Don't miss Music of Spring Garden Tour

Posted 5/20/18

The 2018 Music of Spring Garden Tour will be presented by the Sumter Council of Garden Clubs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 26. Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the Swan Lake Visitor's Center in Sumter from May 20 through 26 …

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Don't miss Music of Spring Garden Tour


The 2018 Music of Spring Garden Tour will be presented by the Sumter Council of Garden Clubs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 26. Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the Swan Lake Visitor's Center in Sumter from May 20 through 26 or at each home on the day of the tour. For more information, call Julie Jameson at (706) 338-0163.

Five home gardens are included in Saturday's tour. They are:

Loch Hall

J. Grady Locklear

214 W. Calhoun St.

Built before the turn of the 20th century by Henry Belser, 214 W. Calhoun has had five owners. Purchased by J. Grady Locklear in 1979 and named Loch Hall as a tribute to his Scottish name and ancestry, the home boasts a magnificent English garden created by Locklear over the past 39 years. The garden is filled with surprises, functions as a heritage and personal garden and contains classic sculptures, pottery and other artistic works crafted by well-known gifted artisans.

To frame and complement the front of Loch Hall, Grady created a Greek Revival English Garden. He repaired the front porch floor and repaired brick pathways after Hurricane Hugo's 1989 destruction, replaced American boxwood around the porch and repurposed a 100-plus-year-old metal fence found in McColl, his childhood home area. The fence encircles the property, blending perfectly.

The front of the home is flanked by Galloway Urns, reproductions from the Biltmore Mansion, planted with seasonal white flowers. Grady planted Harlandi boxwood by the fence, and a tea olive, Little Gem magnolias, weeping yaupons and an old found rose that he propagated add to the charm of the front area. On the porch, visitors may view the peaceful front section from the swing or on a wrought iron "Sumter Bench" made by Sumter Machinery. Two reproductions of old watering troughs from the Biltmore estate contain seasonal plantings.

Grady defines his English garden as one that "forever has something blooming during the year." Hundreds of plants and shrubs, some of which are "pass along" ones from friends and family, abound in strategic and/or "surprise areas" in the garden.

Interspersed among the botanical gems are historic and classical pieces of garden art, also. A few examples of historic pieces are a cell door from the original jail in Camden where Andrew Jackson was imprisoned before he became president, ship bells, a bench made from refuse stone from the old Sumter Post Office, a 100-plus-year-old round window with stained glass, mill stones, the keystone from Grady's former high school in McColl, an original 1871 ladder from a water tower in McColl, balls that are reproduced from the original ones at Stonehenge and a stone mantel from Rose Hill Plantation that Grady made into a bench. The classical reproductions include simulated statues and pottery with faces of the Greek goddess of winter, The Three Graces, Bacchus, Hebe, Demeter and Ophelia, among others.

Of special note are the many artistic works made by gifted artisans. Grady has commissioned Phil Tuggle to create several artistic pieces. He worked with an old water wheel from a Scotland County mill to create a pleasing piece of art. Other old farm equipment pieces including wagon wheel rims and disc blades have been transformed into art to preserve Grady's family's history. Other commissioned artisans include Philip Simmons from Charleston, Grayson Russell, Mark Gardener and former students. There are numerous rose trellises, 20-plus birdhouses, wooden crosses, sculptures and a variety of other garden pieces attributed to artists, also.

Two special features in Grady's garden may be enjoyed best while sitting on nearby shaded benches. The Secret Garden, tucked behind the Carriage House, is a quiet spot, perfect for reading or meditation. The backyard's centerpiece is a fountain with "Wild Flower" as the focus. This water feature is surrounded by bricks from Grady's former high school in McColl and boxwood.

He spends many outdoor hours on his back porch, where everything on and around it has a memory of something his friends have given him and of the many people in his life.

Debbie and Joe Jackson

403 N. Purdy St.

Built in 1929, the house on 403 N. Purdy St. was intended to look like a Cotswold, English-styled house because Mrs. Zemp, a second-grade teacher, loved this type of architecture. Mr. and Mrs. Zemp purchased refuse bricks, which were then laid using the extruded concrete style. The Zemps landscaped their garden with flower beds filled with plants such as azaleas, foxgloves, iris and lilies of the valley, and they named the garden "Lovely Corners."

In 1990, Debbie and Joe Jackson bought the home. They try to maintain the historical architecture of the original house as well as many of the original plantings. For example, Joe has replaced shutters on the house but has maintained the cutout designs on them. Likewise, Joe and Debbie have had to enlarge, change and move established flower beds and plants but have preserved the azaleas, bulbs and self-seeded plants that date back to the earlier homeowners' plant preferences and landscape designs.

"We have never intentionally destroyed bulbs that may be from the original plantings," Joe said. The large Lady Banks rose, which is spectacular during spring blooming, was planted by J. Grady Locklear and grows on an arbor that Grady built but that Joe has maintained.

Building upon "good bones" from past gardening endeavors, Joe and Debbie have created new areas in their gardens, also. Joe is a hybridizer of daylilies, so he has created large daylily beds that include tiger lilies. They have preserved and planted a rose bush by a side door that was from the home of Joe's mother, Ruth Jackson, on Maplewood.

Joe and Debbie have also created brick walkways that meander through the garden, added a fish pond particularly enjoyed by neighborhood children, and embellished their garden setting with bird baths, statuary, a bottle tree, birdhouses and plants such as gerbera daisies and hostas. They have recently updated a driveway lined with hydrangeas. Near Joe's work shed, he has created space for a vegetable and rooting garden in raised beds that he maintains.

