Grumpy’s Gang Triumphs Again! We Are Loved!

June 2, 2012 | By | Comments (11)

Violin2 copyAs you know, faithful readers, ‘Humble” is Grumpy’s middle name. Therefore, he is loathe to toot his own horn, even when he has every right to do so. So when the Garden Writer’s Association (GWA) recently gave Grumpy a Silver Award for his September 2011 story in Southern Living, “Good Bones Make Good Gardens,” he instinctively sought to dodge the limelight.

BUT THEN — GWA also gave Silver Awards to two of Grumpy’s colleagues at Southern Living: Gene Bussell for his story, “A Paperwhite Christmas,” and Rebecca Reed for “Lush Life.” Southern Living had won 3 out of the 6 magazine writing awards! (Eat your heart out, Better Homes.) Thus, Grumpy was compelled to recognize our collective greatness.

I’m going to highlight each winning entry in the next few posts. The first, of course, will be mine. 


(Grumpy enjoys a celebratory glass of champagne while the lilting strains of Antonio Vivaldi caress his auditory canals.) 



Good Bones Makes Good Gardens

What gives a garden year-round appeal? As the three gardens featured here demonstrate, it’s isn’t just plants. It’s bold structures, contained spaces, and focal points. Provide these things and even when trees and shrubs drop their leaves for winter, the garden grips your eye. 

The first garden, shown above, is a beautiful garden room in Birmingham. It didn’t start out that way. Brick walls enclosed it on two sides and the house on another, but the remaining side was open. So garden designer Norman Kent Johnson added a beautiful arbor to act as the final wall.

The other missing item was an outdoor ceiling to give a sense of shelter and seclusion. ‘Natchez’ crepe myrtles now flank the lawen and stand around 30 feet tall. They’re never chopped back. As a result, they create a canopy over the whole garden. 

This garden features just three main plants — crepe myrtles, boxwoods, and lawn. Talk about simple! It has three defining points, all perfectly aligned — the arbor, the fountain, and the gate at the opposite end. To see more more photos of this garden and the following two, click here: Enjoy!

Courtyard in the City

Lawn wasn’t an option for this small garden in the heart of Richmond, Virginia. Shade from a huge Southern magnolia and live oak made that a no-go. So the owners opted for a shady courtyard based on gardens they had seen in Charleston, South Carolina.

Garden designer Carrington Brown confined most of the shade-loving plants to the periphery of the 18- x 19-foot patio. Movable decorative pots add flowers and foliage where needed. Neighbors are close, so plants extend above the walls for extra privacy. Urns and wall plaques acts as focal points, adding great detail to a small space.

To see more photos of this garden, click this link:

A Little Garden on the Side


The owners of this side garden in Montgomery, Alabama weren’t happy with the views into it from their home. They asked garden designer James Farmer to create a hidden retreat where they could relax or entertain.

James designed a rectangular garden bordered by by walls with a circular bluestone terrace at its heart. Stone pavers set on the diagonal and separated by seam of mondo grass create a striking pattern. Boxwoods, camellias, Japanese hollies, and rosemary anchor the side beds. An Italian urn fountain sitting at the very center of the terrace serves as a striking focal point.

To see more photos of this garden, click here: 




  1. gwen

    thanks for this

    June 30, 2014 at 10:34 am
  2. Julie

    Cheers to you and your colleagues, Steve! (Love your violinist–our oldest college boy is a violinist, and our girl just began…the poor dogs are howling all over again.) Congratulations!

    June 11, 2012 at 10:36 am
  3. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    You are all so kind. And so correct.

    June 8, 2012 at 7:39 am
  4. Jeff Minnich

    Congrats, Grump!

    June 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm
  5. Rhonda Hayes

    Congratulations Steve!

    June 5, 2012 at 4:46 pm
  6. Carolyn Choi

    Yes, your Grumpiness, we know how humble you are and how you do all you can to avoid the limelight. But, when it comes to your writing we all have to bow before you, O great one. Congratulations on your well-deserved award.

    June 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm
  7. Donna

    Raise the glass to Grumpy and crew. Nice honor. Love these garden designs too.

    June 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm
  8. Katie @ Team Skelley

    Congrats, GG!

    June 2, 2012 at 10:55 am
  9. jen in nc

    Congratulations Grumpy! I love all your articles in Southern Living, they are my favorite part of the magazine.

    June 2, 2012 at 10:13 am
  10. Jean

    Congrats Steve and all the Southern Living garden experts!
    You all have consistently great articles with beautiful garden pictures. Keep up the good work!

    June 2, 2012 at 9:35 am
  11. Helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence

    Congratulations, Steve. Well deserved!

    June 2, 2012 at 8:39 am

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