One glimpse of this Charleston, South Carolina, courtyard makes you want to see much more.
The open gate bids you welcome. You know you’re going to go in. Like many gardens in historic Charleston, this one entices
at first glance and then surprises with details. You enter and are not disappointed.
Though the entry courtyard is small―roughly 25 feet from gate to house and 50 feet wide―it feels bigger inside. That’s because landscape architects Clyde Timmons and Steve Dudash of DesignWorks divided the area into a series of discrete spaces defined by walls, paving, and planting beds. Each area invites you to linger and extend your visit.
From the parking area, step through the handsome iron gate onto a terrace made from old, salvaged brick. Notice the exotic,
rich green fronds of a sago palm before you. They seem to be hiding something. Move forward onto the formal bluestone terrace,
and look to your left. Not just one, but a pair of beautiful sago palms flanks a fountain and basin that’s trimmed in the
same salvaged brick. The fountain serves as a focal point and also adds the refreshing sound of splashing water that masks
Your next destination is a small, private sitting area just outside the master bedroom. Though it’s part of the overall garden, it feels distinct thanks to a few simple techniques. First, a change in paving material signals a transition. You move from formal bluestone pavers to casual brick and then back to bluestone again. Second, the elevation changes as you ascend a trio of steps. Finally, partial screening provided by tree-form ligustrums and a low hedge of Japanese boxwoods offers the illusion of a separate outdoor room. Viewed from the sitting area, the courtyard appears lush, serene, and very private.
Because hardscape and evergreens take up most of the space, the inclusion of colorful plants was critical. At the foot of
the boxwoods, Clyde designed a small flowerbed that peeks at you through the gate. In addition, pots of flowers, which are
changed seasonally, concentrate color at strategic points―out by the front gate and up on the sitting area.
As this example demonstrates, some of the nicest gardens don’t reveal themselves all at once. They tempt you with a glance and capture you as you explore.