A Touch of England in Atlanta

For more than two decades, a gardener creates her ultimate formal garden in her backyard.

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

Private Path

A pea gravel path leads from the parterre garden (with Harland dwarf boxwoods and Edgeworthia) to the potting shed.

Photo by: Photo by Angela West

Photo by Angela West

A pea gravel path leads from the parterre garden (with Harland dwarf boxwoods and Edgeworthia) to the potting shed.

Rosie Davidson describes her Atlanta backyard as an “English garden on steroids.”

From the bottom garden with gardenias, hostas and ferns, to the pool and an upper garden with a Parrotia tree to an expansive deck filled with containers, she’s designed a four-level, terraced Eden on the nearly 1-acre property.

“I like the formality,” she says. “Even in winter, wherever you look in the garden, it’s structure. It’s not bare.”  

Like English gardens, the lawn areas are edged and feature perennial and rose beds, and shrubs of various sizes extending down each side. Davidson faced a garden in horrible condition, with an abundance of dirt and ivy when she and her husband, Lindsay, moved from the United Kingdom to Atlanta more than two decades ago.

Now, paths using materials such as brick, stone, pea gravel and mulch connect multiple “garden rooms” with perennials, specialty maples, ferns, camellias and succulents, plus a vegetable and herb garden. Sculptures of bicycles, children, frogs, cats and other animals add a bit of whimsy to the formal grounds. 

Atlanta’s Gardens to Love by Marcia Weber created some of the pathways over the years and assists Davidson once a year with pruning. Atlanta Wildlife Relocators has helped her fend off snakes, which is one thing she despises in a garden. 

“I said to my husband, ‘I do not want to live near a creek, river, or anything else in this country, in this state, because you will get snakes,’” Davidson says.

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