On a meandering trip back from the coast recently I stopped at the library in Fair Bluff, NC, and popped out of the car for a minute to stretch my legs. There’s a railroad track just across from the library, and because I can never pass up a chance to scope out the wild plants along the tracks, I went that way first.
Something dark purple amid the tiny, pale wildflowers there caught my eye. Dozens of clumps were scattered along the tracks.
A few of the clumps were more magenta than purple.
I’m not sure if any of these are native or whether they’ve naturalized here, but I enjoyed seeing them.
Wing Haven’s Gardeners’ Garden Tour is a Mother’s Day weekend tradition for many, and this year my daughter made me a very happy mom by going with me for the first time. The weather was cool and gray on Saturday, which is actually quite good for visiting gardens (at least according to me!), but attendance was light so perhaps not everyone agrees.
From Wing Haven we walked down the sidewalk a few yards to the Elizabeth Lawrence Garden. A welcome sign at the entrance says,
Elizabeth Lawrence (1904–1985), one of the country’s preeminent garden writers, lived in this house for 35 years. Miss Lawrence designed the house and garden which were built in 1948–1949.
Miss Lawrence is recognized as one of the three greatest influences on Southern horticulture, along with Thomas Jefferson and J. C. Raulston. She is also listed among the Top 25 Gardeners of All Time. Enter through the garden gate …
Sufficiently awed, we did.
Elizabeth Lawrence Garden
The perennial borders from the back of the Elizabeth Lawrence house.
Miss Lawrence was a collector and, like many of us, didn’t seem to mind “drifts of one” one bit!
From the back of the garden looking toward the house
In contrast to the sunny borders near the house, the back of the garden is shady with woodland plants and her famous Treasure Tree, Stewartia pseudocamellia. It was still blooming, but the blooms were mostly too high in the tree to see (or photograph) well.
Kousa angustata ‘Elsbry’, Empress of China ™ Evergreen Dogwood
A dogwood faucet! My favorite detail of the day.
The Elizabeth Lawrence Garden is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday. The $10 admission fee also includes admission to Wing Haven which is a few yards down the same street, Ridgewood Avenue.
Tour Garden #1: Brian Caldwell & Robert Shore
While some gardens are designed with maximum plant capacity and ideal growing conditions in mind — plant-centric you could say — the hardscaping of this garden makes it a wonderful place for people to mill around and visit with each other. The sound of water and so many enticing spots to enjoy the greenery must make this garden a dream for entertaining.
A carefully pruned Japanese maple is diamond jewelry for this garden
Tour Garden #2: Suzanne & Harold Wilkerson
Two master gardeners have created a charming garden with something for everyone. There is plenty of sun, but also several shady spots, and the soothing sound of water from a fountain. A vegetable plot, as well as containers filled with ornamentals and edibles round out several garden “rooms.”
An ochre house is a beautiful backdrop for pink azaleas and blue hydrangeas.
The shady porch is a comfortable place to admire beautiful plantings.
The flowering topiary is pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana), a pretty ornamental that can also produce edible fruit.
Doesn’t this gazebo look just like the ones you see in miniature dish gardens? But it’s full size! You can actually sit in there.
How brilliant putting water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) in the fountain — so charming and attractive!
Tour Garden #3: Mary & Bill Staton
Whimsical garden art combines with annuals, perennials, and vegetables to make this large garden a personable space. It’s pleasant for wildlife too — a Certified Wildlife Habitat ®.
What an enviable potting space!
Beyond the sunny vegetable and perennial space is a wooded slope. As you follow the moss path you find yourself in a cathedral of trees so tall you won’t believe you’re in Charlotte. How old some of these trees must be! At the bottom of the slope a creek adds the sound of moving water. I apologize to the gardener/homeowner for not doing a better job taking photos. It is truly awesome back there.
Tour Garden #4: Roy Clark
This gardener invites visitors to indulge their own passion for plants, and to “garden from the heart.” It is clear that he has done that himself in this relatively new Charlotte neighborhood. The 7,600 square feet is just packed with plants of all sorts — my favorite kind of garden. The pleasant sound of water from tiny water fountains, bird baths, and a running stream is relaxing, and there’s a gazebo for hanging out with neighbors and friends, many of whom were there on Sunday. It is a welcoming, friendly place.
Tour Garden #5: Mary Powers
The transition from house to garden is blurred on this property by a beautiful pool area just outside the door, and several garden rooms dividing up the space beyond. The garden is chemical and pesticide free, and includes many native plants along with bird-planted volunteers. The gardener/homeowner considers it her “birdsong place of curiosity and wonder,” where she watches nature take its course and gets her daily dirt therapy.
Shady areas were packed full of lush plants; how in the world does she keep the deer off those hostas?