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Steven & Susan Bradley Garden, 1992-2008

Former owner:
Bradley, Susan
Bradley, Steven
Landscape designer:
Lea, Patricia
Garden Club of Lookout Mountain
Physical description:
1 folder+ 26 digital images
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, Georgia, Dade County, Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain
Steven & Susan Bradley Garden (Lookout Mountain, Georgia)
Steven and Susan Bradley worked for nearly thirty years to transform six of their thirty-three acre property into a coherent garden that accommodates a steep terrain, displays unusual and colorful plants, and is seamless with the natural surroundings including distant views of the Smoky Mountains. During the early years of their ownership the woodlands needed to be cleared of fallen limbs and dead trees, including many dogwood trees that had succumbed to anthracnose blight. The forest floor was opened up to more light, allowing wild flowers and native pinxter to thrive, and the Bradleys added naturalized beds of spring bulbs. Their sustainable practices of using cow dung and leaf mold as fertilizers and severely limiting the use of herbicides and pesticides has encouraged birds, salamanders and beneficial insects onto the property. Walkways wide enough for two people were installed to make the terrain passable, with plantings of shrubs alongside blocking steep drops that might be dangerous. A severely eroded slope next to the house was improved by channeling and containing the overflow of water from a neighbor's property and installing water-loving plants nearby. There are mature oak, hemlock, buckeye and pine trees as well as native mountain laurel, azaleas and rhododendron, oak leaf hydrangea and viburnum planted throughout the property, the dogwood have reappeared, and a stand of Japanese maples the Bradleys planted reminded them of a previous residence in Japan.
An underground water system of nearly two miles was installed and electric and telephone wires were run underground. Boulders were dug out of planting beds. Perennials including black-eyed Susan and phlox were allowed to self-sow and spread to ground that had been improved with composts, and Siberian iris have been divided and replanted to fill a steep bank next to the house that was dangerous to mow when planted in grass. The combination of native, common and unusual plants provides bloom for nine months of the year. One bed holds Exbury azaleas, species Rhododendron bought in Steven Bradley's native Washington state, and an Alabama snow wreath that in 2009 was awarded the Catherine Beattle medal for excellence in horticulture by the Garden Club of Lookout Mountain.
All the land in the area was inhabited by the Cherokee Nation prior to their displacement in 1838. The vacant land was then auctioned to the surviving widows and orphans of soldiers who fought in the War of 1812, and the property the Bradley's owned and gardened was passed down through one family before they purchased it.
This garden has been featured in many garden tours. Proceeds from tours have supported the work of The Garden Conservancy and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.
Persons associated with the garden include Ashley and Ruth Purse (former owners, 1948-1960); Robert and Helen Davenport (former owners, 1960-1980); Steven and Susan Bradley (former owners, 1980-2009); Patricia Lea (garden designer, 1985-2009)
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles, and garden tour guides.
This property is featured in "Chattanooga's First Garden Tour" by Judy Lowe, published in Chattanooga News-Free Press, May 20, 1988; and "A Garden of Peace and Tranquility" by Judy Lowe, published in Chattanooga Free Press, June 11, 1995
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Archives of American Gardens

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