A regulation-size tennis court (with lights!) and a bamboo hedge didn’t quite fit into Jody Bowers’ vision of an English garden for her Swiss Avenue home. Fire destroyed most of the original 1914 structure, and the home was rebuilt in 1924.
As part of a yearlong garden renovation, the tennis court and bamboo were removed. Designer Patrick Butterworth worked with the Bowers’ architect and contractor to replace them with a summerhouse and conservatory in the architectural style of the English/Norman French residence. The new formal garden mixes perennial beds and boxwood hedges filled with ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and ‘Grandma’s Yellow’ roses.
Jody then tackled the compacted soil that had been underneath the tennis court. “It was like asphalt. Totally dead,” she says. Dozens of bags of composted leaves and loads of topsoil were hand dug into the area to revitalize the soil.
She has been careful to relocate or reuse plant material when planning her garden. The boxwood in the parterre hedge was recycled from another garden. The scraggly plants had a good root structure and with some pampering are now thick and green. Two large Arizona Cypress were saved in large pots during the garden construction and are replanted in the back corners of the property. “I love the challenge of trying to find things a new home when they outgrow their old home!”
In the summer, you’ll find Jody working in her vegetable beds filled with tomatoes, peppers and okra. She enjoys planting heirloom Brown Crowder Peas and Pencil Cob Corn, a field corn variety traditionally ground for “hoecakes.” Jody was given seeds for the peas and corn, as well as butter beans and miniature gourds, by the gardener at the Blackberry Farm hotel in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains.
In the warmer months, Jody enjoys cutting fresh flowers, herbs and greenery for arrangements. “Whether it’s zinnias or bee balm or bridal wreath or just a magnolia bloom, I love that I can walk outside and find something for a vase.” In cold weather, Jody fills the conservatory with tender perennials and starts cuttings and seeds under grow lights. “It’s my happy place outside in the winter months.”
She and husband Bill look forward to crisp evenings and a crackling fire in the summerhouse. “No matter the season, I know what lies beneath the soil, and it gives me great joy to just sit and ponder what will be returning and blooming the next season that rolls around.”
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