Shady Oasis

Pulling into the driveway of this Abingdon neighborhood residence, it’s impossible to guess what is hidden just behind the ivy-covered walls. But once past the wall and inside the inviting garden, it’s hard to leave. A flood of green spills over the thresholds, forming a canopy with the trees, while manicured grass and shrubs bring order to the sanctuary.

The home is encircled by numerous courtyard designs and includes lots of windows to integrate the structure into its setting. Leah Quarles of Landscape Workshop, along with the owners, successfully created the tranquil surroundings by working with the already established landscape design by Nimrod Long and Associates. But much of that landscape was wiped out just two years ago.

“You wouldn’t know it by looking, ” Leah says, “but this whole area was torn up by the 2011 tornadoes.” Once the uprooted plants were cleared out, Leah turned the mess back into its original state of beauty, full of hydrangeas and other thoughtfully chosen shrubs.

- Sponsors -

The pool is tucked into a U-shaped courtyard surrounded by brick pavers and dotted with seating areas. A checkerboard-patterned lawn adds a fantastical touch to one end of the pool deck. Every turn within the garden reveals blooming perennials and elegant statuary. Fountains splash against brick walls covered in fig ivy, and an outdoor shower—a warm-weather delight—is strategically hidden behind a wall. Other features include a Koi pond in yet another courtyard and carved niches filled with olive jars.

Instead of fighting against the shade created by the house and large trees, Leah worked with it by adding hostas, shrubs, vines, and grasses that actually enjoy the shade. The result is a lush environment that thrives without much sun—the perfect combination for this outdoor retreat.

“Working in a shaded garden is always challenging because your plant choices are limited. The key is to take your time and have fun exploring new options and textures.”  —Leah Quarles

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!