On a ridge high above the Tennessee River, designer and author Ryan Gainey creates a four-season garden inspired by the world's greatest outdoor rooms.
The Big Idea: The sloping side yard was leveled to create a semicircular garden based on a design by landscape architect Beatrix Farrand
at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. She was one of the first to implement the design concept of the outdoor garden room.
The Plants: A double row of Korean boxwoods rings the center fountain. A corridor of clipped ironwood trees (Carpinus caroliniana) and American boxwoods creates the outer wall of this semicircular garden. 'Ryan's Yellow' mums tumble over the stone retaining wall along the pergola.
The Details: The baptismal font fountain is on axis with the pool house doors and is visible through the pergola.
The Big Idea: Nonstop color from summer through fall defines the border planted on the south side of the pergola. Painterly sweeps of color
inspired by English garden designer Gertrude Jekyll's techniques signify each season.
The Plants: 'Ryan's Yellow' mums run the entire length of the pergola, periodically punctuated by 'Rachel Jackson' asters. Both perennials were discovered and named by Ryan. The climbing aster at the far end adds color up high.
The Big Idea: Details make the difference. Staying true to the Arts and Crafts movement, Ryan and Marc used local materials and craftspeople
whenever possible. The Crab Orchard stone came from Crossville, Tennessee, and the light fixtures were designed by Marc and
made by blacksmith Bubba Williams of Decatur, Tennessee.
The Plants: 'Limelight' and oakleaf hydrangeas flank the base of the stucco retaining wall. The border of 'Ryan's Yellow' mums and 'Rachel Jackson' asters also includes goldenrod, Joe-Pye weed, and Japanese anemone.
The Big Idea: The pool house lawn yearned for enclosure. Ryan suggested building a pergola inspired by one he had seen at Hestercombe in
Somerset, England. That structure was a brilliant collaboration between its creators, architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and garden
designer Gertrude Jekyll. Likewise, Marc and Ryan conceptualized together to create a plan and took advantage of their individual
strengths to hone the design.
The Plants: A delightful tangle of flowering vines turns the area beneath the pergola into an intimate room. The season begins with clematis, followed by American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), 'Rêve d'Or' and 'Cécile Brunner' roses, and then climbing aster (Aster carolinianus).
The Big Idea: It's hard to improve upon this vista, but when God gives you art, you frame it. Not wanting to compete with the view of the Smoky Mountains in the distance and the Tennessee River below, Ryan created a simple stone terrace with a capped sitting-height wall to provide ample space for guests. The stacked-stone urn fountain is designed on the ideal scale. It adds the relaxing sound of trickling water without disrupting the view.
The Big Idea: Give serious consideration to where you build significant structures. The placement of the pool house is what set the rest
of this garden in motion. Modeled after a stable, it sits adjacent to the pavilion. Together, they created the original two
sides of the first garden room. The pergola then completed the enclosure.
The Plants: Paired American boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens) flank the formal lawn. At each end, pyramidal 'Emily Bruner' hollies (Ilex 'Emily Bruner') are centered within a hedge of variegated boxwoods (B. sempervirens 'Elegantissima'). Three chaste trees (Vitex agnus-castus) anchor the sides of the pavilion.
The Details: The pavilion gains importance by being raised three steps above grade. Low, wide stone steps run its entire width.