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Every garden dances to a rhythm we design

About two weeks ago, while attending the American Conifer Society meeting in Athens, Georgia; I had the pleasure of touring gardens surrounding the home of Vince Dooley, retired University of Georgia football coach.
Upon entering the garden we saw several weeping trees.
“As a coach, there were many days I came home weeping,” Dooley replied. “And it was soothing to have some trees weeping along with me.”
I took many photos of his gardens, providing an enormous selection of garden art of all types including a carved UGA bulldog face with the body of a football player.
His gardens have a huge assortment of plants, trees and small raised beds of vegetables. We spent an hour walking the large garden of mature plants, many of which were exceptional and rare.
There was an underlying conversation of, “What is that plant? I wonder how hardy it is, and will it grow in full sun?”
Most plants grew under tall trees, providing filtered shade for the plants below. Huge tall pines dotted the garden. Leaves and pine needles provided mulch everywhere.
Upon retiring, Dooley decided to study horticulture, so he took a class, taught by Dr. Michael Dirr, noted plantsman, professor, writer, and award winner.
Many plants in Dooley’s garden came from Dr. Dirr, who claimed they were “throw-aways” from his garden.
The swimming pool and pool house were unique in the use of artwork in the garden. Perched on the low wall dividing the wading pool from the main pool, was the figure of a young girl stretched out on her stomach, reading.
Art, simple and quiet, speaks to everyone.
Statuary is sprinkled throughout the garden, arranged to be viewed through greenery covering an arch, located at the end of a path, or simply looking at us when rounding a corner.
Some tall, some short, many objects were people or animals. Other garden art included flower pots of all shapes, sizes and colors that were arranged in clusters or rows.
Many pots were positioned along one side of the pool and planted with a variety of plants, old and new, large and small.
What do we learn from such a garden?
We learn that every garden dances to a rhythm we design.
The rhythm may be a loud march, sprightly waltz, or cacophony of all beats and sounds combined.
In our designs we tiptoe through the tulips while marching to different drummers. All gardens are quiet, loud, exciting, soothing, restful — and always beautiful.
Whatever we design, we have a rare treat knowing it is our personal design, and if we decide to change it we will. The fun and happiness of a garden, whether an acre or a large flower pot with some flowers and a vegetable or herb, comes from planning with our hearts, planting with plants we love, harvesting with joy, and preserving with caring, while always sharing with others.
It doesn’t matter who we are, or what we do, we love our gardens and appreciate the gardens of others.
Happy Gardening Everyone!
Jeanne Cope is a Garden Writer and UT Lifetime Master Gardener. E-mail her at [email protected] or visit her website at