By Ann Marie Quill; photography by Marcy J. Levinson
Outdoor Sanctuaries. . . and the women who create them. Over the next five pages meet three women in our Jewish community who take the phrase “outdoor living” to heart. In Virginia-Highland, Adele Northrup, determined not to let a house fire get her down, rebuilt and decided to make her outside surroundings special, too. Christine Eisner’s Buckhead home doesn’t end at its brick walls — outdoors and indoors coexist in what she calls a state of “balanced living.” And Pat Katz, a landscape architect for Atlanta’s city parks, used her artistic vision to design a special place in south Atlanta that enables children of all abilities to get outside and play.
“You’ve got to come right now’’ was Adele Northrup’s response when I called to see if I could visit her garden. It was 4 in the afternoon and I waffled a bit, not wanting to get stuck in rushhour traffic on the drive from Sandy Springs to Virginia-Highland. But Adele insisted — after all, the garden surrounding her Virginia
Highland Bed and Breakfast was in full bloom, it was a beautiful day, and you never know what the weather has in store for delicate buds. So I grabbed Julep’s photographer, Marcy Levinson, who was game on such short notice, explaining that late afternoon is a perfect time to shoot flowers. When we arrived, Adele led us through the archway next to her mailbox. Once we stepped off the sidewalk, I knew we were in a special place, full of plants, flowers and garden ornaments. Adele led us on a tour of the bed and breakfast first, explaining its history. From the front porch to the back kitchen, the home, originally built in 1920, has a flower motif, and flat-screen TVs coexist with eclectic antiques in the guest rooms. Adele has lived there since 1973, but it has not always been a bed and breakfast. “In 1995 I had a house fire and became very depressed,” she said. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’ So I took out a second mortgage and decided to rebuild as a bed and breakfast. In a way the fire was a blessing. I had been in the interior plant business for 20 years. I was getting older and had a hernia and arthritis from lifting all the heavy pots. One of my clients had asked me if I could do something for her outside, and I knew in my heart I could.”
In 1996, Adele’s home reopened — not just to her, but to a multitude of international guests, thanks to the Summer Olympics. She showed us a soap dispenser her daughter had given as a gift to the bed and breakfast, assuring her not-so-sure mother that her business would be a success. Some 10 years later, that dispenser is still in use. Adele, who became a certified master gardener after her house fire, explained that the garden starts blooming in February. Red buds, Bradford pears and daffodils start appearing, while the azaleas and dogwoods reach their full potential in April. Then come the irises, and the perennials in the summer. In the fall, she plants pansies. The garden goes dormant in the winter, but that is “when you can really see its structure.”
Adele led me through the garden, explaining that structure. The front features boxwoods, azaleas, assorted flowers and a pond. From the front of the house, we started on our left, walking down to the back, flanked by a row of plants native to Georgia. What I wasn’t expecting was the magnitude of the back yard. Adele designed it as a place of meditation and tranquility, complete with a labyrinth she commissioned so that guests can walk it alone with their thoughts. There’s also an oriental tea house one can relax in, as well as a statue of Buddha to contemplate. Her son, a classical architect, constructed a column that sits behind the labyrinth, as well as a deck, a work of art in itself.
Adele, a member of the Orthodox Anshi S’fard, explained that her bed and breakfast is conveniently located in the Virginia-Highland eruv, which also contains Chabad Intown and the Conservative Shearith Israel. Adele’s bed and breakfast is at 630 Orme Circle. For more information, call (877) 870-4485 or visit www.virginiahighlandbandb.com.