June Garden of the Month
Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a short harbor cruise to enjoy the sights of our neighborhood. When our boat rounded the bend at Tartan Inlet, we were awestruck at the most beautiful yard covered with waist high field flowers as far as the eye can see. The amazing sight told us that we just had to find this house by land. When we arrived at 242 Roanoke Drive, there were hundreds of flowers, with a likeness of Monet’s Garden, in all shades of pink, purple, blue, and white.
We couldn’t wait to get out of the car and find out who the imaginative creator of this garden was. Crossing the yard was a man carrying a small ladder. The moment we identified ourselves as the Yard of the Month committee, the man’s face lit up and he piped, “ Oh! My wife has been waiting for you! Stay right here I’ll go in and get her out of the shower!” What a reception!
It was such a treat to meet Ann Williams next as we admired the expansive yard of three plus lots and 27 years worth of Williams’ family effort. I asked if the flowers were Lupines which bloom in paste colors along the New England coastline.
“Oh my! No!” said Ann with a grin, “They are a mix of Larkspur, Bachelor Buttons, Fox Glove and Poppies.”
“Did she plant those every year?” I asked.
“ I don’t have to…. they are self-seeding now, but if you look hard, you can see the 100 roses I have planted. They’ll bloom next when the field flowers finish. Every month is a different show!” she added.
Not many people can rifle off plant names like a botany professional, but Ann Williams can. Boy did she as we passed by canna, carnations,duxia, lillies, hollyhocks,daisies, dianthus, allysum, acanthus, bear’s breeches, hydrangea, hyacinth bean, moon flowers, celadon, sedums, spotted leopard, money plant (lunaria), passion flower and primrose. At that point, she stopped identifying species to say “Oh that needs watering” or “Oh my… that needs weeding,” and snag a weed quickly. I never saw so many different perennials in one place.
We passed by an unusual tree whose boughs hung over the deck off the kitchen. I looked up and saw her son, Dillon, standing over us. Dillon, 23, a recent graduate of Guilford College, explained to us that the tree was a Bay tree. “It was my job when I was little to pick a leaf off it every time she made beef stew, and I’m still helping her.”
On one side of the yard was a sunny vegetable garden with straight rows of carrots, appropriate mounds for squash, zucchini, and cucumber vines on the fence. Just beyond that I noticed an unusual plant with a bright red stem. As I bent to pick it, she quickly warned me, “Be careful! That’s castor bean! It’s very poisonous.” That cured me of any more invasive plucking I can assure you. After that we were relieved to see a very tranquil herb garden of sorrel, oregano, sage and parsley nestled among asparagus and blueberry bushes. There was, also, beautiful yellow fennel, a perennial with feathery leaves and broad delicate blooms.
That’s what makes this garden so unique. It has so much variety that it’s in continuous bloom almost all year. Since 1987, she has been gardening here with the help of her family. “I get help from Mother Nature too,” she said. “The winds and birds will deposit these seeds everywhere. Even bad weather can work in our favor sometimes. See those grapevines over there along the back fence?” she asked us. “Hurricane Irene deposited them there and they have been happy ever since!” Along the walkway was a bed of lantana with some stray echinacea that needed weeding out. “A good garden means work everyday,” she added. Ann Williams is no stranger to hard work, she grew up on her daddy’s farm.
Her garden is, also, a mix of whimsy and purpose. As we walked along the pathway we noticed actual Papyrus, an ancient plant species that was used to make paper in Eygpt, growing in an old bullfrog pond. We looked up into a nearby tree and saw an old chandelier she moved from the house replacing the electric lights with solar ones. By the driveway was a dead tree, to which I asked her what happened. “Oh that’s just a dead cherry tree we use. It gives the moon-flowers something to climb on each year. You need to come back next month and see it, when the roses, hydrangeas, ruellia, and gaillardia bloom!”
Thanks for the invitation Ann. We’ll be sure to look your way, every time we make a harbor cruise in all seasons.
Photo by: Sue Colter
Story by: Beth Knight Brown
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