The Garden Club of Jackson Garden Tour 2020 - April 23-24, 2020
Eudora Welty, in addition to being one of Mississippi’s most prominent and award-winning literary talents, provided a perfect example of a dedicated Southern gardener who tended flowers in her Jackson, Mississippi garden alongside her mother. Similarly, two local daughters faithfully watched their mothers garden, which ultimately resulted in the young women becoming members of The Garden Club of Jackson. Margaret Scott and Margaret Palmer, daughters of Gail Doty and Sheila Palmer, respectively, are serving as chairs of the 11th biennial garden tour, scheduled for April 23 and 24, organized by The Garden Club of Jackson.
The two “Margarets” have been working for over a year to organize this highly anticipated garden tour which will give visitors a unique opportunity to see some of the same flowers that Eudora Welty described in her novels and short stories and actually grew in her Belhaven neighborhood garden. Five gardens will be on tour, as well as three of the homes. The Garden Club of Jackson will donate proceeds from the ticket sales of the garden tour to Jackson’s historic Greenwood Cemetery, located in downtown Jackson, where many prominent and notable Jacksonians, including our famed Eudora Welty, are buried, as well as many honored military veterans, Jackson mayors, and prominent Jackson families.
Since the tour’s inception in 1993, garden club members have generously donated the proceeds of each garden tour to various worthy causes in order to conserve, beautify, and enhance many of Jackson’s cherished landmarks and beautiful gardens. In part, the stated purpose of the Garden Club of Jackson, in keeping with its national organization, The Garden Club of America, which was founded in 1913, reads: “The purpose of The Garden Club of America is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening…” By giving back to the community, The Garden Club of Jackson remains an active participant in the future and sustainability of the greater Jackson, Mississippi area.
Because of Greenwood Cemetery’s centrally located position in the layout of Jackson, it has always been in a prominent position, as it sits at the northwest corner, just a stone’s throw from the state Capitol building. No other structure speaks to Jackson’s rich heritage like Greenwood, which was first laid out almost 200 years ago in 1823, by Jackson’s early founders. Numerous generations have visited and been taught the importance of heralding the memory of fallen Civil War, WW I, and WW II veterans. The proceeds from The Garden Club of Jackson’s garden tour will be used to maintain and care for the numerous cemetery trees which often pose a threat to the aging grave markers and headstones. Consistent trimming of limbs, and often necessary tree removal, keep the cemetery a viable and safe place, not only for the headstones, but also for the numerous family members and other visitors who stroll through the beautiful 22 acres each year, visiting their loved ones’ graves. The Garden Club of Jackson helps make the preservation of this renowned cemetery possible through garden tour funds. In 2014, garden tour funds were used to replace the chain link fence bordering Davis Street. Greenwood Cemetery will greatly benefit once again when The Garden Club of Jackson awards its 2020 garden tour funds to the beloved cemetery.
According to Garden Club of Jackson member Cecile Wardlaw, who is the secretary of the Greenwood Cemetery Association and an almost daily volunteer in the cemetery, “I believe that cemeteries are a reflection of their communities, and we show respect for our neighbors and our city by maintaining them. Greenwood is Jackson’s oldest landmark…” When worldwide visitors were coming for the 100th birthday celebration of Eudora Welty a few years ago, Cecile made sure that the writer’s headstone and surrounding area were in perfect condition.
In addition to Greenwood Cemetery, The Garden Club of Jackson’s garden tours have supported many gardens and historic sites for the past 16 years. The current Garden Club of Jackson president Lyn McMillin, notes, “To date, we have given almost $200,000 to the community in funding for historic restoration, beautification, and civic improvement.” In fact, The Garden Club of Jackson designated the funds from the 2004 garden tour to the Eudora Welty Garden. In addition, one of the previous projects of The Garden Club of Jackson was to furnish volunteers to work in the rose garden behind the Eudora Welty House, located on Pinehurst Street in Jackson. Other sites which have benefitted from proceeds of garden tours have been: Mynelle Gardens, Habitat for Humanity, The Oaks House Museum, The Cedars, Hinds Community College, The Mississippi Museum of Art, The Mississippi Children’s Museum, Stewpot Community Services, and The Lowry House. Additional garden club funds have also supported: Weed Wrangle; scholarships for landscape students at Hinds Community College and Mississippi State University; Dewitt Street beautification; and landscape learning seminars, which are open to commercial and residential lawn care professionals.
