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How does our garden grow?

Leila Case
Columnist, ATR

Like sunflowers that turn their blowsy blooms from east to west following the sun so do the weeds and pesky vines in our yard and garden.

We have weeds galore and vines that think they’re “Jack and the Bean Stalk.”

With the exception of two small formal gardens and a few container gardens, including one planted with perennials that attract bees, butterflies and other flying friends our garden flourishes.

We’ve lived in this house twenty years and we began re-landscaping shortly afterwards.

Fortunately we inherited some beautiful shrubs and trees planted by previous owners. These include camellias on the east side of the house that have coral and white blooms, two large sasanquas, a beautiful Chinese snowball tree a gift to a former homeowner from the late Lucile Smith who even planted it for her. The west side of the driveway has Formosa azaleas that are repeated across the back that have showy fuchsia and white blooms in spring. Formosa azaleas are apparently a very hardy variety. They are gorgeous when in bloom besides their lush green foliage stays year round.

We also inherited a huge problem.

The property line on the west side of the house is lined with what I call troublesome “trash or weed trees” that get over grown before you can turn around.

Also when we moved here huge vines, the kind Tarzan and Jane would swing on that took professional tree trimmers to clear out and still is annoying. The vines even covered the charming circa rock fireplace that anchors the west corner of the back yard.  It was apparently built when the circa 1890s two story house stood on this property that was demolished in the mid-1950s. That’s another story. I think they used the fireplace to burn household trash such as papers and not for cooking out like folks do today. That was unheard of.

We’re also blessed with some beautiful well established trees: two Chinese elms, a pair of ginkgo trees that put on quite a show in fall when their leaves turn yellow and gold. We also have oak and pine trees. We lost one large oak in the front yard to a hurricane a few years ago. A large oak hydrangea anchors the east corner of the side lawn.  It has graceful white blooms in spring. I added hydrangeas that do pretty well.

In the winter of 2002, Carey and Diane Reeves created a beautiful formal rose garden that is in full sun in the back yard and planted 16 hybrid tea roses in four beds lined by pea gravel that bloomed in profusion from early April to frost. Roses are like children. They need constant care. Spraying, fertilizing and watering are continuous. Despite hard work we occasionally had to replace a few then after about ten years, we were advised to dig them up and plant something else in their place.

We allowed the soil lie fallow for a few years before it was transformed by former nurseryman John Fowler. The corners of the four squares are anchored by dwarf boxwood and centered by dwarf lorapetalum that has rust foliage. The center path features a trio of large container pots. A beautiful Rosalynn Carter native azalea that bears yellow blooms in early April is in the largest container. The center pot is planted with a limelight hydrangea and the west corner features a gardenia – my favorite flower – while milk weed with red flowers graces the end of the path.

Billy and Kitten Carter of Green Acres Landscaping created another smaller garden opposite the rose bed that features red knockout roses at the four corners, a birdbath that was moved from elsewhere in the yard as well as lavender agapanthus and Gerber daisies that have red, yellow and white blossoms.

The late nurseryman/landscaper Manson Markette replaced the original foundation plants across the front, added a berm at the west end featuring a small Japanese elm and an ornamental apricot tree. Luckily we haven’t lost any of these shrubs.

Billy and Kitten mow the lawn and prune and keep our yard neat. The St. Augustine grass is sprayed each February with a pre-emergence to keep it weed free. All of this sounds like I’m an expert gardener however I don’t have a green thumb. I water and fertilize and by the grace of God and Mother Nature they have survived. But not as much as the pesky weeds and trees.

Happy gardening y’all.

Elsewhere, John Barrett of Energy Chips Forestry Services and Brandon Vann of AgGeorgia Farm Credit, relationship manager in the Cordele office, attended the 21st annual conference of the Georgia Forestry Conference held at the Westin Hilton Head Hotel in Hilton Head Island, S.C., this past weekend. Brandon was accompanied by his wife, Lauren Vann, and young sons, Bennett Vann and Andrew Vann.

Also at Hilton Head were Mark and Anne Barrett who visited his cousin and husband, Frances Purnell and her husband, Dr. Mark Anthony at their home.

And Lori and Andy Shivers spent a few days at their condo in Panama City Beach while Hannah and Nick Pitts and Matt and Brittany McKenzie vacationed recently in San Francisco and Big Sur, California.