Seasons of Change
The garden at a Myers Park home is constantly evolving
HALEY POOLE is not afraid of change. When she likes a plant, she grows it; if it doesn’t thrive, she pulls it; when inspiration strikes, she rearranges flowers and furniture.
“The garden is always changing,” she says.
While Poole is comfortable experimenting now, she admits that she initially felt overwhelmed with the idea of turning the yard of her Myers Park home from a run-of-the-mill grass and gardens layout into a well-designed space.
“I love to garden, but I had no idea where to begin,” she recalls.
Poole and her husband, Scott, purchased the Colonial home in 2002. The backyard included an expanse of lawn, lackluster flower beds, and a detached garage that was about to fall down. To dress up the space, the couple installed a handful of plants, including viburnum, camellias, and magnolias, around the perimeter of the yard to create a pretty privacy screen. After that, Poole was stuck.
“[In 2012], we had contractors here building a new garage with a guest suite, and it was such a mess with all of the construction that we thought it was the perfect time to redo the gardens,” Poole says.
She called her friend Laurie Durden, garden designer for the Duke Mansion, for help with her own garden’s design. Together, they came up with a plan to turn the yard into four distinct outdoor rooms.
A covered porch off the family room is an expansion of the original concrete patio. Poole wanted a space where her family, including three children—ages 13, 11, and 8— could eat dinner together, watch football on the outdoor television, or relax with a book and listen to the neighbor’s chickens clucking.
The goal was to make the space feel like an extension of the house. To achieve this, Poole incorporated furniture and accessories that would be at home indoors, including an iron-and-glass coffee table and a console table topped with ceramic vases.
“We use it as a second den,” she says.
To soften the space, horizontal shiplap was installed over the brick and painted white; bluestone tiles cover the floor. A fireplace, complete with pizza oven, serves as a focal point.
A teak sofa and armchairs and two wicker chairs with colorful cushions ensure there is enough space for the family and their guests.
“It was designed so you can still see the garden, even though the porch is tucked away at the side of the house,” says Poole.
The porch overlooks a French kitchen garden, called a potager, where Poole grows basil, chives, and thyme. This spring, Poole decided to mix up the plantings in the potager, planting hydrangeas and lamb’s ears alongside the herbs to add color and seasonal interest.
For added visual appeal, the garden is in the shape of a cross, its brick borders outlining gravel paths that lead to garden beds. On one arm of the cross, a stunning concrete fountain gurgles.
“Scott and I had dinner at a restaurant with a fountain, and we loved it,” she explains. “It’s so soothing to come out here and listen to the water.”
From another arm of the cross, brick steps lead to a circular bluestone patio with a dining table. Poole often sets up the table on the covered porch, because the sun beats down on the patio at suppertime, making it too hot to eat outside. As the garden evolves, Poole will decide how she wants to use the space.
Top: Poole added campanula and other plantings in the potager, traditionally reserved for herbs, to provide color and seasonal interest.
Bottom: Scott Poole has perfected the cooking time of pizza in their outdoor oven, which is built into the brick wall alongside the fireplace. Once finished, the pizza will go right on the table.
A fig vine and climbing hydrangeas were planted alongside the garage to grow up the brick. Eventually, the plants will cover the entire garage wall. A wooden bench, now located beneath a tree at the far end of the backyard, used to sit in the space; Poole moved it to make room for two vintage metal chairs with thick cushions.
“It’s my favorite place to sit and drink my tea,” she says.
A Japanese maple tree from the original landscape was moved from its spot beside the house to one nestled between two flower beds across from the garage-side seating area, where it serves as a focal point.
A trellis fence that separates the house from its neighbor is one of Poole’s favorite features of the landscape design. The spot was too small for a traditional hedge, and the couple felt that a fence would be “too unfriendly.” The lattice, covered in fast-growing Carolina jasmine, was a fitting compromise, providing both visual interest and privacy.
“I think it’s kind of brilliant,” says Poole.
In the rear portion of the yard, a vast expanse of grass dominates the space.
“When we started this process, Scott said, ‘I don’t want it to be all garden with no space for us to go out and play football or baseball,’” Poole recalls.
The lawn is the easiest spot in the yard to maintain. Although keeping up with the gardens requires more work, Poole enjoys it.
A landscaping crew manages bigger projects, such as pruning and lawn care, while Poole handles daily tasks such as deadheading roses and pulling weeds. Even as she moves plants, rearranges furniture, and expands garden beds, there is one thing that remains the same: Poole loves the space as much today as she did when it was first completed three years ago.
“It’s a very manageable garden,” she says. “I love coming out here and spending time sitting in the different areas or puttering in the garden. It’s a special place.”