The 2020 Garden Club of Jackson spring garden tour features five beautiful gardens, all located in northeast Jackson. The five gardens, and the three homes, will be on tour from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, April 23 and 24. In addition, the ticketed preview party will be held early evening on Wednesday, April 22, at the lovely Beaux Arts home and garden of June and Harper Stone. From the salon, which features two beautiful French marble fireplaces, one can glimpse a lovely view of the parterre garden. Guests will enjoy strolling through the formal garden filled with Japanese boxwood, white azaleas, Italian cypress trees, yews, Needlepoint holly and Natchez crepe myrtles. Another fun ticketed event, “Flowers After Hours,” will be held on Thursday evening, April 23. This event will give guests a chance to visit one of the spectacular gardens during the twilight hours. In addition to this new event, the Garden Club of Jackson will also open its traditional gift shop, “The Secret Garden,” during the hours of the garden tour, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Thursday and Friday. All tickets to the homes and gardens, can be purchased in advance at gardenclubofjackson.com. Additionally, tickets to the garden tours will also be available at the entrance to each of the five gardens.
The Home & Garden of Randy & Paula James
The lovely Georgian home and garden of Randy and Paula James, located in Massena Heights, majestically stands atop a sloping wooded lawn. The traditional home’s interior features Country French and English furnishings were designed by interior decorator Annelle Primos. Blues and greens enhance the interior throughout the house, and large windows, framed by beautiful window treatments, offer many pleasing views of the front and back gardens. Two cozy fireplaces are popular spaces for the James family to gather on cool winter days. A welcoming kitchen and accompanying sitting area provide happy spots for the grandchildren to eat, play, and visit with their grandparents.
The James’ welcoming garden, originally created by garden designer, Susan Haltom, a member of The Garden Club of Jackson, as well as curator and garden restoration consultant for the prominent Eudora Welty Garden, greets visitors as they wind their way up the brick bordered driveway. Constructed in the mid-1990s, the James’ gardens showcase many beautiful Mississippi perennials. Flowering lantana and roses gracefully line the curving driveway as it crawls up the steep incline. The front yard of the handsome home is the epitome of a lovely Southern flower garden. The large tree dotted front landscape, framed by borders of blue and pink hydrangeas, features a lush flower garden to the right of the house, just below the screened side porch. A sprawling Oak Leaf hydrangea, looms over a lush patch of flowering tobacco and graceful ferns which nestle under the large canopy of oaks shielding the front yard. A beautiful Marie Claire blush rose greets visitors on the brick lined front walkway leading to the front door.
Additionally, a tempting flower cutting garden sits picturesquely at the top of the hill. Giant colorful foxgloves line the back of the bed while multicolored snap dragons, yellow columbine, and gorgeous white phlox, artfully accent the space. Paula notes that landscape contractors Andrew Bell and Eric Hayes, always keeping an eye out for a unique Mississippi perennial, once happened upon a glorious white phlox growing wild in a Mississippi countryside and later selected it a perfect home in the James’ garden. Now named “Minnie Pearl,” the white phlox can steal the show in a flower bed with its stark white, providing an alluring contrast to the other colorful flowers.
In the James’ back yard, two large porches, provide great entertainment areas. “Randy and I love our porches as much as our yard. They have provided great spaces for family events and parties, and also the perfect place to read the Sunday paper under the ceiling fans,” added Paula. Two large containers filled with beautiful Loquat trees grace the porch. In addition, numerous lovely planters, sporting flowering hydrangeas and mums provide breath taking spots of beauty. Cherry tomatoes, planted in handsome pots, offer healthy, fun snacks for the nine lively grandchildren as they pick and eat from the rambling tomato vines. Welcoming tables, chairs, and rockers scattered around the large porches and on the deck, provide the grandparents and parents a way to keep an eye on the progeny at play. An additional porch, off the master bedroom also provides a welcome respite and overlooks the expansive green lawn which is lined by flower beds, displaying native perennials and annuals, sometimes, unfortunately, a tasty dessert for unwelcome deer. Noting that she inherited her love of flowers from her mother who tended the neighborhood’s flower beds, Paula adds, “I like lots of color but also appreciate white blooms and different shades of green. I have planted no precious plants around this open playing area. That would make Mom cry if the children stepped on them,” she adds laughingly.
The expansive bright green grassy lawn provided great fun for the James’ three sons and their friends as they were growing up during the 1980s and 1990s. Pick-up games of football, baseball, and soccer were everyday occurrences. Now, the James’ grandchildren happily enjoy the same lush lawn that their parents once played upon. Sometimes the adults even get coerced into pick-up games too, recalling summer days when they, too, romped across the grass. Large oaks canopy a custom designed large climbing gym, complete with a slide, swings, and a treehouse, and provide needed shade during Mississippi’s hot and humid summers. Behind this playing area, a concreted basketball court offers yet more free space to engage in additional sports games.
