Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Garden Walk: In Our Own Back Yards

It's garden touring season and I'm kicking it off with a local tour right here in our own county. Every other year, our county Master Gardener group holds a garden walk, which is a self-paced, self-driven, day-long, rain or shine event. The residential gardens on tour are those of members of the Hall County Master Gardeners and reflect the passion of each of these gardeners. What makes our group distinctive is that each member usually has a specialty. It could be ornamental, edibles, turf, native plants, plant id, IPM, or youth gardening. This diversity is reflected in the members' private gardens, their labor of love. This is where they experiment, do hands-on learning and get creative. So, let's tour~


Garden of Tammy Dellinger

Tammy's focus is on fruit gardening. A grove of fruit trees makes up the back corner of the property. The trees are beautifully pruned and healthy and best of all, full of fruit.


Behind the orchard are clean rows of blueberry shrubs. Also full of plump berries almost ready to be picked. I love her design and neatly kept beds.


On the other end of the garden are rows of blackberries. This has to be one of the most brilliant trellis designs I've ever seen. Made from metal fence posts and wire, they make for easy picking and maintenance


Yum! Look at all that delicious fruit ripening in the sunshine.


This same design is used in the vegetable beds for growing tomatoes. This photo better illustrates how these trellises were constructed.


In the front garden Tammy has created a butterfly habitat around the utility boxes. This often neglected space in homeowner's gardens is nicely designed with butterfly welcoming plants and an attractive solar powered water feature.


The garden of Terri Andrews


Walk into this certified habitat garden, and you immediately hear the sound of rushing water from the waterfalls that flow into a natural pond. This pond can be enjoyed by the homeowners from many rooms inside the home as well as back patio.


The flower beds that use the fence as a backdrop are filled with pollinator friendly plants, including perennials that support bees and butterflies. A mature coral honeysuckle grows happily up the fence and is frequented by hummingbirds.


Garden walks aren't always held when gardens are at full bloom. One often has to envision what a space would look like when many of the plants are blooming, but Terri has advantageously used contrasting foliage and texture to keep it interesting.



The piece de resistance is the 'potting shed', which was purchased from a box store and modified with a pitched roof, beams and windows. I've gone to heaven!



check out the tiled floor!

I could spend hours in this place enjoying the charming space and looking out onto the garden, but this customized structure, complete with a kitty door, is home for the two 'outdoor' cats that patrol the garden.  Lucky kitties!

pampered kitty
A dry creek bed helps slow down excess water flow from the steep slope, protecting the patio below as as well as prevent erosion. Not only is the feature functional but it also provides habitat for ground dwelling critters and a nice basking spot for butterflies and lizards.


The back pergola provides access to the side of the house, where Terri has skillfully used this often overlooked space for her vegetable and herb garden. These beds take advantage of this sunny area and are conveniently located near a rain barrel for easy watering.


Garden of Liz Dietz

It was just a few years ago that this garden was a blank canvas, just waiting for the hands of the right gardener. Liz has created a space that incorporates all her favorite plants.


This is a lovely example of a 'garden within a garden', which provides more planting space and the illusion that the landscape is actually bigger than it is. 


Rocks of varying sizes have been meaningfully placed throughout the landscape and appear as if they have always been there.  Plants have been specifically selected from Liz's list of favorites and planted around the hardscape features.


An appropriately sized, luscious vegetable garden is a focal point in the back garden.


Garden of Chris Michael

This garden is located on a hilly part of Gainesville, and sits directly on Lake Lanier. When Chris purchased the home in 2009, the front garden was an inhospitable hillside of red clay. What he has created in a short eight years is extraordinary.

a magazine worthy garden stairway

A long stone stairway from the street to the home below invites you to walk through the terraced garden filled with shade loving specimen plants.


A balanced mix of trees, shrubs and perennial plants are the foundation of the steep terrain. Hostas and ferns are intermingled throughout.


Some of my favorite features are the natural elements of surprise, modeled here, by ferns growing out from under lichen covered rocks.


