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Crowds turn out for garden tour and tea party

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Beautiful weather and beautiful gardens brought out more than 400 visitors to The Mad Hatter’s Garden Tour and Tea Party at Winding River Plantation on Saturday, April 25.

The event, co-sponsored by the Coastal Garden Club and the Winding River Garden Club, featured 13 Winding River gardens, providing members and visitors with a chance to see how homeowners met gardening site challenges.

Toured homes included the home of Cammie and Abel Brand, whose garden challenge is wetlands. Among the features in their yard are beautiful Japanese maples that add to the privacy of this garden.

Pat and Joe Schutzman’s home was transformed into a horticultural wonderland with many diverse plants and provides an ever-changing landscape.

The landscape around the home of Arlene and Fred Loepp was designed around mature trees and the Lockwood Folly River views. An array of trees, shrubs, private alcoves, a koi pond and formal courtyard continually spark interests.

Other gardens on the tour included the home of Gail and Frank Aaron, whose garden was challenged by wetlands. Corkscrew willow, swamp iris and pitcher plants are indigenous to Southeastern wetlands and have replaced vines, bamboo and scrub brush.

A steeply sloped, mostly shaded, riverfront lot presented Susan and John Hadenchuk with a gardening challenge. Their garden is truly transformed into a tranquil retreat. Also along the river is the home of Cathy and Tony Wood. Their three-year-old garden is flourishing despite wind and salt spray, with herbs and daylilies enhancing this setting.

Diana and Gene Wells’ garden has a vista of azaleas and spring bloomers that enhance the spectacular view of the golf course.

The two-year old garden of Judy and Bill Hoffman uses texture and color and have used unusual specimens to incorporate native plantings.

A glimpse into the garden of Larry and Carolyn Smith provides a walk through a primeval forest with ferns, hollies and horsetail skirting a meandering stream through towering trees.

Continuing the garden tour is the home of Dianne and Bob Hey. Their garden has views of both a pond and golf course. Daffodils, iris and lilies and colorful annuals fill spaces with palm trees adding “Southern comfort.”

Judy and Bill Proffitt’s home has significantly matured since 2001. In addition to the Encore azaleas in the front beds are a host of colorful annuals. The large pampas grasses add to the feel of the garden along with a 50-year-old red camellia, which was moved from a property in Supply.

Rounding out the tour was the community garden where residents care for their own plots to grow vegetables, sharing the learning experience of gardening in a southern climate and the fruits of their labors, as well.

Visitors to the River House were welcomed to look out over the Lockwood Folly River and marsh from the comfort of the rocking chairs on the River House porch and enjoy the vistas. It is here that the Winding River Gardening Club has completed a tree and shrub identification project to help visitors learn the botanical and common names of plantings.

Following the tour, visitors enjoyed a tea hosted by both garden clubs at the property owners’ clubhouse. Members of both clubs made the centerpieces, some in teapots to carry out the theme of the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

Jean Billie of the Coastal Garden Club did the ticket and announcement art, which was the inspiration for the day’s theme.

Tour proceeds went to both clubs and will benefit horticultural scholarships and civic beautification projects.