They Did it Their Way

Through the garden gate

From the street in this west side Richmond neighborhood, you would never know that behind the dense growth of winter jasmine, tall bayberries, plump boxwood and red-tip photinia is a garden gate that opens to a compact, well-designed landscape. Soothing greens with varied textures and shapes entice you to enter through the gate and explore.  I always enjoy an invitation to this charming garden. There’s something magic and restorative about the cool spaces in the dappled light of tall trees.

The couple who lives on this lovely property designed the garden layout themselves and every bed was developed and planted by them. The space has been embellished through the years to become a lush tapestry of foliage punctuated by colorful treasures of flowering trees and perennials. It’s obvious that this garden is their retreat, a place to enjoy the outdoors and fulfill their passion for gardening. It’s great fun to stroll through the grounds with them for he showers her with credit for aspects of the garden and she returns the praise.

The rear of the home opens onto a terrace that flows into a small grassy lawn. Steps away are several garden paths that beckon. Birdbaths, benches, sculpture, bridges and lighted pagodas are focal points along the woodland journey. A clear stream winds through the shade providing interest and a home for many small visitors. Native plants and new cultivar discoveries pepper the landscape.

Following the brick walk along a natural rise, a border of  boxwood, variegated hostas and liriope edging become the nucleus of this garden. A hand crafted martin house beneath a golden rain tree is a reminder of the birding paradise the couple has created.

Exiting through the garden gate, we are not disappointed by what we encounter. A colonial garden house, designed and built by the owner, greets us in this space.  I’ll say no more. A photograph of this structure is worth a thousand words.

The newest feature in the landscape, the Charleston Garden, bids a welcome to enter and rest on one of the benches. High stucco walls, beautifully designed brick walks, statuary, a pool with splashing water and colorful fish, and cool green groundcover, invite you to linger. With a daughter living in Charleston, the couple made numerous visits, falling in love with the courtyard garden designs.

I’m sure readers will agree that the owners have created an Eden…. but I might be a bit biased. On an earlier blog entry, I whisked you away to California to visit my sister’s whimsical garden in San Diego. This time you left your stresses at the gate and toured the garden retreat of my brother and his wife who live in Richmond.

For another view of his garden house, click HERE.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

24 thoughts on “They Did it Their Way

      • I emailed my brother for measurements and here is his reply:
        “Well, it’s small….by design. In my county one doesn’t need a permit to build an 8×12 or less……so, that’s what it is. It has a full 8′ ceiling and a stand-up attic with a pull-down stairway. The roof is a 12/12 pitch.
        I built the whole thing with no plans, except for a photo of a shed across from historic Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg VA. A good thing is that all building materials are sold in 4×8 sizes, like plywood for the sheathing, attic floor, underflooring and roof, and the lumber all comes in 8 and 12 ft lengths.
        The floor is 6″ wide tongue and groove pine, and painted. Of course, I random cut the siding and improvised the shiplap on the ends to random widths and lengths too, and used handmade rosehead nails for authenticity.”


  1. Thank you for the beautiful article and photography on my parent’s house, Ann! It is quite special, isn’t it? Hard to believe how much it has transformed over the years…and they continue add special touches every time I turn around. What’s so great is that it wasn’t planned, built or planted by others…. They have worked hard to come up with the perfect layout, laying the brick paths themselves, building the garden house, the pond, etc. Such talent! It runs in the family. Just another wonderful quality that skipped over me…ha ha!


  2. Bloom, I think it could make the cover of a magazine!

    Paige, They do have the talent, commitment and a love of the great outdoors. You’re just like them. So are your girls…

    Gardening, We certainly don’t have it all but we all love to dig in the dirt.


  3. Annie,
    I have loved seeing Billy and Lizzie’s gardens. I love the cat in the garden with the smile–a portrait of Baby Pookie.
    All of you are so talented.


  4. Pingback: Lavender Blue | Breaking New Ground – Zone 5

  5. Pingback: There he goes again! | Breaking New Ground in Zone 6

  6. I am building a garden shed this spring just like yours. Do you have a plan you used that I could purchase? Or do you know how/where I could get it?
    Thank you


    • Allie, my brother built this garden shed with his own measurements but he never drew up plans. Perhaps if you showed the picture to a contractor or builder they could duplicate it. I wish you the best of luck finding the shed you love.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s