A Country Italian Garden

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When interior designer Suzé Surdyk Jones and Patrick Nicholas married five years ago, Suze already had a country Italian-style house and garden. Since Patrick is an ardent rosarian, as rose-lovers are called, she knew that the garden was in for a bit of tweaking. Patrick brought boundless enthusiasm to Suzé’s garden space. He and landscape architect Sam D’Angelo of D’Angelo Associates paced the two-and-a-half-acre site as they developed new garden features, all with the country Italian theme Suzé had established. Many of the poolside garden’s “building block” were already in place. The solarium overlooks plantings on three sides. Near it, a tall, 40-year-old dogwood lends height and shade. A guesthouse with a canopy of wisteria above the front porch stands on one side of the pool. Weathered brown Tennessee orchard stone gives the area a natural look. The stucco house is located on busy Paper Mill Road in Cobb County. To muffle traffic sounds, Suzé, Patrick and Sam built a stucco wall adjoining the house. This sheltering wall, and those of the house and solarium, give the couple an outdoor living room. “And a space that calms the soul,” D’Angelo adds. Suzé’s architectural elements expand the country Italian theme. She found a simple fountain with shell bowls for the new wall and elevated the fountain, concealing the base with boxwoods. Previous finds include an impish satyr table. An old pump was converted into a fountain, teamed with an octagonal basin, near the garage. Suzé also purchased an expressive female sculpture. “These accents have a simple look, nothing ornate,” Suzé comments, “but you have to work hard to find these things in Atlanta.” Suzé’s woman figure stands among Patrickís prized David Austin English roses at the garden entrance. (Patrick is a native of Pasadena, a great place to grow roses.) These stunning blossoms are marked by tight petals and darker centers. In May, some 5,000 blooms offer a heady array of colors and fragrances. In contrast to the rose garden’s formality, hydrangeas contribute a loose, casual look that suits the house. Mophead hydrangeas – Hydrangea macrophylla – ‘Blue Wave,’ H.m. ‘Nikko blue,’ and H.m. ‘Blue Danube’ – reign supreme. “They’re a vibrant blue in May and June,” Suzé says. “When it’s really hot, they turn almost green, and in the fall they turn a pinky purple.” In addition, Hydrangea arborescence ‘Annabelle,’ H.m. ‘Endless Summer,’ Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva,’ lace-caps, and Hydrangea anomala petiolaris contribute variety and color. Suzé believes in masses of flowers. “It takes seven to 10 hydrangea bushes together to make a statement from 20 or 40 feet away,” she explains, “and repeating the same flowers and colors gives a garden continuity.” Almost every month, some garden gem claims the stage. Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ is succeeded by Camellia japonica ‘Debutante,’ ‘Nuccio Pearl,’ and ‘Nuccioís Gem’; then azaleas. Next come roses, peonies and hydrangeas. Impatiens are planted each year, and garden designer John Diaz has charge of the pots. Many of these flowers, with blues and corals predominating, continue through summer and fall. During warm weather, windows and French doors open to the quiet splashings of the fountains and seductive aromas from tea olives and Meyer lemon trees. “Mornings are best,” Patrick says, “when I can listen to Turandot over the speakers while I’m tending my roses.” Suzé likes late afternoons for pottering. Zeke, their Rhodesian ridgeback, claims sunny spots for snoozing whenever he finds them. Suzé Surdyk Jones considers herself lucky to have all this floral bounty. “It’s really Patrick’s garden,” she says. “I reap the benefits, but I can’t take any credit.”

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Design Details

DESIGNER Suzé Surdyk Jones, Suzé Surdyk Jones Interiors, Marietta, (770) 953-2513 LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE Sam D’Angelo The Buckhead Gardener/D’Angelo Association Atlanta, (404) 350-8601