In the mid-nineties, Mary and I started a garden next to one side of the wraparound back porch. We knew that the area would be the way to enter the breakfast room and the main route to enter the backyard. Over time this area evolved into a four section garden that was crossed by two walking areas. After even more time it became an extension of the living area around the swimming pool we installed.
I should begin with some information about the place where we have lived since 1992. The house was built on a hill that had been part of the Walker farm. Our neighborhood, The Lakes of Enniskerry, started out as The Estates at Manigault in the early 1990s. The Walker Farm which was on Birmingham Highway and was halfway between Crabapple and Birmingham in North Fulton County was developed into seventy-two acre-plus lots. Our house was one of the first built and was located on the site of the Walker house which had burned at some point before the property was developed.
Our lot was graced with a lovely view of the small, and not so charming-sounding, Chicken Creek valley. Beyond that was a view of the Providence Road ridge line. We have cared for interesting trees that remained from the Walker farm. A gnarled Box Elder bent over an area of our gently curving driveway as it led up to our house. Our sons called it the Ghost Tree, but that is another story to write. Another tree was the huge foot and a half diameter wild cherry tree that had grown with a trunk that circled back upon itself. It housed a snake nest midway up its trunk, only discovered when the tree was dead and was being cut down. Old red cedars still grow on the property, as does a black walnut tree, the survivor of two which produced hard green balls that proved nearly impossible to yield nuts. A large forked poplar was home to the boys’ fort. We added Osage Orange tree seedlings that son Will brought home from a Bulloch Hall Heritage Summer Camp that he attended as a pre-teen. They are mature, enjoying good health and producing green, softball-sized inedible fruit in their transplanted location. Native Americans and pioneers valued them. More on that point later.
A bumper crop that pigs supposedly prefer not to eat. Mosquitoes are also repelled by the fruit.
Will Green gathered these Osage Oranges which are also called hedge apples. He displayed them in his living area in our terrace level.
Back to the garden by the porch…
We made it into a themed garden divided into quadrants and enclosed by a scalloped wood fence. There are two gates, one of which is double and covered by an arbor. Walkways cross a large brick paved center path that divides the space into four planting beds. Each quadrant contains a statue on a pedestal that depicts the seasons of the year. Two of the statues came from Frank and Louise Liddell’s cabin at Lake Lanier. How the set was completed is a story for another blog entry.
Gardens age and evolve, depending on the care and vision of the people who design, tend,and love them.
We originally conceived the Seasons Garden as a patterned Colonial Williamsburg garden. We used pea gravel paths, roses, an arbor, and perennial beds edged by boxwoods, and brick. The roses were hybrid teas of standard or tree form, and David Austin patented English selections. We began the garden with grand plans for rose cultivation. Those plans had to be adjusted as we learned hard lessons about rose sustainability. The clay soil and humidity in Zone 7a encouraged rose fungus, insects, and plant disease. Tulip bulbs that enticed us from glossy mail-order catalogs disintegrated in the red clay soil. Soil amendment and composting did not help them. Lesson: treat tulips as annuals in Georgia, if planted at all. Heritage flowering bulbs never disappoint and provide a living link to family history. Pea gravel scatters and annoys, though kids love it. As gardeners and visitors age, pea gravel presents hazards. Hard surfaces make the best walkways.
The garden fence and boxwoods enclose about one hundred square feet of space. The Seasons Garden contains a memorial to a pet cat. Chincheloise, or Eloise, was a shaded silver Persian that Mary and I adopted from the Atlanta Humane Society in 1977. She was a mature, long-haired Persian that was the “Pet of the Week” in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Eloise was a beauty that needed a caring home. She lived with us for ten years in Lawrenceville, Georgia. We brought her carved granite memorial to our home when we moved in 1992.
Gardens require makeovers sometimes. Our son, Evan Michael Green, took charge of the garden renovation. His brother, William Donley Green assisted with some of the labor, such as removal of ground cover that had become rampant. Evan dug, discarded, and transplanted a huge amount of plant material. My own physical ability to garden has become limited and Mary has taken on most of the maintenance of the garden.
Seasons Garden Renovation began in late winter 2019. Evan is a hard working and creative landscaper. He has renovated and replaced nearly all of our shrubs and gardens. Along the way, his brother Will and Will’s friend Robb have pitched in where needed. We have also relied upon Tad Carter of Rucker Landscape, Scottsdale Farms and Buck Jones Nursery for landscape needs.
The Seasons Garden was replanted with mostly transplants and a few new plants, some purchased and some relocated from my family home in Duluth. I am really happy to have daffodils from the Liddell home place. These heritage double-flowered daffodils are called ‘butter ‘n’ eggs’ and grew in the ornamental gardens of the old Liddell home place. That house was built around 1840 on Beaver Ruin Creek in Gwinnett County. The ‘butter ‘n’ eggs blooms are center top in the image below.
Walker Farm daffodils remain on our property and faithfully bloom every Spring.
Seasons Garden Renovation
Evan clearing overgrown plantings
One year after Seasons Garden renovation
￼Seasons Garden Plant List
Toothed Wood Fern
Dwarf red banana
Golden sedge grass
Sedum, ‘Autumn Joy’
Red monarda, “bee balm”
Creeping pink phlox
Assorted hostas, ‘blue cadet,’ ‘earth angel’
Heuchera ‘creme brûlée’
Achillea, “yarrow” pink, yellow
Dianthus barbatus, “Sweet William”
Purple monarda, “bee balm”
Assorted bearded irises
Cleome, “spider flower”
Evening primrose, “eight o’clock”
Iris domestica, “blackberry lily”
Stokesia, purple and white
Heritage daffodil, “butter ‘n’ eggs” daffodil
A Final Word
As I end this blog entry, I was thinking about what a diversion this writing has been from thinking about COVID-19. I asked Mary, “What day of the pandemic is it?” Without missing a beat she said, “Nine hundred and fifty.” Commentators are stating that March 11, 2020 was the pivotal day when catastrophic world events became very real to Americans. A pandemic was changing our daily lives.