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Monday
Jul122010

A Southern Garden Party

Carol Washington's home near Birmingham sits in a suburban neighborhood of manicured lawns, and her house is not so different from the others. However, front flower borders hint of something special waiting for folks who stop to explore. Carol will occasionally open her garden to visitors, and I was happy to attend a garden party at her house this past weekend. 

Some friends and I had parked the car and were perusing plants for sale under a tree when Carol hurried toward us and welcomed us, smiling and talking and hugging us all. Rain was predicted and clouds were building, but it couldn't rain on Carol's party. She wouldn't let it, and it didn't. 

Behind Carol's house, paths and terraces descend toward a creek, and I immediately noticed roses cascading down the hillside and an iron arbor near the bottom. There was so much to take in, with plants teeming over the soil and climbing heavenward and more flowers erupting out of containers of every sort, from elegant urns to humble plastic pots from the discount store. It is a garden of exuberance and joy, with a personality just like its maker's.

We spent several hours exploring Carol's garden, and that was not enough. The tapestry of plants was mesmerizing.

Like every great garden, this one has places to sit and enjoy the scenery. Carol has a multi-level deck and garden house, with chairs and tables to accommodate visitors. Other benches and chairs are tucked along the garden paths. My friends and I found a spot on the deck's lower level. We ate pound cake and watermelon and drank pink lemonade. Kenny G. music played in the background. Eventually someone handed me another drink. 

"What's in this?" I asked.

"I don't know," the lady said, "But it's good."

It was fruity and mildly spiked, probably with wine. Then came fried green tomatoes. The tomatoes were freshly picked from Carol's vegetable plot and fried to perfection by our hostess. You know you are in the South when you bite into those tangy tomatoes with crunchy cornmeal coating.

As I sipped my punch, I admired some nearby statuary. There are a variety of lovely pieces throughout her garden, and it was fun finding them nestled amidst the plants.

It was a garden party done right, complete with door prizes and plants for sale at extremely reasonable prizes. You had to be careful. If Carol saw you admiring a particular plant, she would likely just give it to you. I came away with moon vine, voodoo plant (it has a creepy, smooth trunk that looks like snakeskin), a variegated pittosporum, and some four-o'clocks. These plants are at home with me now, and they will hold happy memories of Carol Washington and her garden.

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Reader Comments (15)

What a riot of plants! Everything looks so lush and cared for. Lucky you! You obviously had a lovely time. And that voodoo plant sounds so intriguing.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSunita

I have read elsewhere about people who offer plants for sale which is interesting to me. Sounds like you had a lot of fun. Nice photos.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Dear me, I got lost in this writing as though I was reading pages from a novel. Felt like I was really there. Then I started dreaming of a garden party in my own garden. I've been sitting here a while now. Sounds like you had a lovely time. Thanks for sharing your visit.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFloridagirl

Friends, food and a beautiful garden ... sounds good to me! She does have a beautiful, interesting garden and I'm sure it was wonderful to see.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

What a lovely garden. Would really like to see it! And what a fantastic blog you have - I will return soon:)
Have a lovely evening,
Charlotta
Cesar's garden

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMadame C

Oh my, such a pretty place. Thank you for the garden party tour. I love the layering and combination of plants. So much to see...what fun!

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Hi Debs,

The garden certainly looks like a wonderful place to be... And a garden party! Ooooh how exciting... It certainly sounds like a thing from a bygone age :)

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Maybe I should have a garden party. People could meander through the overgrown grass, past the remains of Hill 49, circumnavigate the Hole (it's a new feature, somewhat akin to a hole in the ground) whilst admiring the pile of old bricks that will one day be a path, then they could sit on the patio, between the old tin baths filled with tomato plants that won't fruit, and they could wonder just what in hell they were doing in an idiot's garden!

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Idiot Gardener

Something to see in every nook and cranny of that garden. She's an exuberant gardener!

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Hello Deb,

I could just spend hours in this special garden - it is so beautiful! I love how gardens mirror the personality of the gardener :-)

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle / azplantlady

Deborah, sounds like you had a great time, so interesting going to open gardens, you always get some many great ideas. I love the iron arbour in the first shot, gorgeous.

Your photo collages show the great little details in each section. I can see that you could spend a lot of time checking out all of the vignettes, since there are lots of wonderful textures and combinations. A full garden can look so interesting.

July 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNorthern Shade

What a magnificent garden! So glad you went and shared it with us.

July 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I missed this post when it was first published. I think I could have spent all day in there walking along all those wonderful little paths wondering what was around the corner. I'm sure you came away with loads of inspiration aswell as the plants.

July 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

It sure looks like the perfect place for a garden party. I'd love to visit a garden like that, especially with all that delicious sounding food.

July 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

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