The GNPS members-only Garden Tour was held in the fall for 2013 and members were treated to ideas on how fall perennials can be incorporated into the garden or how they appear in a natural setting.
The private residence of member Leah Pine is a 1910 in-town bungalow that features a front cottage garden with renovated porch and new hardscape setting off a carefully designed meadow. Plantings include grasses like Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues,’ Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah,’ and purple lovegrass, Eragrostis spectabilis; forbs like coneflower, Penstemon, asters, and Liatris; native edibles like blueberries, and an herb garden. The meadow was installed in spring 2012 with plantings ongoing; an adjacent area is being transformed a fern glade with cool-season sedges and grasses.
A full-scale meadow of Andropogon virginicus and other grasses and forbs is in progress for the large, pastoral backyard. A southeastern “American hedgerow” had been just started with deciduous hollies, serviceberry, beautyberry, viburnum, native crabapples and plums, and chokeberry.
In nearby Candler Park is the private residence of member Betsy Abrams where we found a plethora of native plants on a cool north facing slope. Ferns, Fothergilla, Florida anise and Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) are among the plants to be found here.
Past the native shrubs on the west side brought us to the back yard where we found native azaleas and ground covers like pussytoes and partridgeberry. There was a wide variety of other natives ranging from part-sun plants to trees: oakleaf hydrangea, sweet shrub, white and purple beautyberry and bottlebrush buckeye. Beyond a fence, but still on the property is the sunniest spot. Here there are native grasses, such as prairie dropseed (Sporobolus), broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), and two varieties of lovegrass (Eragrostis). Blooming forbs that we found included a variety of asters (Symphyotrichum) and the lovely blue mistflower.
Behind Betsy’s house is Mulberry Fields Community Garden where we found her efforts to educate other community members about native plants by adding native and rescued plants over time to the area including a rescued serviceberry, sparkleberry and redbud. Most spectacular at this time of year was the swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) which Betsy has planted along the sunny edges of the community garden.
The third garden on the tour was a last minute addition (when the previously schedule one had to be cancelled) but is one that is already well known to many GNPS members: The Native Botanical Garden at Georgia Perimeter College’s Decatur Campus.
Here George Sanko took GNPS members on a tour of the gardens, from the elaborate sun gardens featuring native perennials to the extensive fern gardens. The fern gardens include not only a fabulous collection of native ferns but also a separate section for Ferns of the World.
The GPC garden is also available for viewing any time, but of course taking the tour with George Sanko was a treat not to be missed.
The joy of growing native plants was apparent in all of the gardens on this year’s tour. Thanks to all who contributed to making this year’s tour a success.
Garden Tour News & Updates
The Georgia Native Plant Society, with your help, is bringing back the annual member garden tour for 2016. Member and volunteer Charles Hunter has agreed to chair this project and we would very much like to hear from you if you can help! This next year’s tour will be a little earlier than recent tours, and will take place on Saturday, April 23rd, the week after our plant sale. Our hope is that this will catch a lot of the early Spring ephemerals, trilliums, early native azaleas and other early bloomers.