Concerning her favorite things about her garden, Paula reflects that the two large camellias, propagated from the Welty Garden by Susan Haltom, as well as the large hydrangeas, top the list. Graciously, Paula shares bouquets of blooming hydrangeas with her friends and neighbors. She adds, “My favorite view of my garden is from my back windows in the late afternoon sun when the leaves are turning in the fall. The colors and glorious flowers and greenery make me grateful to be in this home.”
The James’ home and garden will serve as the location of the much-anticipated gift shop and the ticketed boxed lunch. The gift shop will offer unique garden items, such as containers and garden tools, for the serious gardener or for those who are looking for a clever gift for a family member or friend who enjoys gardening. “The Secret Garden” will be open each day during the same hours of the garden tours, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. In addition, a floral design, specifically created during the event, as well as lovely paintings created by garden club artists, will be for sale. Throughout the two-day garden tour, raffle tickets will be on sale and can also be purchased in advance from the website. Winners are eligible to win a flower arranging class for six people at the Everyday Gardener, offered by owner and garden club member Susie Puckett. Additionally, a raffle ticket for a beautiful painting created by garden club member Pryor Lampton can also be purchased. The delicious boxed lunch can be ordered at gardenclubofjackson.com prior to the tour and will be artfully catered once again by Primos Cafes, a generous sponsor of the garden tour. Ample outside seating on the porches and the deck, will give lunch purchasers a perfect place to rest.
The Home and Garden of Mary Ann & Anthony Petro
A short drive away, at the bottom of the Meadowbrook Road hill, in the Eastover neighborhood, reside the beautiful homes and gardens of another mother-daughter team, Mary Ann Petro and Michelle Petro Pharr, who also grew up watching her mother artfully nurture her roses, perennials, and flowering trees. Mary Ann and Anky Petro’s lovely garden, named “Swan Lake”, owns a prestigious title as the first Jackson garden to be entered on the register of the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian Institution which began as a Garden Club of America Collection. This extraordinary garden offers a unique picturesque, awe inspiring landscape, surrounded by a gorgeous lake in which graceful white swans swim and flirt with the homeowners and their guests. This peaceful garden provides alluring “eye candy” for any hopeful gardener. Its beauty caresses the appreciative soul of every single visitor. Graciously opening their garden for The Garden Club of Jackson’s 11th tour, the Petro family also hosted the garden tours in 2006 and 2012, along with other homeowners.
Like all gardens, the Petro’s Swan Lake continues to change through a series of evolutions since first designed in 1988, by landscape architect Garry Graves. By far, the intimate English garden, located on the east side of the house, and seen from the street as well, wins the prize in luring the captivated viewer. Filled with over 100 varieties of English perennials, annuals, bulbs, and roses, chosen to grow well in Mississippi, the luscious garden, sporting every color of the rainbow, provides a perfect environment for butterflies and hummingbirds and can be entered under a beautiful white archway on which a climbing rose twines. Flowering snapdragons, iris, hydrangeas, feverfew, and roses reside next to each other in perfect harmony. In addition, a white picket fence frames the welcoming space which offers a single green chair for Mary Ann to sit and gaze— that is, when she is not planting or planning the garden’s next happy addition.
Mary Ann explains, “The English garden is always evolving, changing with the seasons and with my passions!”
A herringbone designed brick walkway ambles through the English garden and leads to the multi-tiered garden overlooking the large lake, originally designed by a developer as a flood plain to control the Pearl River swampland. Four level garden decking was added in 2003 to allow for harmonious areas for plantings which provide lush backgrounds for entertaining while relaxing with friends and family. The three parterres between the decks showcase a knot garden planted with Japanese boxwood, antique roses, herbs, and bulbs. Knockout roses and camellias surround the three arched fountains.
To the west of the house, a quaint courtyard offers a welcoming space to sit in a shaded area for a meal which often yields bounty from Mary Ann’s carefully tended herbs, vegetables, wild grape vines, and blueberries which grow down a short pathway. An arch, covered with Chinese wisteria, and a trellis, covered with a pink Katrina rose, grace this area which also features a fountain and a statue. White urns overflow with flowering impatiens, snapdragons, and pansies.
