RoseHill, Decatur


620 Pinetree Drive, locally known as Rose Hill for its 300+ rose bushes, was built in 2002 to emulate the stately homes along the historic Olmstead Linear Park system of Druid Hills connecting suburban Atlanta with downtown Decatur.  William “Liam” Simmons, Jr. and Christopher Fichtel purchased the just-completed house at 620 Pinetree Drive and began developing gardens on the austere half-acre lot.  They strove to combine the naturalistic sensibilities of Olmstead with a sense of “lost” formality appropriate to the antebellum-style home.  Due to the relatively small size of the property, they arranged several intimate formal garden spaces at intervals around the house which spill into larger informal lawn and planting areas; procession through these spaces and their varying impressions give the sense that the grounds are much larger than they actually are and urge the visitor to continue moving through the garden. A variety of materials and a careful layering of styles suggest that the gardens have evolved for generations rather than a few years.

Liam and Chris flanked the wide stairs and walkway leading to the front of the house with terraced brick planters that maximize usable space on the steeply sloping hillside and anchor the house, which previously seemed “perched” on the hilltop.  The back yard is “enclosed” by the house, a columned pergola and over-scaled “Blenheim Benches” (designed and built by Liam to screen the pool equipment), which together create the effect of an outdoor room housing a roman style pool.  A semi-circular arborvitae hedge embraces a small fountain and shelters the more private areas of the home from the street.  Giant pines tower above a shady corner of the yard where raised planters and a small greenhouse are afforded protection from the full onslaught of the summer sun.  And, of course, there are the omnipresent rose bushes which are the signature element of the home and garden.  Liam and Chris consider the garden to be yet in its infancy; nevertheless, they welcome you to explore its foundations and share its development and transformation in the coming years.