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June 2022

A Place of Serenity

When Katherine McKenzie purchased her home 21 years ago, she felt the manicured landscape did not compliment the European style of the house. Instead, she envisioned “a serene garden where all your troubles melt away.” 

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Landscape designer, Tracy McCullen, reshaped the front of her large corner lot. What you see from the street is Tracy’s work but once you enter the garden it’s the product of many talented hands.” Thanks to the trusted genius of horticulturist Carolyn Thomas, owner of Gardens by Design, the entire property has been transformed over the years, each time with spectacular results.

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A variety of water features have been added to capture the relaxing sound of trickling water, including this hand-carved boulder fountain crafted by the late artist, Doug Campbell.

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Katherine wanted “each area to look like a little room with its own personality.” This tropical courtyard sits under a huge old oak tree surrounded by palms. The patio was created by Drew Thorndyke of Cape Fear Water Gardens and his team by carefully arranging flagstones. Katherine joked “the process looked like doing a jigsaw puzzle without the box top”.

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Many of the stones are etched with organic designs “like a mystical version of a cast iron plant”.

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Katherine likes to add little surprises everywhere. “There’s all kinds of whimsy in this garden.” A winged sprite peeks from lush green foliage next to a sign reading: “Don’t Piss Off the Fairies.”

A classic, Charleston, wrought-iron fountain is surrounded by liriope, fatsia and creeping jenny.

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Nestled next to the house is a triple basalt fountain surrounded by a variety of creek stone and rich greenery. A Japanese lantern will soon finish the vignette.

From her screen porch, Katherine looks out to her favorite feature, honoring her childhood memories of a koi pond. A 2,500-gallon waterfall garden wrapped in flagstone is set against a backdrop of fig ivy and holly fern.

Each boulder was perfectly placed after being hand-picked by Drew through many early-morning visits to Stone Garden. “Drew and his crew are true artisans. The man is a genius and the most fun in the world to work with. He is a geologist by training, and if indeed a rock could speak, he knows the language!”

A beehive is a recent addition. “It’s very exciting. I’ve just discovered I can sit on the love seat and read, just two feet from the hive. We look forward to the honey and the bees don’t bother me or my dog a bit.”

Katherine sits and enjoys the beauty of her surroundings. She marvels at the end result and the journey itself. “Anyone that has ever touched this garden has been wonderful. They feel a love for it like I do, and it shows.”