Birmingham-based garden designer Troy Rhone penned a column for Flower called Garden Party, which debuted in the Summer 2007 issue and ran for several years. In it, he not only educated us on the how-tos of growing and tending flowers, from hellebores to heirloom roses, but also included the background, myths, and stories about each flower. We are all wiser because of his contributions.
Flower: How did you get started in your business? Did you have an aha moment? Troy Rhone: I remember walking through a beautiful garden while praying and asking the Lord why He had me in horticulture. His response was as loud as anything I’ve ever heard before. He said, “I’m going to use you to create gardens where people can see and feel my presence.” And that was that.
How has your business changed in the last 10 years? At one point in time, we had a service component to our company. I learned so much about what specific plants needed and wanted. Today, I am much more aware of my plant choices—how to keep them happy and how to keep maintenance needs to a minimum. In today’s busy world, having a beautiful garden that is low maintenance is a valuable commodity.
Tell us about your personal garden style. My personal style is a refined cottage look. I love clean lines, but I try not to let a garden get fussy or too modern-looking. Some say my gardens are formal. And it’s true that I love a clipped boxwood hedge, but, rather than keeping them sheared really tight, I like to keep some growth to loosen them up a bit. Just because I like clean lines, I wouldn’t call my look formal.
What are three of your favorite plants that you regularly use in your designs, and why do they appeal to you? I love using antique roses, partly because they are beautiful, but mostly because they are bulletproof. Any plant that has fragrance, pretty blooms, and thrives on neglect is a winner in my book. I also use evergreen plants that have texture. For example, I love to use rosemary for its spiky, fragrant leaf and lamb’s ear for its silver, fluffy leaf.
What should a successful garden evoke? I think a successful garden should evoke three things. First, it should bring a feeling of peace and relaxation. Your blood pressure and stress level should lower to a state of calm. Second, it should fit into the architectural style of your house. The two should not compete but complement one another. And last, it should be an extension of the interiors. There should be a flow from the house and garden to where you don’t feel like you are ever leaving your home.
If you weren’t a garden designer what would you be doing? I would be a travel guide for my friends and show them all the amazing gardens around the world.
By Alice Welsh Doyle | Garden photos by Ryan Carlson. Portrait by Becky Luigart-Stayner