Oak Hill GC, Nashville, Tennessee
Image by National Garden Clubs
Oak Hill Garden Club in Nashville, Tennessee
Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc.,
I’m a city dweller. My home is located in a gated community with houses of many different styles, and open planted common areas stretching out under a canopy of huge mature trees. This is the view out the windows at the front of my home but, the view into the garden at the back of my home is the canvas on which the most enjoyable experiences of each day are painted. Sipping my morning coffee while watching the sun peek over the garden wall and lightly kiss each bloom, intensifying its color and illuminating it from within. Watching the wildlife, yes I said wildlife, even in the bustling city, if you plant it they will come; birds of every species, foxes, wild turkeys, squirrels, and chipmunks, all clamber over the wall from the wooded area beyond, providing a bucolic element to my small space. The garden is ever changing; each season offers a new vignette, with a different color palette, and new set of sounds, to tantalize the senses. Summer days filled with the constant drone of bees busily foraging amongst the herbs and flower heads; owls calling to their mates on crisp fall nights; the silence of the snow covered winter garden, punctuated only by the honking chatter of migrating Canadian geese.
My garden started out as two small, square patches of grass. One measuring 1,089 sq. ft. was located directly behind the house, and another measuring 468 sq. ft. located behind the garage. The space was small, but had a southern sun exposure. Having long admired the walled city gardens of Charleston, and Savannah, I set out to design a little jewel box of my own. I wanted to create a focal point, that would catch the eye from inside, and draw you out into the garden. As you enter my home, a natural sight line extends from my front door, down the hallway, through the glass French doors at the back of the house, across the grassy square patch of lawn, to the brick wall at the farthest point on the property. I placed a fountain in front of the wall. I then placed an arbor supporting the old rose Zephirine Drouhin, in front of the fountain. This created a view within a view. The grassy spaces were divided with brick pathways and limestone stepping stones, fooling the eye into thinking the space was bigger. The brain thinks four is more than one, even though the measurement is the same. Focal points were placed at the end of each path as an incentive to go forward and investigate, thus pulling you along to the next area. I bought an antique wrought iron gate with matching sections of fencing, and used them to separate the main, and garage areas of the garden. Open the gate and step into what has become my kitchen garden. A circular bed with a sun dial mounted on a pedestal at its center, is filled with a wide variety of herbs. A pathway of limestone slabs encircles the center bed, and areas extending to the wall are planted with peppers, rosemary, mints and several varieties of tomatoes grown up trellises. The wrought iron fencing also allows a small oddly located area to be transformed into a secret nook with an old iron bench on which to sit and view the garden from a new perspective. Ivy covered walls, boxwoods in urns, mossy stones, and beds filled with perennials, native plants, and annuals for constant color, lend themselves perfectly to the air of relaxed formality that defines my small, urban, walled garden. I’ve learned that size doesn’t matter. With a few good design tricks, you can have it all.
Oak Hill GC, Nashville, Tennessee