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Project Spotlight: Embellishing the ‘Bones’

Written by Gloria Ballard

May 3, 2022

When a landscape has good “bones” — the word designers sometimes use to describe the design of the hardscape and established trees and shrubs – the homeowner can enjoy the scenery with its variety of perennial and annual embellishments as it evolves and changes throughout the seasons. The Gardens of Babylon landscape design crew has worked within the design of the structure of this landscape in Belle Meade for more than a decade. We talked with designer Chloe Barrett about the details of this ongoing landscape project:  

What do the homeowners want?

The landscape’s “architecture” was already in place when the Gardens of Babylon team came on the scene more than a decade ago. Each spring and fall, they freshen and update the plantings with the installation of new plant materials. “We’ve added to it over the years,” Barrett says. “For annuals, we usually do something similar but change the color, type or pattern.”

The established evergreen architecture is fairly static, Barrett says, but changing out the annuals and other plants to provide blooms from January to November has provided seasonal interest and color in unexpected ways. “Adding more blooms to the established evergreen architecture has been a joyful transformation over the past decade.”

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What was the biggest challenge?

This is a large property – almost 12 acres, most of it wooded. “Such a large and traditional landscape provides a plethora of plant material all with different technical skills required, which is both a challenge and a pleasure,” Barrett says. 

“We’ve added nepeta (catmint), camellias, encore azaleas, wisteria, boxwoods, arborvitae — including a gorgeous spiral one,” Barrett says. “We love using coleus by the pool, we use shade-tolerant flowers for the pool entrance beds, and usually try to stick to plants that won’t be deer treats.” 

Keeping the deer away from the annuals is always a challenge, she says. “But we use an organic deer repellent that seems to work wonders!”  

Otherwise, finding variety in the plantings each season can be a happy challenge. “It’s always a pleasure to come up with a different and dynamic annual plan for their spring and fall flower installation,” the designer says. 

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What do you think is the project’s best feature:

The designer is able to build on the landscape’s “bones” that are already strong. The seasonal task includes embellishing what is already in place. “We inherited a gorgeous landscape with 2-story established boxwoods, old-growth trees, and beautiful hardscaping,” Barrett says. “This is all old landscaping, very classic estate style. The tree canopy has been there for quite some time. There’s a perimeter planting of boxwoods under the trees, with the trees mirroring on each side. The center of the beds is usually a patterned planting of annuals, freshened up in spring and fall.”

A shade garden under a stately oak holds hellebore, lysimachia, aucuba and epimedium. The pool area features elegant, classic landscaping with towering boxwoods, an espalier pear and New Dawn climbing roses. “The pool area has some of the most beautiful old-growth climbing hydrangeas on the pool house, and the fountain surrounded by boxwoods is especially peaceful,” Barrett says. 

The area includes a large, lovely pot that they fill with exciting new annuals every year; after a few weeks, when the plants have filled in, “it’s a symphony of color and texture throughout the hot summer months,” the designer says. “Keeping the landscape in harmony with the surrounding natural beauty is truly a joy.”

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The Gardens of Babylon landscape design team is ready to help with you landscaping needs. Click here to book a phone consultation with a member of the design team.

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