A carpet of moss is cushioned around the natural stone steps. Many of the plants in this garden are one of a kind and it is landscaped to perfection. This garden belongs on the glossy pages of a magazine.

Pollinator plants have purposefully been placed in the sunnier pockets of this mostly shade garden. I think it is brilliant how the St. John's Wort has been pruned up to allow more planting space below the shrub and show off the stone retaining wall.


Behind the house, beyond the trees is the lake. I can only imagine how much fun Chris's dogs have frolicking along the waterfront.


One of the challenges living in this area is deer pressure. Plants are often a welcoming buffet to these sweet creatures, making them a gardeners nightmare. Under normal circumstances, their dogs patrol the garden and keep guard. It just so happened that a few nights before the garden tour a neighbor had a party and the dogs were safely kept indoors. The deer took advantage and helped themselves to the buffet munching on the king-sized hostas. Times like these call for a good sense of humor and roll with it attitude.


Garden of Bobbett Holloway

This is a garden with a heartwarming story. More than fifty years ago Bobbett's father began creating this garden to provide his wife with a flower a day. As Bobbett says "he provided the bones and I added the fluff".  Her father began the design of this unique garden on a lot that has road access on both sides. You'd never know it now standing in the garden with its towering trees, several that have been awarded champion tree status.


It is breath taking to stand beneath such a stand of old-growth trees. I had to pull myself away from looking up all the time. It is a birds paradise with such a grand canopy and Bobbett has outfitted the garden with bird boxes and berry producing shrubs to their delight.



Despite its location, the mature garden feels very private, almost as if one is in a secret garden. Around every turn there is something new to discover. Like this cleverly repurposed lawn mower, which now functions as a rolling plant stand for her calamondin tree.


Or this impressive poinsettia, which Bobbett has been growing for five years. Talk about a green thumb!


Bobbett's hydrangea collection is impressive and rivals her azaleas, which are the best in the county.




The dappled light in this shade garden is magical. It is a refreshing reprieve on a hot Southern summer day. Truly a gardener's delight.


This tour will be back in 2019 and my garden will be one featured on this walk. But next up is the Garden Blogger Fling in Washington D.C. and surrounding area. I can't wait to be thrown into more garden goodness!

10 comments:

  1. What a wonderful tour - I would have loved to spend the day examining every nook and cranny of those gardens. They are all so different and I can see taking something away from each of them to apply in my own garden. Of course, I was immediately drawn to those blackberry supports - they are just loaded with fruit!

    And that's not a potting shed - it's a guest house! Lucky cats is right!

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    1. Every time I tour a garden, even if it is not my style or cup of tea, I try to take at least one thing away from the visit. Gardeners are such passionate people and pour their heart into their gardening space and should be appreciated. I thought you would like those blackberry supports Margaret!

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  2. Looks like a fun garden tour. I think I like the Chris Michael garden best of all.

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    1. He does have a fabulous garden. You should see the before and after, it is amazing what can be done in a space given the right vision and gardener.

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  3. You must have had such a nice day seeing all these wonderful gardens Karin. Have a wonderful time at the Fling. Tammy has worked so tirelessly and has done such an amazing job. I wish I could be there!!

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    1. We will miss you Jennifer! I hope you can make it to another fling in the future. Yes, Tammy and her crew have been nothing short of amazing! The organization and communication leading up to the event has been exceptional!

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  4. What a great garden tour with so many beautiful gardens! So many great ideas, too. I just love that blackberry trellis. I know just how hard it is to garden on that pure red clay - I am so impressed with what those gardeners have done!

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    1. I love this tour (not only because they are my Master Gardener people) but also because I know almost all the work has been done by the gardeners own hand. It has been their vision and soil covered hands that have created such masterpieces.

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  5. Wow, the interior of Terry Andrews' potting shed is gorgeous! I love that. So are Chris Michaels' and Bobbett Holloway's woodland gardens!

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    1. I took away a lot of inspiration from their shade gardens too. I struggle with dry shade so I am always looking for ideas to get plants to thrive in those conditions.

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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