By Dottie Dewberry For the WPT
Gardens … should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves. ~H.E. Bates, a Love of Flowers
COLUMBUS — On March 20, the Gallivanting Gals of the Maben Home and Garden Club took to the road in a convoy of cars headed to Columbus to tour the fabulous gardens and greenhouses of Carl Hogan. After a brief stop at the Front Door/Back Door for a quick lunch, the ladies headed out for Holly Hills in north Columbus, searching for the elusive home of Carl Hogan. After three turns, they drove up the steep driveway to an impressive home but a more impressive garden. As far as the eye could see were humongous flowering shrubs: Azaleas, crabapples, cherry, dogwood, Eastern redbud, forsythia, loropetalum, Saucer magnolia, Pinxtar flowers (wild azaleas: white, yellow, pink), quince, rhododendron, spiraeas (bridal wreath) and white flowering yaupons. I am sure I missed some. Then the ladies ventured through the greenhouse where the orchids reside. There they saw the waterfall feature, complete with goldfish. The place was covered to the ceiling with huge tropical plants, among which were various colors of orchids. We were told that through a power outage years back, many of the specimens were lost, but when the weather warms up sufficiently, the remaining hothouse plants will be placed around the garden. One particular specimen was already on display outside on the flagstone patio: the Harry Lauder Walking Stick. “This shrub reaches a height of 8’-10’, with a similar spread. The flowers of Harry Lauder’s walking stick are yellowish-brown “catkins,” as on pussy willows http://landscaping.about.com/cs/ hedgesfences/a/pussy_willows.htm> . The blooms appear in early to middle spring. However, this shrub is not grown primarily for its blooms but for its unusual branching pattern, which is indicated by its other common names: corkscrew filbert and contorted hazelnut. Its branches contort themselves in every which way, resembling corkscrews (Internet).” Out behind the home was an awe-inspiring vista: curvaceous retaining walls of various kinds of stonework; broad, winding pathways of flagstone from Alabama; steps up to a private hot tub; paths down to secluded dining areas; various altitudes of spaces for nude statues and huge glossy urns; multiple mulched beds of flowering shrubs and small trees; but the most awe-inspiring of all was the kidney-shaped flagstone pool complete with grotto and lights. It is beyond description. Mr. Hogan told of building a road into the interior of the back yard so the three 18-wheeler loads of flagstone could be brought to the site of construction. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he told us that he and a group of MSU landscape design students did all the building. It took 18 months to complete this particular project. Soon the hillside was covered with gaily dressed ladies moving in all directions, snapping pictures of the flora; looking to their hearts content at all the Carl Hogan’s Garden had to offer. The most interesting tale of all was that all of the mechanics of the garden are operated with a remote control — how like a man!! I wouldn’t lie to you. It was fabulous. I just loved it all. After the group assembled, VP Anne Earnest called on Dottie Dewberry to introduce the afternoon speaker, Hogan, who spoke about some of the trials of building the pool, the pathways and plateaus of his garden — his dream. Before the tour, the ladies congregated in the large living room for a brief business meeting, which was presided over by Earnest. The minutes were read and approved. The financial statement was given by Jackie Christopher. The Yard of the Month sign was placed by Jimmie Cooper in the yard of George and Margaret Snell. It was reported that the two new library signs have been placed appropriately on MS Hwy 15. The memorial plaque has been placed with Ms. Cotton Sanders’ memorial tree. Sandra Bishop reported on the trip to the MSU Rose Garden set for April 17. Dewberry reported that she was meeting with a representative of the Department of Transportation on March 21 to begin the procedure to get permission to do a planting on MS Hwy15. The bird committee chairman, Polly Miller, handed out flower seed packets and instructed the ladies to plant the seeds so the birds will have something to eat later. Christopher and Dewberry were both to serve as volunteers this year at the Garden Expo in Starkville on March 24. According to the bylaws, the club is to vote on the new officers for the upcoming year; Christopher presented the slate of officers for 2012-13: President-Earnest, Vice-President-Jane Collins, Secretary- Dewberry and Treasurer-Christopher. With a motion by Suretha Brooks and a second by Pat Harpole, the club elected the slate as read. The new officers will be installed at the May meeting. The last order of business was the door prizes, which were donated by Kay Lewis and Lorelei Morgan, who treated four lucky ladies to them before the meeting was adjourned, and the tour began.