Recently a new dahlia garden has been added as well as a cutting garden for her almost nine-year-old granddaughter who lives next door. Mary Ann smiles as she talks about the lavender Vitex tree which was rescued from the Baptist Hospital when all thought it was dead, except her. It thrives now, after 20 years in its new home, and aptly provides a trellis for an antique climbing rose. She also notes another change from the garden’s inception: “The two huge 40-foot junipers and two 20 foot arborvitae that framed the deck down to the lake had become so thick and bushy that you could not see the fountains in the lake from the breakfast room. Anky wanted to cut them down, but I loved the architectural element and enjoyed lighting them in the winter. We took a risk and lifted the branches up, exposing the bark and ground underneath, knowing it might look really bad and they would have to come down. It worked! He can see the fountains, and I can light the perfect Christmas trees. Sometimes you can make everyone happy,” Mary Ann exclaims.
The Home and Garden of Michelle & David Pharr
A short garden stroll down an Italian cypress lined passageway, one can find the lovely home of Mary Ann and Anky’s daughter Michelle and her husband David Pharr, whose home and garden will both be on tour. As the visitor approaches, the tall ceiling porches, floored in bluestone, the intimate heated pool with a fountain, and the red roses and border plantings seem to meld with the lake and the sky forming a very peaceful trio of colors and textures. As the house was being built in 2015, much dirt work was manipulated, and concrete and steel pilings worked toward creating a secure and beautiful backyard which slopes into a sea wall lining the lake. Built above the 500-year flood level, the Italian Palladian house majestically lords over the hillside enhanced by flower beds, walkways, and porches.
Michelle notes, “I love color and use copious amounts of pinks, purples, and whites year-round. I love bright greens because it feels fresh and happy and new. I love symmetry, and we have aimed to maintain it in our home and our yard and gardens. We have tried combinations that work, but we continue to try to add new things and come up with new ideas. I love the perennial gardens. I also love our rose topiaries, herb gardens, and our black and blue salvia which attract hummingbirds and butterflies.”
Purposefully built and tilted toward maximum light and serene lake views, the multi windowed house provides privacy and features colors ranging from light aquas to blues and greens, as if one were looking into the Caribbean Sea. The colors and textures are consistent throughout. Chandeliers grace almost every room featuring 12 to 15-foot ceilings, as well as premium oak floors and white marble. Just off the family room, a screened porch offers an outdoor kitchen with a fireplace enhancing the ambience. On the lower porch a fire pit lights the night and provides a fun, relaxing place for the family during the winter months. From these porches, as well as from the home’s interior, bird watching offers a relaxing activity for the children and parents. Egrets, cranes, herons, loons, anhingas and ducks come and go as the seasons change. The family also enjoys watching the turtles and alligators swim around the lake
“The rain is so pretty on the lake. One time during a hard rain, we had a rainbow end in our lake which was amazing,” Michelle adds smiling.
Similar to her mother’s and father’s home, Michelle and David’s home, which will be opened for the garden tour, seeks to unite the indoors with the outdoors. The floor to ceiling windows beckon the nature lover to look outside and observe the gardens and the lake. The Pharrs sought the professional help of her mother Mary Ann, who owns “Mary Ann Petro and Associates” to help coordinate the interior. Mary Ann sought to unite vibrant colors in the fabrics used in the home. Varying shades of aquas, blues, and greens provide a very pleasing environment which is enhanced by premium oak as well as five antique French white marble mantels. Beautiful floral fabrics add color and texture in the window fabrics.
Their openly designed home is constantly filled with flowers. “Flowers make me happy. We almost always have fresh flowers inside. I love the colors and smells. I love seeing and learning what works and what doesn’t,” Michelle remarks. She adds that she and David visited the floral garden of Versailles during their Paris honeymoon. In addition, their gardens employ influences from Italian villa formal gardens as well. Recently they took their children to see the gardens at the Smithsonian Institute.
The Home and Garden of Christie & George Walker
Headed back west on Meadowbrook Road, only a short distance away, the garden tour visitor can turn left on Eastover Drive to find the lovely home and garden of Christie and George Walker. Both the garden and the home will be on tour. The formal array of their well-planned garden offers a sense of peace and organizational harmony. A new event, added to the 2020 Garden Tour, is the much anticipated “Flowers After Hours” party at the Walker’s, from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. Specifically designed for those patrons coming straight from work, the new event will feature an especially created event cocktail and delectable hors d’oeuvres drawn from garden club members’ favorite recipes. Guests will be able to stroll through the formal gardens, each arrayed with lush greenery. Landscaper Greg Shaw of Southernscape LLC in Huntsville, Alabama, planted numerous understory trees and shrubs including: Bay magnolias, cleyeras, sweet olives, Limelight and Annabelle hydrangeas, and white and pink azaleas. Numerous winding flower beds, outlined with a white palette, sport caladiums and white impatiens and add definition and interest to the many garden rooms which can be used for entertaining and dining.
