Spring garden tour will offer different look than one in fall
By: By JIMMY WILLIAMS Special to The Messenger
The second installment of last fall’s Athena Delphian Club Garden Walk is set for May 3. You may recall that another walk was held last October and was declared a success as more than $2,000 was raised by the club for local charity and service work.
The same four gardens will be featured this time around, the idea being to offer opportunity for viewing the gardens at opposite seasons so that different “crops” of ornamental things may be observed.
The tour hours have been extended an hour, this time from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. There were those true garden addicts last fall who did not have enough time to see all they could take in during the three hours that walk provided. You’ll have another hour this time.
Be assured, the look will be totally different from last fall. Instead of mums, asters, autumn foliage and sunflowers that were awash in last fall’s gardens, this time there’ll be dogwoods, azaleas, viburnums, rhododendrons, native wildflowers, irises, peonies and a plethora of other beauty that comes around only in spring.
The garden of Joe and Diane Mahan off McIntosh Road (just off India Road) is the youngest of the four, at about six years. The Mahans have done a remarkable job in putting together a garden that appears much older. Part of the reason is the good fortune they had with mature hardwood trees on the property, but they have worked like proverbial Turks to get where they are now.
Joe and Diane did use some large plants when they first began their landscaping. Boxwoods, hollies and azaleas were already sizeable when they went in. The big secret, however, of their quick success has been proper soil preparation. Plenty of good grit (sand primarily), along with peat and topsoil made their beds amenable to fast growth.
Besides a number of azaleas and viburnums, take a gander at Diane’s herb garden in the back, one of the finest in the area considering the small space at the foot of a retaining wall. Diane’s potting shed back in the woods is a work of art in itself.
Bo and Kathy Caldwell, out on Green Valley East, took up domicile there some eight years ago, and, again, soil prep is one of the keys to their success. They have lost almost no plants of the hundreds they have planted.
An Arkansas stone retaining wall back of the house is raised about three feet, allowing easy gardening. Kathy has devoted this bed to alpine type plants, Japanese maples and conifers.
A fine feature is a set of stone steps and a path under a redwood arch holding climbing roses. From a breakfast room window, the view through the arch is on axis with a large urn atop a stone plinth at the far end of a fescue lawn.
A stand of Korean azaleas will, unfortunately, be out of bloom at the time of the walk, but, fortunately, there are plenty of other azaleas to take up the slack. Several D.D. Blanchard southern magnolias are on the property, giving guests opportunity to observe this variety, among the best of the species.
The garden of Dr. Walter and Carolyn Griffey off Paul Drive (off Jackson Drive, just off India Road) has the largest perennial and shrub border I know of anywhere in this area. Several hundred feet long and about 30 feet deep, there are masses of such things as the fabulous Knockout roses, shasta daisies, ornamental grasses, needle and broadleaf evergreens and on almost ad infinitum.
Entering the long drive you will pass a three-acre lake with weeping willows and other moisture lovers and drive under an allee of red maples, before you reach the big hardy border on the right.
Other features in the Griffey garden are a little parterre outside the breakfast room, a woodland garden with azaleas and rhododendrons, a courtyard at the upper drive with a pool centered with bronze statuary, and other borders of perennials and annuals. This garden is 34 years old and surrounds the federal house.
At our garden, preposterously known as Tennessee Dixter (after Great Dixter in England) there are water features (two), mixed borders, woodland paths with native plants and other shade lovers, a gazebo in the woods, hand-made garden benches and several unusual woody plants and perennials. Our garden is also 34 years old, and is located at 1315 East Blythe St., just east of Volunteer Drive.
The tour is a go, rain or shine, so in case of inclement weather, bring your galoshes and an umbersol.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 4.22.08
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path