Runners up: Scott and Charlene Uhl, Woodbine

Drawing inspiration from Winterthur, Longwood Gardens and Colonial Virginia plantations, the Uhls created a formal garden next to the house and added informal plantings of trees, shrubs and perennials away from the house. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun photo / July 8, 2014)

With more than 2½ acres in Carroll County, Scott and Charlene Uhl faced the challenge of creating intimate gardens in an expansive space.

But Charlene Uhl, the budget director at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Scott Uhl, a retired state health department official who now spends time on investments, came up with a solution.

Drawing inspiration from Winterthur, Longwood Gardens and Colonial Virginia plantations, they created a formal garden next to the house and added informal plantings of trees, shrubs and perennials away from the house.

Their plan took time to evolve, Scott Uhl, notes. They moved into the home in 2001 and didn't begin work on the formal garden until three years later.

Scott Uhl designed the three-tiered patio garden that is surrounded by inkberry bushes and Japanese barberry. The space features two 1,500-gallon ponds with fountains and water lilies as well as several beds, including herb, rose and miniature boxwood gardens.

"We wanted a quiet, private garden for us and guests to read, relax and dine," Scott Uhl says. "It gives us pleasure just to look at it."

Although the couple enjoy spending time on the patio, the gardens can be enjoyed from inside the house as well. "Each window of the house gives a different view of the gardens and trees," he notes.

Favorite plants: Scott's favorite is the common boxwood. Charlene's is the pagoda dogwood.

Advice: Although the Uhls purchased a number of plants at large retail stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot, they also patronized local nurseries. They advise gardeners to get to know local growers who can provide plant suggestions.