The Georgian garden pavilion, located directly behind the formal garden and designed by the home’s original architect Lewis Graeber, is used as a guest house and pool house. The alluring swimming pool showcases a backdrop featuring an Indiana limestone linear waterfall flanked by Lusterleaf hollies. The mostly rectangular shaped pool, designed by Tommy Draughan of CPS Pools, features unique graceful curves and is enhanced by colorful LED underwater lights which cast a beautiful glimpse upon the turquoise hydrazzo finish. An outdoor sitting area centered around a large fireplace and a nearby outdoor kitchen complement the relaxing area, enhanced by a welcoming outdoor spa. Inside the pool pavilion, a pleasing interior, designed especially for entertaining by interior designer Annelle Primos, offers a large sitting area graced by soft, light colors, particularly light blue, which creates an elegant, calming feeling. The use of indoor/outdoor materials on the contemporary furniture adds to the comfort and durability for swimmers, as well as furry family pets. Handsome handcrafted wood and iron tables are interspersed with interesting antiques. The unique dining room chairs are made of natural seagrass tied with lampakanai rope. A painted wood ceiling in the main room features major beams crossing in one direction with purlin beams running perpendicular while wide painted beaded boards cover the walls. Real scored stucco enhances the exterior of the pavilion, and a glass dome, made in England, sits over the fascinating octagonal pavilion entry. In addition, gorgeous classical English inspired oval windows flank the front door of the pavilion which is placed on centerline with the front door of the main house. One can look straight through the front door of the main house, past the majestic fountain to glimpse the pavilion.
The Walker’s main house, which will also be on tour during the day on Thursday and Friday, April 23 and 24, features Irish Georgian architecture which is enhanced by southern American influences. A beautiful winding staircase graces the formal entrance hall. Large windows on the back of the house provide a pleasing view of the perfectly symmetrical parterre garden, originally designed by landscape architect Garry Graves, featuring 12 sculptured topiaries surrounding a classical antique fountain. Crushed lava rock lines the walkways of the formal garden.
The Home and Garden of Polly & Bo Bourne
Finally, the fifth garden on tour rests near the top of the hill on Lake Circle, just off Ridgewood Road. The delicately designed cutting garden of Polly and Bo Bourne gives visitors a glimpse into the joys and advantages of a smaller garden. A once frustrated, sun deprived potential gardener, Polly explains, “I wanted a garden, but I had no sun. I had an idea that if I could get some land adjacent to my back yard, then I would find sun.” Three years ago, she made a call to Covenant Presbyterian Church to ask if she could “borrow” some sun-drenched ground, since several dead pine trees were being cut down. The welcomed and resounding answer was: “Yes!” Hence, Polly’s longtime dream emerged. She had sun, so she set out to design her dream come true with the help of aforementioned landscape designer Andrew Bell.
From the beginning of Polly’s garden in January 2017, the evolution has been interesting and fun. She notes, “I initially planted several David Austin roses because I loved the beauty of the rose and the fragrances. I began filling it with perennials and annuals bought from stores and planting seeds. The most meaningful plants came from gardeners who shared with me plants from their gardens. I learned early on, the joy in sharing the fruits of one’s labor.”
The lovely cutting garden, including Swamp sunflowers, coneflowers, blue sage, and black eyed Susans, among others, in Polly’s words, contains “whimsical, colorful, and happy” flowers and plants. Winding fig vine artfully climbs up a statue of St. Fiacre, while Maiden Hair fern graces its base. Other alluring hardscaping features dot the garden. A most interesting focal point exists in the cascading 10-foot-tall “Little Volcano” shrub dotted with tiny purple flowers. “Mixing various colors and heights, I try to balance between flowers and fillers that can be cut and what will look good in my garden.” She adds that she has planted mostly perennials and has left spaces to experiment with annuals. In addition, Polly notes that for a couple of years, she tried planting vegetables but found that they did not give her as much joy. She does, however, have several blackberry bushes, and her herb garden abounds with mint, lemon balm, parsley, basil, thyme, and rosemary.
In summary, Polly says, “I started the garden to be a garden of ‘good works.’ I never thought about whether I would enjoy it. Thankfully, I have fallen in love with gardening. I love the beauty of it, the quiet sanctuary, the simplicity and all the rewards of getting your hands dirty. I have discovered so many tangible and intangible gifts and lessons. I witness on a daily basis God’s hand in nature. I am forever grateful to Covenant who generously gave me this opportunity. I recognize it could never have been possible without them.”