Saturday, April 3, 2010

Peaches' Garden

Southern tradition, hospitality and comfort flourish in the home and garden of Roland and Peaches Barnes.  One senses it even when passing by.  Magnificent Deodar Cedars bathe the front lawn in cooling shade during the hottest days of summer, and the inviting glow from indoors spreads its welcome at evening.  Near the street, a little plaque that Roland inherited designates this place as "Happy Forest."  And it's about as good as it gets.  Theirs is a life together of sowing, sewing, nourishing and enjoying the fruit of good work.

We have enjoyed their friendship for many years.  Our children have grown up together.  In fact, we all have grown up together, and can attest to their faithfulness and care.

Roland is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Statesboro, GA, which he planted in 1981.  Peaches is an artist, specializing in "french hand-sewn" couture.  Her work has been featured in well-known magazines including Veranda, Victoria, Sew Beautiful, Southern Accents, Southern Lady and Secrets of the South.  Peaches is one-of-a-kind, as is each of her creations. She crafts each with her own hands, using only the finest materials, meticulous with the smallest details.  Many of her masterpieces have already become treasured family heirlooms.  You can learn more about her work at

Peaches is also a gardener, most interested in heirloom varieties traditional to the South.  I visited recently.  Accompanied by her grandson, she showed me about.

The white-washed garden gate is dressed in garlands of green, yellow and white with Carolina Jessamine, Lady Banks Rose, Confederate Jasmine, Trumpet Honeysuckle and Virgin's Bower Clematis.  The earliest species bloom just ahead of the next to provide many weeks of fragrance and color.

Hers is a garden for children.  The garden wall, softened with Magnolia grandiflora Little Gem, provides safety and places to hide.  An antique playhouse invites her grandchildren, as it did her own children, to practice and play in a domain of their own.  Raised-bed vegetable gardens are nearby to tend.  After all that hard work, Peaches' salt-water pool beckons them for a swim.  A classic pergola, accented with topiaries, provides a shady place to picnic or serve tea.  Stone bunnies and squirrels nestle among ground covers and peek from behind shrubs.

Peaches collects plants that are deep-rooted in Southern tradition.  Though not considered rare, they are more often neglected as gardeners desire newer selections.  So, in her garden you'll find old-fashioned camellias and indica azaleas, spirea and irises, daylilies, hydrangea, ajuga, aucuba and nandina.

Perhaps old-fashioned plants have survived because they thrive on neglect.  When she began her garden, Peaches sought them out.  Now, she rues, some of them have become "evasive."  Not invasive, mind you.  They have only run off to spring up where she least expects them.  She pointed some of them out: crocosmia, yarrow, vinca, houttuynia, virgin's bower clematis, and queen anne's lace in every crack and crevice.

We could have visited longer, but baby Roeland crawled into his push car and begged to "go fast."  So, off they ran for a quick lap or two around the yard.

Peaches' garden is not picture perfect.  It's a living space.  As we all know, happy forests are not always tidy, but they are comfortable and home to many.

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