North Carolina in September: Gardens Galore; even more Garden Writers
September 28th, 2009
The 61st annual Garden Writers Association annual symposium took place this past week, hosted by a fabulous group of Raleigh garden communicators who put together a great lineup of uncommon gardens, mouthwatering menus and Southern hospitality. The occasion drew 655 registrants, the second-largest gathering ever in GWA’s history after Philadelphia/Brandywine Valley in 2006.
More than our profession’s top event for education, inspiration and networking, the symposium is an affirmation that what we do every day is connect people with the natural world and the environment of plants, water, soil, sun, and animals through stories and photographs. Garden writers communicate information and share inspiration, so that’s why I love and value how I spend my life.
This week on Shedstyle, I will feature a day-by-day recap of my week in North Carolina. I’ll start with Monday & Tuesday:
I flew to Greensboro, NC, to be welcomed as a guest speaker for the Guilford County Horticultural Society. Because my lecture was scheduled for Monday evening, I arrived very late Sunday and was met by Lois and Charlie Brummitt, two gracious garden hosts.
They gave me a cozy, quiet place to stay, let me sleep in on Monday, made sure I had a mug of English breakfast tea and a scone (along with Internet service to do a little writing in the AM). Lois and her friend Nanny took me out to lunch at Undercurrent, a lovely restaurant (spinach salad for me; oysters and quail salad, respectively, for them – Southern specialties!).
We then toured some of Greensboro’s great private, residential gardens, including the gracious Southern gardens of landscape designer and historian Chuck Callaway and the expansive backyard spread created by Diane Flint. Then we headed for Graham Ray’s woodland landscape.
Graham has devoted 40 years to cultivating his property using a plantsman’s keen intuition to design harmonious compositions of excellent plants in just the right setting. Some of these photos will just have to speak for themselves.
The “buckeye” shown at the top of this page is Aesculus pavia or Red Buckeye, native to the Eastern U.S. and a relative of the Common Horse Chestnut often seen in Seattle (Aesculus hippocastanum). It grows in Graham’s garden and he gave me a pocketful of several to carry home with me. I hope they bring me good fortune!
We arrived at the local Natural Science Center in time for me to set up my slides and meet Lynda Waldrep, who made it all possible as the society’s program coordinator. A special thanks to Lee and Larry Newlin of Garden Discovery Tours for suggesting me and my talk on The Abundant Garden (“Lush and Layered”).
My audience was superb and generous. We had fun conversing about design, plants, and ornamentation in the landscape. And surprisingly, there’s much that North Carolina and Western Washington gardens have in common, including the predominant green palette.
PS, a late dinner of Italian red wine and gourmet pizza, back at Charlie and Lois’s house, was a perfect capper to my 24 hours in Greensboro. We went out to see their garden at night and Charlie pointed out Venus in the sky – magical.
Before I left the next morning, I battled a few mosquitoes to stroll through and snap a few photos of their landscape. It’s a place I hope to return to in the future, to be with new friends and kindred spirits.
Thank you, everyone in Greensboro!
Next . . . Garden Writers Invade Raleigh. What’s better, the food or the plants?!