Bryan and Beth DuRant

221 Idle Lake Court

In 2008 Bryan and Beth began to landscape their undeveloped land at 221 Idle Lake Court. Drawn to the property's setting, the DuRants can see and enjoy the diverse wildlife, particularly water birds including geese, wood ducks, cranes, blue herons, and white ducks. The hard work over 10 years and the careful planning have earned both Bryan and Beth a show place with an ideal, expansive garden near the lake.

In the front yard, free form islands are lined with hand-crafted, etched concrete edging. A few large native stones anchor the beds with one bed featuring a Japanese pagoda situated near a lovely Japanese maple. Inside the beds, a variety of trees are planted to accentuate their shapes and colors. Japanese maples, a weeping cherry, a flame maple, the eucalyptus tree, a weeping yaupon, crepe myrtles, and a weeping spruce add interest and beauty. Additionally, filler plants such as azaleas, annuals, and perennials are artfully arranged for form and beauty. Outside the island beds, stand-alone trees such as an ash tree and a tulip poplar provide beauty and shade.

Near the front door, the Knock Out roses, a fountain, and two camellias have been trained to hug the wall (espaliered).

The newest features to the DuRants' garden are the wrought iron gates Bryan adorned with blue herons that he created, the six-foot tall wall that extends to the water's edge, and a variety of new garden art. Beside the wall is a wide flower bed planted with an assortment of perennials and annuals. In addition, Bryan and Beth have added sculptures by William McKenney from Saluda, including a nine-foot tall "Wind Spirit." Other art work includes sculptures by Phil Tuggle from Sumter and works made by students in Central Carolina's 2016 welding class. Bryan's birdhouses, the flower cart, and over 90 hanging baskets showcase his creative and artistic abilities.

Many of Bryan and Beth's plants have personal meaning to them. For instance, they have used plants from their families' yards and properties by air layering and growing camellias from seed. Bryan has created a camellia hedge made from camellias from Aline McIntosh's land (Beth's mother's land) in Lee County as well as Bryan's family farm, the Shudwe farm.

Bryan has used family antiques as art and functional garden materials. For example, Bryan's father's saddle rack has been converted into a holder for flower containers and his father's abandoned large cast-iron syrup pot that was made to hold sugar cane so it could be boiled down to make syrup has been repurposed to become a flower container.

In the last 10 years, Beth and Bryan have created a simply gorgeous garden.

Kim and Eric Reisenauer

19 Mood Ave.

The Reisenauers' home, built in 1937, has an inviting front porch enclosed by four large brick arches. Originally, the home sat on a small lot but Kim and Eric recently purchased the next-door property, removed an existing house, and enlarged their garden area to include an athletic field used and loved by their sons and their friends in the neighborhood.

Kim maintains a small vegetable garden set off by painted bricks near the front walkway. She says that walkers enjoy pausing to speak to her as they admire and inspect the growing vegetables. More traditional trees and plants frame the rest of the home's front area including crepe myrtles, boxwoods, roses, azaleas, cannas, hydrangeas, and daylilies.

To enter the backyard, one must go through the allee being formed by the crepe myrtles.

Upon entering the back area, a tall, inviting tree house has chairs and other home comforts for kids and adventurous adults who want to climb it. Below, Kim and Eric have created raised beds with traditional vegetables as well as other vegetables such as asparagus. They have also planted blueberries. Of special note are the straw bales in which traditional vegetables are growing and thriving as if planted in the ground. Away from the garden, a moveable chicken coop houses two happy hens who are delighted to have fresh new grass each day.

To the left of the garden, a flagstone patio and fire pit welcome family members and guests. Eric discovered that the bricks were made by R. M. Stork in Columbia, circa 1936, so he salvaged them from the house that was torn down on the property they bought. A new art feature by the fire pit is the Michael Duffy Head given to Kim and Eric as a thank you gift. In addition, birdhouses and a permanent chicken coop enliven the rest of the back area.

The back porch is filled with herbs for a traditional kitchen garden, and the side garden where guests leave is lined with lace cap and mop head hydrangeas, ferns, hostas, azaleas, and camellias. Exiting through the large "Black Arch" built by Eric, guests will return to the front area.

Epperson Home

424 W. Calhoun St.

The house was built in 1930 by the McDonald family. In the 1950s, Paula's mother and father, Francis and Julia Epperson, purchased the house, and, as Paula says, this is the home in which she has lived all of her life. Originally made of brick, the exterior of the house and the front brick coping were covered with stucco in 1981. The front yard is the only home on Calhoun Street with a raised lawn.

Paula is a do-it-yourself gardener and landscaper. With a few exceptions, she has planted almost everything in her front and back garden, built Charleston birdhouses, a variety of trellises, and planters. Unafraid of hard labor, Paula has laid stone and brick pathways as well as hand dug islands that she landscaped throughout her gardens.

The backyard garden may be described as an outdoor space filled with seven individual garden rooms in which visitors can sit and enjoy the vista. Paula has named one section of the garden The Secret Garden. Tucked away in a quiet place, it contains shade tolerant plants with a seating area and a small stone patio area that she created. Going around the garden perimeter, visitors discover that each garden room is somewhat similar but different. Toward the back of the garden, Paula has a custom-built gazebo where she now can sit and admire her garden paradise. Each area contains plants such as hostas, Shasta daisies, asters, cannas, hydrangeas, statuary, obelisks with climbing roses, trellises, hand-forged iron bird feeders, azaleas, daylilies, birdbaths and lanterns. Many of the plants are pass-along-flowering plants given to Paula from friends in the garden club.

Throughout Paula's garden, she has strategically placed planters in the shape of human heads. She has also planted trees as well as large and small shrubs used as focal points or shade resources. Crepe myrtles, 'Sunshine' Ligustrum, 'Bloodgood' Japanese Maples, and camellias - all contribute to the exquisite garden. Paula is a master gardener who has created an extraordinary garden.