Two Atlanta designers transform a plain driveway into an inviting cottage garden.
Cottage Garden Gate
For an inviting entrance into a cottage garden, plant a basket with caladiums, angelonias, Madagascar periwinkles, and million bells.
| Credit: Photo: Ralph Lee Anderson

Don't let a setback stand in the way of great design—embrace it. That's what architect Carolyn Llorens and landscape architect Deanna Pope Ozio did when remodeling this Atlanta cottage garden. Carolyn transformed what was a garage into a light-filled side entry, making the driveway a blank space, which Deanna turned into a lush courtyard garden. Starting with a timeless classical plan, the duo seamlessly incorporated old with new while enhancing the home's original cottage charm.

Cottage Garden Courtyard

The Big Idea: The courtyard, which ties the original home to the addition, has an intimate scale. Partially hidden from the street below, it creates intrigue—only the stone wall, gate, and a few plants can be seen. As you approach the front door, the 22½- by 27-foot space comes into view as a garden within the larger landscape.

The Plants: The bluestone path is flanked by mondo grass and white mazus, which weave between the stones as it leads past the courtyard to the front door. Autumn fern and 'Whiteout' roses soften the base of the wall. A 'Rêve d'Or' climbing rose, trained to ramble up the shingle siding, adds romance and cottage charm.

The Details: To blend the stone of the addition with the circa-1940 home's mellowed granite facade, new granite was combined with weathered fieldstone and mortared to mimic aged grout. A little extra mortar and clay were smeared on the new stonework, and a Colonial-inspired wooden gate was added to complete the effect.

The Cottage Garden Path

The Big Idea: This garden utilizes an antique cobblestone walk to create a strong axis from gate to door. Deanna designed beds flanking the walk with layers of plants, which echo the path's central circular shape. To get this look at your home, first lay out shrubs to follow the edge of the hardscape. Next add shrubs along the wall of the home. Fill the area between with perennials on the ends and annual color, such as pentas, in the center. Mirror the composition to create formal balance that looks as pretty coming as it does going.

The Plants: English boxwoods, planted to follow the curve of the walk, and clipped 'Oakland' hollies, which anchor each corner, offer a nod to the traditional forms found in Colonial gardens. Dwarf mondo grass, pentas, and euphorbia add texture and color, updating the feel.

The Details: A drainage system for the garden is hidden beneath the birdbath, which sits atop four stones. Mat-forming creeping Jenny hides the drain. The team used bluestone on thresholds, such as the steps and landings by the door and gate, to make this a truly welcoming entry garden.

Cottage Garden Entry

The Big Idea: Gardenia, one of the South's iconic shrubs, begins perfuming the air this month. Specimens trained into topiary forms are ideal for containers because they take up less space. To try this at home, start by positioning the topiary gardenia in the pot. Add two 4-inch pots of rosemary to the front of the container and two 4-inch pots of 'Dolce Key Lime Pie' heuchera to the back of the container. Feed with Dynamite Organic All-Purpose plant food. Top with sheet moss, and water as needed.

The Plants: Prostrate rosemary spills over the pot's edges and can be used for cooking. To extend the season, 'Madison' Confederate jasmine is tied to the gutters and then strung along copper wire above.

The Details: Square, basket-weave concrete planters fit neatly on the corners of the bluestone landing.