Revival guide

Revival guide

For those of us who thought romance was dead, landscaper Claudia Sacellary’s story offers a glimmer of hope—in the form of reconstruction. In 1981, only a few years after she moved in, her Batesville home burned down due to faulty wiring, leaving only the foundations. In that space today is a vibrant garden terrace brimming with color and life; even the chimney is bedecked with flowery growth, and Claudia’s artful textural combinations marry well with neat Victorian-style arrangements. My favorite bit of the garden is an old, dead peach tree that she trimmed into an arm shape, surrounded with luscious green plants that cling to it (plus tall, straight sprays for contrast, and bright blooms), and effectively turned into a living sculpture.

Once she and her husband were installed in their home, she found that she couldn’t ignore a longing for the wild outdoors, and a small landscaping business was born. That bud has grown considerably over the years, and now she’s a full-blown workaholic: Some of her latest projects include the Terraces at First and Water streets.—Katherine Cox

"The three houses here were built in the late ’30s/early ’40s, for people who worked on the farm. My mother-in-law, a countess from Hungary who had come over as a displaced person, owned it originally. She was teaching at Hollins where I was at school, and I met her son…for a young person, the whole saga was incredibly romantic. And those Hungarian men were born, bred and raised to charm women, and they did a good job of it. It was right out of the movies. You just didn’t have a chance.

    “I was living here at the time that our house burned, in 1981. I was gone for an hour when it happened, and I came back, and you know…denial takes over so quickly, and I said to myself, ‘I haven’t started a fire, I wonder what that is…’ When we started cleaning it up, I thought I’d like to use the good stone foundations that were left, so I made a little terrace, and I could even still use the chimney—we used to cook in it, hotdogs and things.

    “Now it’s the common area where we have a huge party around the solstice in June; everybody who lives here can join in if they wish, along with people who have lived here before who have become good friends.”

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