Nature by Design

There are obviously lots of things to consider when building a new home. For Brenda and Howard Chapman, one of the main considerations was creating a warm and relaxed space to welcome family and friends. But another top priority was the location of the garden. Being a master gardener, Brenda made sure the garden was included in the design from the very beginning of the architectural process. “To me, there is nothing like working in the garden; it’s my little sanctuary, so I wanted it to fit in with the house, ” she says. “Placement was critical.”

ABOVE To conserve water, Brenda added a barrel to her garden, which catches water from the gutter and can be used to water the garden. To help it blend in with the rustic look of the house, the barrel was covered in wood and metal.


The Chapmans worked with Chad Bryant of Chad Bryant Architecture to design their home and select the garden’s prime location. Based on sun exposure and topography, front yard space was designated. “A wall of the garage essentially became a backdrop for the garden area, ” says Chad. “It was almost like that wall was the garden’s blank canvas.”

- Sponsors -

With space for the garden firmly in place, the Chapmans focused on the details of creating a comfortable and inviting home. Part of that meant making sure it fit in with its natural surroundings in the Trillium neighborhood, a private community featuring natural areas, wooded landscapes, and amazing views of the Cahaba River. “The setting feels like its in the mountains, ” says Trey Goldstein of Cotton Construction. “So the goal was to make it seem like a rustic cabin in the woods.”

The Chapmans blended the design of the home into the garden with the small details that outline the floral sanctuary. To keep it rustic yet still refined, Chad included natural aspects with lots of texture such as cedar siding, rough cut cedar beams, and fieldstone, as well as a neutral paint color (Benjamin Moore’s Fairview Taupe). He also incorporated exaggerated elements with the porch overhang, steep roofline, and oversized trim to fit the natural setting. “We love the atmosphere of our home and garden and how it blends into its surroundings, ” Brenda says. “It’s so relaxed and inviting, and that’s what we want people to feel when they visit.”


ABOVE LEFT Brenda included a variety of flowering plants in her garden—such as dahlias, hydrangea, coneflowers, angelonia, and black-eyed Susans—so that she could always have blooms to cut and bring inside.

ABOVE RIGHT Black-eyed Susan plants from the sunflower family take center stage in Brenda’s garden

Plant What You Love

Brenda’s best advice is actually words of wisdom she once heard from a fellow gardening enthusiast: Plant what you love. Brenda incorporates flowers into the garden that bloom at various times of the year so that there is always color in the garden. 

Visual Interest

“I wanted to be able to see the garden all the way through—whether I’m coming out of the house or walking up to the porch, ” Brenda says. To achieve that look, she kept the flowers lower near the fence and around the walkways and allowed for taller blooms lining the house. 

ABOVE The flower beds are lined with moss fieldstone, the same stone for the exterior’s stone water table and the front steps. Pea gravel was used to fill in the walkways. To keep deer out of the garden, a fence was crucial. The Chapmans opted for cattle fencing, which is a combination of metal wire and wood to maintain the rustic feel.

Making an Entrance

To walk up to the Chapman’s front door, guests stroll through the zorro zoysia grass, a fine textured grass that’s typically found on golf course fairways. The stepping stones, set in a random pattern, are a flatter cut of the same moss fieldstone used on the home’s exterior.

Going Native

Brenda incorporated plants native to Alabama when possible, such as native azalea, phlox, and oak leaf hydrangea. When including plants not native to the state, she made sure to read the flower tags to know the proper amount of water and sun each plant requires.

ABOVE Mandevilla, which typically blooms spring through fall, is an evergreen shrub that will stay green all winter long.

Architect: Chad Bryant, Chad Bryant Architecture • 205.223.8602 Builder: Trey Goldstein, Cotton Construction Designer: Megan Houston, Megan Houston Interior Design • 205.834.5708 Exterior siding paint color: Benjamin Moore’s Fairview Taupe Exterior trim: Sherwin Williams-Antique White Exterior lighting: Troy Lighting, purchased through Ferguson • 2800 2nd Avenue South. 205.254.3454

Text by Paige townley • Photography by jean allsopp

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!