Tuscan Gardens In Alabama

As promised, here are the Tuscan gardens created by Mark Montoya behind the Montgomery, Alabama firestation.

If you missed part one on the artist go here.

If you missed part two on the station converted into a home go here.

NOW, we are all caught up and continue this journey to the heart of Italian alfresco dining spots without ever leaving our fair city.

Walking out the back door of the station I was greeted by this ancient looking, supposedly crumbling brick and stone wall with arched windows providing a sneak peek into the real garden and a rustic trellis just begging for grapevines.

cindy barganier/mark montoya


The juxtaposition of rusting iron candelabra and fuchsia hydrangea blossoms against that stone backdrop had my creative juices churning.  You see I am a gardener at heart but not in actuality. I love the planning and planting but hate the maintenance… therefore my gardens are always one color…..brown. Not good.


And then my little pea picking heart followed that pea gravel path and encountered this.

I almost ran to the back to see what was behind that hedge.


Mark Montoya/Cindy Barganier



Would you like to see?

cindy barganier


Wait for it.

walled garden, urn, ancient


mark montoya gardens



mark montoya,cindy barganier


gardens, cindy barganier, mark montoya


And then I turned around.

montoya garden, cindy barganier




Imagine: the party lights are on, the tables are spread with white farmhouse tea towels and those enchanting little folding metal chairs that you see all over France and Italy are place haphazardly around.. not too perfect you know. The candles are glowing, the wine is flowing, the bread is hot and the figs and cheese fresh.

The tree frog symphony tunes up but does not clash with the violins playing in the background……………..

oops, I think I left you.

You should come along to this charming party in my mind and when it is time to say buonanotte enjoy the flip side of that beautiful wall as you stroll into the night.

tuscan garden in Alabama

mark montaya cindy barganier


Thanks guys. I feel like I had a mini-vacay in the middle of the week.



Early 20th Century Firehouse Now Enchanting Home

If you missed part I of this post go here to read about the genius minds behind this renovation. Today it is my privilege to take you on a house tour of the old South McDonough Street Firehouse that has been loving converted into a jaw dropping home.

David Keith Braly is the architectural brain and Mark Montoya is the creator of the gorgeous Tuscan gardens out back.

I was just the happy camper who was invited to experience the whole thing first hand. Oh, and did I mention that the first floor that used to house the fire engines is now a working artist studio that turns out masterpieces featured in all of your favorite shelter magazines? Yep. Just another day in the life of. :)



The old fire engine bay.

The old fire engine bay.


Sample for a commissioned mural.

Sample for a commissioned mural.



Office area downstairs

Office area downstairs



Join me as we head upstairs.

Join me as we head upstairs.


Are you ready for this? This used to be the firemen’s dormitory.

 Living Room

Living Room

I dearly loved the Dutch detailing used in the kitchen.

David Braley




David Braley

David Braley-Cindy Barganier



David Braley

Lights designed by David and manufactured by Kevin Reilly

David Braley

Yep, fireman’s pole, made beautiful by John Phillips.


David Braley



Hand painted mural on stairway wall

Hand painted mural on stairway wall

David Braley



This is the only way to take your work to bed with you. Please may I have that urn?

David Braly

Yes, please.



Thank you for the tour.  Next up? Yearning for a garden party? I have just the place.

Meet David Braly and Mark Montoya

I have admired the work of David Keith Braly for years. David is yet another amazing artist who hails from Florence, Alabama.  Florence, what do you add to your water???

David received his undergraduate from Auburn in 1979 and taught in the school of architecture. Five years later he began painting. It is the architectural element in his paintings that makes me love them so.


Best known for the massive murals that he creates for both homes and public spaces throughout the country, David’s work is instantly recognizable.


Mural by David Braly for Saladino designed apartment complex in NYC Photo credit: Elmore DeMott

In 1989 an Atlanta interior designer commissioned him to paint his first mural for a corporate office the designer was working on. It was basically a large architectural drawing. That was 25 years ago and he hasn’t stopped yet. He had the opportunity to teach for a while in London. (Sad life, huh?) Then McAlpine Tankersley called for him to do a mural in Nashville. He took a year off to work on that assignment….which lead to another year off and another assignment….which led to “Hey! Let’s just keep on going.”

To dig deeper into his early works click on the link below.


He is now working on another commission for John Saladino. Not too shabby.


The Saladino project is a mail center in New York. I was thrilled to hang out in David’s studio last week as he and his team worked on the line drawings for what will become a border mural depicting the history of mail delivery in this country. I love the pony express rider tearing through the forest. Perhaps he is on the Old Federal Road here in Pike Road, Alabama carrying love letters to the frozen north. Or maybe I have just lived with a writer for too long?





The other half of this dynamic duo is Mark Montoya.  Mark’s father was a grower for Caffco here in Montgomery so Mark’s love for landscape architecture and garden design was a natural progression. However! He is quite the artist in his own right. He was the head of product development for Caffco from 1980-1995 working in ceramics and other mediums.

He now not only works with David on the large commissions but paints and creates wonderful living landscapes inspired by his travels to Italy and beyond.

There was no way to share everything that I wanted to share with you in one post so you will have to come back for

Part II to experience the landmark fire station that has been converted into a jaw dropping home.


Part III that will include a tour of the Italian walled gardens behind the fire house.

Lots more to come as you can tell and you don’t want to miss it.

Hope you enjoy!

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