Tour an Old-Fashioned Cottage Garden

An award-winning Atlanta garden shows off the best of the South and offers plenty of shade garden ideas.

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

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

Surrounded by Hydrangeas

Despite Atlanta’s epic 2014 snowstorms, Mary Huntz’s hydrangeas have bounced back with deep hues. The normally pale ‘Blushing Bride’ Hydrangea (on the left) ended up having more fall color than expected, with a ‘Lady in Red’ Hydrangea and Japanese anemone blooming on the right.

Personal Passion

Master gardener Mary Huntz, with Gracie, describes her Atlanta property as a “Southern plant-lover’s garden.” She’s a leader of the Mimosa Garden Club in Atlanta, past president of the Associates of the Atlanta Botanical Garden and her Atlanta neighborhood Morningside Garden Club, and on the advisory board for The Trust for Public Land. Of her own garden Huntz says, “in the old neighborhoods in Atlanta with all the big trees, you have learn to be a shade gardener.”

New Addition

A covered brick porch was added in 2012 to the home, creating more spaces for John and Mary Huntz to enjoy their yard. Rudbeckia matches the blooms on the other side of the garden. She’s also planted camellias, Lady Banks roses, hostas and bronze fennel.

Evergreens Everywhere

This Atlanta garden is filled with old-fashioned plants that gardener Mary Huntz adores, such as the perennial four-o’clock and weigela, along with camellias, hostas and boxwoods. A boxwood in the mossy container is surrounded by strawberry begonia.

Easy Container Plant

Sedums creep over a container. "Sedums are easy to grow in our hot and humid Atlanta summers,” Mary Huntz says.

Pretty Pathway

Natural growth can be gorgeous. A sedum and stone path runs through this Atlanta yard, where Stokes' aster often pops up.

Tiny Treasures

A shell reminds gardener Mary Huntz of her Florida upbringing. The old birdbath now holds a container filled with horsetail, and it’s surrounded by ‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing’ azaleas.

Cobblestone Columns

Stone pillars have a link to Atlanta history. They previously were cobblestones that were torn out when the Georgia Dome was built in Atlanta.

Climbing Vine

People say porcelain vine is invasive, but Mary Huntz can’t bear to pull it out. “Honeybees love it,” she said. Instead, this adaptable Southern gardener tries to keep it from getting too big.

Curb Appeal

Greenery surrounds and covers this Atlanta cottage. Gardener Mary Huntz’s favorite Southern plants – ferns, hydrangeas, camellias (including Camellia sasanqua), azaleas and boxwoods – greet visitors and wrap around the yard. Trees include a crepe myrtle and an eastern redbud that blooms with chartreuse leaves in the spring.

Birdbath from the Past

An old birdbath was already on the property when John and Mary Huntz purchased the home. They tried to move it elsewhere but couldn’t dig out the bottom, so they planted ferns, fatsia and yews around it.

It's Easy Being Green

Frogs are common in gardens, but this one is a bit unusual. The whimsical sculpture, a gift to gardener Mary Huntz, has an unusual blue-green patina, and was made by Beau Smith and purchased from the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Copper Rain Chain

To solve a rainwater issue, Mary Huntz didn’t want to add a gutter down the side of the covered patio. She investigated rain chains and bought this copper one online.

Pet Portrait

Gracie, whose given name is "Southern by the Grace of God," looks toward the white ‘Marie Pavie’ rose on the front walkway of this Atlanta home.

Busy Workspace

A potting bench overflows with containers. A landscape company, The Garden Path, handles the mowing and blowing in this Atlanta yard. Master gardener Mary Huntz adds: “I do the nipping and the tucking, the fun part.”

Side Path

A mossy stone walkway around one side of this Atlanta home is filled with hostas and floral treasures, including rudbeckia and edgeworthia. The holly was already planted when John and Mary Huntz bought the home in 1984. “Now it shades this side of the house, and boy does it make berries for the holidays,” she says.

Watching Over the Garden

A stone statue of St. Francis is nestled amid aborvitaes, hydrangeas and boxwoods.

Daisylike Rudbeckia

Tall sunny blooms of rudbeckia fills a corner of this mostly shade garden in Atlanta.

At the Gate

A Camellia japonica ‘White Empress’ arches over the gate and stepping stones, which continue to the brick patio. Mary Huntz calls the honeysuckle on the left of the white gate her “Cousin It” plant.

Entry Redo

This 1933 Georgian cottage originally only had concrete steps and a small railing. The homeowners reworked the front entrance with brick steps and an arched entryway that is covered with Boston ivy. The containers hold boxwoods.

‘Governor Mouton’ Camellia japonica

The garden makes a full circle around the Georgian-style brick cottage, with an award-winning ‘Governor Mouton’ Camellia japonica and Washington hawthorn (in the upper right). Hostas are blooming in the area, along with leatherleaf mahonia.

Hydrangea Surprise

Some of the hydrangeas, including this ‘Endless Summer’ variety, deepened their fall colors following the devastating 2014 Atlanta snowstorms.

Magnolia 'Ann'

On the right, the deciduous Magnolia 'Ann' blooms so purple that passersby sometimes will stop and ask homeowner Mary Huntz the name of the plant. In between the magnolia and crepe myrtle is what she calls her “last jungle,” with hydrangeas, Lamium, Ficus and ferns.

Colorful Foilage

Caladiums flourish in white containers around a bench, bordered by fatsia.

Abundant Garden

The shady Atlanta garden is filled with evergreens and woody shrubs, and a mix of camellias, hydrangeas, gardenias, azaleas, hellebore and ferns.

Organic Path

A pathway that connects the paisley-shaped garden to the rest of the garden just evolved, said Mary Huntz, who then added the stepping stones. Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’ join ‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangeas, ‘Blushing Bride’ Hydrangea and ‘Lady in Red’ Hydrangea, and a Hamamelis tall shrub along the path. To the left of the birdbath, a Japanese anemone blooms.

Award Winner

The prize-winning side of the garden has the ‘Governor Mouton’ Camellia japonica, which has won the Camilla Trophy at the annual Southeastern Flower Show and blooms each spring. Huntz planted the Washington hawthorn tree. “I didn’t want a tree that was quite as dense as the maple. So the hawthorn has really pretty white flowers in the spring, and then she has beautiful red berries in the fall that the birds love.”

Friendly Gesture

Throughout the year, this shady garden delivers hues of pinks, purples, whites and blues, including the blooming Japanese anemone, which a friend shared with Mary Huntz. “It’s just kind of taken over this year,” she said. “And you just have to be prepared to kind of let it go.”

Lovely Setting

The shape of one section of an Atlanta garden evolved into a paisley pattern, which is one of her favorite prints. After her boxwoods died in 2013, Mary Huntz took the same variety that were in pots elsewhere and put them in their new home, to the right of the statue. They blended right in, she says.