Glenda Grant grew up thinking the word “garden” referred to that spot in the yard where her parents grew tomatoes, peas and squash. And she tried to stay out of it. She thought the outside was just a place to play ball with her brother and cousins, not a place to dig and weed and hoe.
But as an adult, she learned to appreciate and nurture shrubs, flowers, and trees, and began creating a different kind of garden for her own enjoyment — and as an outlet for her creativity.
“I always like being outdoors,” she says. I like the sun. And if I’m out, might as well do something constructive.
At first glance, Glenda’s home inside the town of Jackson appears to be traditional suburban stucco with porch columns and stacked rock steps. The house is framed by southern shrubs including gardenia, yew, hydrangea and holly. But go deeper into Glenda’s backyard and you’re surrounded by vivid stories, whimsy, and handmade accents.
Like most owner-designed/owner-dug gardens, Glenda’s beds and vignettes reflect her life and personality: Here is a bed flanked at one end by a metal seat salvaged from Jackson’s old football stands Highschool. There is a vine ladder made from its old bridge railings. Here is a small trellis made from twigs with a hot glue gun. There’s a yard sale ceramic bear stuck in the fork of a river birch.
Its largest garden bed is a border of perennials that curves along its back lawn. It contains small trees, shrubs and perennials and is bounded by old bricks. Glenda stacked all the bricks herself, and even these old moss-covered bricks have their own story:
“In the 1980s, I became good friends with Kenny and Sandra Thurston,” Glenda said. “Every time I went to visit Sandra she would dig me up some of her flowers, but when I got home I had no place to plant them, so I started making flowerbeds I liked it, so I made more and more and surrounded the beds with old bricks. When I moved to Jackson from Indian Springs, I moved all my bricks with me. , nearly 700 of them, one brick at a time, one wagon at a time.
Over the years, Glenda has exchanged plants, bulbs and cuttings from friends. She can tell you who gave her which iris, amaryllis or mahonia. She can tell you where she dug up the daffodils. Many years ago, the late Elena Carter rooted a cutting of The Fairy Rose in Glenda. Glenda also moved him from his old home in Indian Springs and is now raising a baby nearby to give to Mrs. Carter’s daughter, Gail McLaurin.
The day I visited Glenda in her yard, she pointed out the blooming Fairy Rose bush and then the snake that lives in that particular garden bed. Nestled under Mrs. Carter’s rose, huddled next to a coiled black garden hose was Glenda’s king snake. His yellow stripes were all that made him visible on this cool early spring day.
“I’m glad I have him. I try not to disturb him,” Glenda said. “Usually he stays here in this bed. If he’s on one end, I’m just working on the other King snakes eat insects, rodents, and other snakes, including poisonous snakes.
Glenda moved from Gresston, Georgia to Indian Springs when she married Skeeter Grant in 1966. They met while servicing aircraft at Robins Air Force Base. The attention to detail and care required to work on aircraft taught Glenda to be precise and patient in all of her creative endeavours.
Eventually, Glenda and her friends Sandra and Kenny Thurston joined the Dauset Trails staff.
“I loved working at Dauset, and it’s where Sandra and I studied to become master gardeners,” she said.
Glenda earned her Master Gardener certificate from the University of Georgia Extension Service, completing her required community service hours at Dauset Trails and other Jackson sites. She has maintained her certification for ten years, but has not renewed her certification recently. However, his knowledge of plants and their needs is still at mastery level. And more importantly, she is still using UGA Extension Service Bulletins and always learning new things.
“I’ve studied all the gardening books in our local library and love Pinterest for ideas. But I usually switch things up a bit,” she said.
“Lately I’ve been trying to make my yard more deer resistant. I used to buy plants that I liked and that matched the conditions, but often deer would eat my new flowers and shrubs pretty quickly – sometimes the same evening after I planted them, so I started learning deer-resistant gardening.
“Now I take my extension service handout that shows which plants are deer resistant when I go to the nursery. But I know deer will eat anything if they’re hungry.
Glenda also loves container gardening, for three reasons.
“Sometimes I can put things under the trees if they are in pots, even if there are too many roots to plant things in the ground, and you can move the plants into pots when you need them. or as you wish.”
But above all, she loves large containers. She searches for real estate sales and is happy to find a cheap container – or something she can turn into a container. She cleans them, or paints them, or repairs the dents, or glues them. Finally, unique pots and stately urns contain flourishing plants. She even paints new clay pots with lime water to give them an old look.
Each garden featured on the Art of the Garden Tour will feature a local artist performing, demonstrating or selling and explaining their work. It seems fitting that local artist Suzanne Allison is at Glenda’s garden to demonstrate and show off some of her brightly painted pots.
Glenda plans a short scavenger hunt for children who visit her garden. She plans to hide items in her garden, hand out clues, and give a penny prize or sticker to those who find all of the hidden items.
“Just for fun,” she said, “and if they want to.”
Glenda’s garden and five others will be open for viewing May 9-3 May 21, rain or shine. Tickets for the Garden Art Tour are $20 and can be purchased at the Jackson-Butts County Library, Golden Lion Farm, Collier Greenhouse and Garden Center, Mark’s Lawn and Garden, and online at Buttschamber.com for a small additional charge.
Proceeds from the Art of the Garden Tour will support the Arts Council Fellowship and the Butts County Permanent Collection.
Art of the Garden Tour sponsors include Dauset Trails; ITM outside; Smith, Welch, Webb & White; Whitaker Builders & Supply; AWI trucking; southern ready mix; Mrs. Elizabeth Carter; the gardens of the Wilson brothers; A scarlet thread; Adams-Brisco Seed Company; Collier’s Greenhouse & Garden Center; and Milam Décor The Rabbit’s Nest).