Originally created 08/11/00

Couple makes garden second home



A blanket of lush green grass, burbling fountains and the smell of jasmine sound like heaven, right?

Hamilton and Angie Kuhlke think so. The Kuhlkes, of 3071 Walton Way, enjoy every inch of the formal gardens and landscaping surrounding their home. The house is made of old Savannah gray bricks, which are larger than the typical red bricks and have a more rustic appearance.

Walls separating the back yard into three courtyards are also made of the bricks. The courtyard the Kuhlkes enjoy most is behind the back patio, where they often eat breakfast. The manicured area is viewed easily from the front foyer through floor-to-ceiling windows in the sunlit living room.

"When you come in the house, you feel like you're looking straight into the garden at the same time," said Mr. Kuhlke. "That's so inviting."

The garden is very tranquil, with a lush carpet of dense, slow-growing zoysia grass framed by raised beds of Ajuga, holly and yaupon. The Kuhlkes used existing bricks to trim a new stucco background, which is the perfect backdrop for the koi pond below. Huge ferns placed atop old chimneys accent the garden under a canopy of huge magnolia trees.

The garden, in turn, complements the inside and outside of the home.

"It's a gorgeous view," said Mr. Kuhlke. "You see your yard as part of your house."

The second courtyard is sunken on the other side of the brick fence. The higher fences contain a shaded former scent garden, which the Kuhlkes are trying to revive.

"One of the beauties of it to me is the maturity of the shrubs," said Mr. Kuhlke. The older plants include 35-year-old camellia bushes, a tea olive tree and a dwarf "Little Jim" magnolia. The Kuhlkes have pruned most of the shrubs, including the yaupon, boxwood and holly, back to stumps and let them grow afresh.

They have also added a wrought-iron arbor entwined with jasmine.

"In the spring, you can smell the perfume from the street," said Mr. Kuhlke. "It's magnificent."

The hydrangea bush, impatiens bed and cast iron plants create a divider between the scent garden and the lower patio.

The lower patio is the Kuhlkes' favorite courtyard for entertaining. It has stone flooring, low-level lighting and a statue spouting water between water lilies. "People prefer to be outside rather than inside," Mr. Kuhlke said.

A small balcony from the master bedroom overlooks the patio.

Serpentine-cut boxwood shrubs trim the patio's edges, and large tree-form loquats and old-fashioned ferns guard a grand garden entrance. The loquats bloom white flowers intermittently from autumn through spring.

In contrast to the formal gardens in the back, the Kuhlkes' front yard grows more freely. A butterfly garden complete with buddleia, lilies and yellow jasmine lines one side of the driveway. Large dogwoods are scattered around the yard, along with a few pine trees. Mr. Kuhlke likes the pines, but his wife doesn't enjoy the daily "pine cone pickup."

Most of the yard requires little upkeep. A service helps with the mowing of the slow-growing zoyzia grass, and many plants only require pruning in the spring. "We are working on a low-maintenance yard," said Mr. Kuhlke. "That's our goal."

The Kuhlkes are in the midst of designing one last section of the yard. A gazebo is under construction around a huge live oak. They plan to make the area into a tropical shade garden with the oak as the centerpiece.

Reach Valerie M. Rowell at (706)823-3351 or newsroom@augustachronicle.com.