How to Create Timeless Garden Design

Birmingham-based landscape architect and designer Troy Rhone shows you how to create gardens with a timeless, traditional feel.

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy of Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy of Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Photo By: Courtesy Troy Rhone Garden Design

Courtyard Fountain and Urns

Garden designer Troy Rhone used gold pots to give this courtyard garden a rich, timeless feel. They're planted with dwarf Vitex; pencil hollies grow on each side of the fountain. "The pots are sitting on gravel for an almost Moroccan or old-world Persian feel," Rhone says. The manufactured stones in this courtyard, Castle Rock Pavers, resemble travertine limestone. River rocks set in mortar are visible in the foreground.Troy Rhone is a member of ADAC Design Studios, an Atlanta-based group of designers, architects and high-end, custom home builders. ADAC allows clients to collaborate with designers and explore, see and touch products. Troy Rhone is its sole landscape architect/garden designer.

Outdoor Fireplace

When an Alabama client wanted to enjoy his garden in the wintertime, Rhone built a stone fireplace off his patio. The home, Rhone says, has a rustic feel and is "sort of an island surrounded by formal-style homes. It's completely blocked off, so nobody knows it's there." Creeping fig covers the fireplace and survives even when it's lit, thanks to the cooling properties of the stones. "In summer, the fireplace is filled with pots of begonias." Boston ferns are tucked behind them; Southern wood ferns stand on either of the fireplace.

Door to the Garden

Rhone selected a green door for this Birmingham guest house, which leads into a garden. The steps are lined with Southern wood ferns, while a combination of vines, including evergreen smilax and Virginia creeper, mingle overhead. English ivy weaves between the treads of the steps.

Colorful Focal Point

Located in the center of this front yard, a flower bed makes a bright splash of color against a painted brick home. "Aborvitaes in the back hide a guest parking area, so you don't see it from the street," Rhone says. He designed a mix of annuals and perennials that includes blue salvia, pink vincas, red pentas, and purple angelonias; a container holds a spreading yew. "We wanted a border in front with lots of soft colors because the house is white."

Ram's Head Fountain

Rhone built this fountain and wall around a lead ram's head that his client found. "We created this as a focal point off the back porch. There's a rectangular, formal lawn that goes right up to the fountain. I felt that we needed a masonry wall, rather than just plant material, to make the couryard feel closed in." Creeping fig is starting to climb up the wall, while a bed of pink zinnias are blooming in front of it.

Front Door Topiary

Here, a cast stone planter filled with junipers and purple-blue calibrachoas sits beside the entrance to a home, helping bring it into scale. The design, Rhone explains, "goes to a Persian influence, like you'd see in New Orleans. The front door isn't really the front door; it leads into a central courtyard. This house sits on the street, and the gate takes you into a courtyard before you get to the door."

Garden Putto

In this formal garden, putti, which are figurines that depict cherub-like boys, sit in each of four boxwood parterres. (Putti are not actually cherubs, although they're often confused with them.) The statue and its pedestal are made of hand-carved, French limestone, surrounded by Lenten roses. "In the spring," designer Troy Rhone says, "the garden is filed with daffodils in bloom."

Parterre Garden

Another putto (the singular for putti) peeks from behind a European urn planted with succulents. The owner, Rhone explains, had a total of four musician-putti, one for each of the parterres in her formal garden. "The urn didn't have irrigation at the time it was put in the garden," Rhone adds, "so we used plants that could survive."

Pedestal Fountain

For this courtyard garden in Alys Beach, Florida, Rhone created a modern look, per the owner's request. The top of the block fountain is covered in glass tiles; a copper pipe spills recirculating water down the sides. The small bird on the fountain is made of brass. Dwarf bamboo flourishes behind the fountain, but it's contained, so it can't spread aggressively.

Canopy for a Courtyard Garden

Rhone added a Japanese maple to this Alys Beach, Alabama, courtyard garden, to filter the sun. It was placed in a raised planter to help boost it overhead. Although the living canopy will take years to mature, Rhone says it will eventually reach 30 feet tall and wide. The courtyard was made from a combination of cut coral stone and ready-to-lay rock. Umbrella palms peek out of a container in the foreground.

Coral Stone Courtyard Garden

For this Alys Beach, Alabama home, Rhone used cut coral stone in the courtyard garden. Emerald-green dichondra between them helps soften the look. Trumpet honeysuckle was eventually planted on wires connected to the pergola, to help filter the intense sunlight. Yucca plants add a touch of green to the white wall behind the lap pool. Later, the owners added patio furniture to the space.

Small Space Garden Design

This home had very little space for any kind of gardening, Troy Rhone recalls, "So it felt important to use every inch we had." Pots of boxwoods were used to lead to the front door, and a table was added to the bluestone patio. "We used Pennsylvania bluestone because this home is in the South, and it helps keep the bricks cooler. We'll change out the pots with the seasons to create an outdoor garden in the courtyard." Mondo grass was planted in front of the boxwoods to provide a dark green, low-maintenance backdrop that wouldn't compete visually with the plants.

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