which also has ferns, hostas, gardenias and evergreens.

Edible and Interesting

A brick walkway intersects the herb and vegetable garden, which formerly was the location of a playset for Rosie Davidson’s son and daughter, now in their 20s. She grows tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, onion, squash and herbs, including basil and comfrey, a medicinal herb that is abundant in England.

Place for Perennials

Various spots of shade and sun determine the placement of perennial beds in the terraced Atlanta garden. “I have a lot of perennial beds. I don’t use many annuals,” gardener Rosie Davidson says. “I like value for money.” Here, she has ‘Gumpo’ azaleas, irises, camellias, English roses and dogwoods that bloom with blues, whites, and light and dark pinks.

Along a Brick Path

A variety of camellias fill out the garden, including a Camellia sinensis (left), a tea plant. From the Camellia sasanqua (right), which blooms pink, herbs include cardamom, rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue’ and lemon grass.

Miniature Fairy Garden

Moss takes over an old birdbath, which gardener Rosie Davidson turned into a fairy garden long before they became popular. She created a mound for the dwarfs and miniature toad, mushroom and other items.