Diversity abounds on garden tour
by Sally Litchfield
May 04, 2013 11:25 PM | 3031 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Steve and Nancy Steele smile on the porch of their Marietta home last year. The Steele's backyard features a garden and gazebo. There is a full sun border of perennials and annuals around the backyard swimming pool and a full sun container garden in the rear courtyard.
Steve and Nancy Steele smile on the porch of their Marietta home last year. The Steele's backyard features a garden and gazebo. There is a full sun border of perennials and annuals around the backyard swimming pool and a full sun container garden in the rear courtyard.
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Jill  MacMillan and her son, Ed, are ready to throw open the counterweighted gate at the entrance to their Kennesaw home garden. The garden features peach and apple trees, along with grape arbors and a host of wild flowers.
Jill MacMillan and her son, Ed, are ready to throw open the counterweighted gate at the entrance to their Kennesaw home garden. The garden features peach and apple trees, along with grape arbors and a host of wild flowers.
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Tom and Carole Caras fill one of many birdfeeders in their backyard gardens to invite all that Mother Nature has to offer at their Kennesaw country home. <br> Staff/Todd Hull
Tom and Carole Caras fill one of many birdfeeders in their backyard gardens to invite all that Mother Nature has to offer at their Kennesaw country home.
Staff/Todd Hull
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An tin rooster sits in a flower bed of Cheddar Pinks and Dwarf Gardenia in the backyard garden of Jill and Ed  MacMillan's Kennesaw home. Staff/Kelly J. Hull
An tin rooster sits in a flower bed of Cheddar Pinks and Dwarf Gardenia in the backyard garden of Jill and Ed MacMillan's Kennesaw home. Staff/Kelly J. Hull
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A bullfrog that Carole Caras named ‘Homer,’ peeks out from under the lily pads in her water garden.
A bullfrog that Carole Caras named ‘Homer,’ peeks out from under the lily pads in her water garden.
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The Steele's backyard features a pool, whirlpool spa and gazebo.
The Steele's backyard features a pool, whirlpool spa and gazebo.
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Go get your walking shoes. It’s time to stroll through the Garden Gate Tour. The Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County present their annual garden tour on May 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Five private gardens and two public gardens will be on tour. “The private gardens are all diverse. They are all established gardens,” said tour Chair Jack Riggenbach.

A Master Gardener, Riggenbach is retired from an environmental engineering firm. He lives in east Cobb with his wife, Geu. They have three grown sons and one granddaughter.

Gardens range from a cottage garden to a farm-like garden with acreage and animals, fruit tree orchards, vineyards and ornamentals to tri-level gardens with conifers.

“There’s a lot of diversity,” he said.

A Garden Faire and Plant Sale, 662 S. Cobb Drive in Marietta, is also featured from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’ve got some really different items there this year,” Riggenbach said.

The garden tour is the sole fundraiser of the Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County, a nonprofit organization. The Master Gardener program was established in 1980 by the Cobb Extension Service and sponsored by UGA Cooperative Extension Service. All Master Gardeners participate in rigorous UGA research-based training to become a Master Gardener.

The garden tour is one avenue of carrying out the Master Gardener’s mission to provide horticultural education to the public and membership.

“The public is exposed to different ways we do things and how we overcome obstacles so they might learn from that,” Riggenbach said.

Seven-hundred and fifty people attended the garden tour last year that benefits the 17 projects of Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County including rose gardens at Smith Gilbert Gardens, several community gardens, Butterfly Gardens at Chattahoochee Nature Center and Camp Elementary garden.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of tour. Tickets can be purchased at any garden on tour or Garden Faire and Plant Sale. Buy tickets in advance at cobbmastergardeners.org or in person at Cobb County Extension Office.

Gardens as described by The Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County tour brochure:

The Vanderbilt Garden

935 Cornwall Court Marietta 30060

A garden 18 years in the making, Courtenay gave her front yard a facelift to make way for more blooming plants. A hillside of ivy was replaced with a new rock wall. Not being a fan of turf grass, she replaced turf with a ‘lawn’ of miniature mondo grass. Passing through the white ‘LadyBanks’ rose arbor at the end of the driveway, perennials give way to a tall canopy of deciduous trees. Native and naturalized plants create a tapestry of green amid pathways leading to a peaceful man-made pond with a cascading waterfall.

The Sanstead Garden

400 Church Street Marietta 30060

Katie has created an English style garden that doubles as a fairytale wonderland for her granddaughters. Flowering shrubs, trees, and annuals border the cobblestone drive and walkways. A dogwood growing through the deck creates an umbrella of blooms in the spring and a shower of blossoms in the fall. Dappled light penetrates a thick canopy of pecan and chestnut trees where ornamentals provide food and shelter for wildlife. A pollinator garden attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to the 1940’s cottage. Take a stroll through this Fairytale garden and you’ll wish you were five again!

Jill and Ed MacMillan Garden

657 Old Mountain Road Marietta 30064

Sustainability and self-sufficiency are the goals of Jill and Ed MacMillan, the mother/son team at Hitching Post Farm. Neighborhood “sharecroppers” crop, share and learn together while tending a half-acre vegetable garden. Horses and chickens provide the manure composted with a forced-air system to eliminate hand turning while a deep well provides water for the DIY irrigation system. In front are an orchard and vineyard filled with wildflowers and protected by deer and rabbit fencing. In the back yard patio are perennials, flowering shrubs and trees for year-round, low-maintenance beauty.

The Caras Garden

1090 Old Mountain Road Kennesaw 30152

Tom and Carole have spent thirty years developing eight acres of unique gardens bordering Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park. On the property are beautiful perennial beds, a water feature with lotus, extraordinary daylily borders, areas of native plants and wildflowers and a rose garden. This mountain retreat mere miles from Atlanta is also a bird sanctuary, Treasury Forest, Natural Wildlife Habitat as well as home to “Tom’s Arboretum” where he has demonstrated that one can grow trees, usually from seeds, from the United States and many other countries.

The Steele Garden

315 Kennesaw Avenue Marietta 30060

Nancy lives in the historic Talley-Turner home (c. 1890) once occupied by Mary Myrtle, founder of the first garden club in Marietta. The current landscape was designed so that something is blooming in all seasons. There is a full sun border of perennials and annuals around the backyard swimming pool and a full sun container garden in the rear courtyard. Also in back are small rose and herb gardens. In front are another perennial garden as well as an annual shade border and the “Secret Garden.”

PUBLIC GARDENS:

The Root House

145 Denmead Street Marietta 30060

The Root House was built on Lemon Street around 1845 by Mr. William Root who opened the first pharmacy in Marietta. 145 years later it was moved to its present location and became the Root House Museum and Garden. Although there is no record of what the Root family grew around their home, every effort has been extended to make the property look like a 19th century garden with many of the medicinal herbs that were the basis for medicines then, decorative plants of the period and vegetables grown using heirloom seeds.

North Marietta Community Garden

461 Allgood Road Marietta 30060

This year-old community garden is a partnership with Marietta City Schools, Cobb Head Start, Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County and Keep Marietta Beautiful. The mission is to bring a culturally diverse neighborhood together. Neighborhood families lease garden plots (Enabling beds are available for disabled gardeners) and Master Gardener volunteers help participants grow their own food. Located in back of Allgood School, it is also an outdoor classroom for Head Start preschoolers where they learn to grow healthy food.
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