Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Before All Hail Broke Loose

The last day of the 2011 Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens, will be remembered as the day that all hail broke loose. It was a balmy Sunday, the last in March. Small groups of tourists strolled beneath the moss-draped oaks along Washington Avenue. The garden du jour could not be seen from the street, hidden as it was behind large azaleas and a screen. But the small haven was as lovely as I expected. Follow me to see what lay behind that garden wall in the calm before the storm.

The Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens is an annual spring event presented by the Women Of Christ Church (Anglican). For 76 years, The Tour has provided visitors rare glimpses of some of Savannah's most notable residences and gardens. Proceeds support worthy charities.

This garden is located in historic Ardsley Park/Chatham Crescent, a development begun in 1909 by Harry Hays Lattimore, William Lattimore and their partners, as Savannah’s first automobile subdivision. Their intent was to attract wealthy new residents from out of state, but Savannahians considered it to be very appealing, too. Laid out in a grid pattern similar to General Oglethorpe's original design of the city, the homes were modern and the lots larger. Entrances to the development were marked by large belgian stone walls topped with red tile roofs. Conveniently situated parks welcomed residents to relax, visit and play outdoors. Alleys behind the homes allowed off-street parking and utility services to be conducted discretely.

This residence was built around 1920. Upon entering the garden, the feature that captures the eye is a water garden originally built as a wading pool for twin boys, sons of a former resident. Stones, natural and hewn, outline its perimeter. A small fountain adds a delightful sound; graceful koi add color and motion. The wisteria-shaded veranda, is typical of Savannah - dreamy and inviting. Though the garden is small, thoughtful placement of seating, shading and container gardens provide delightful little places for solitary peace, tea, or a private tete a tete, each with a unique perspective. Whimsical objects, add vibrant color to catch the eye and sometimes divert attention from more utilitarian things. The present owner, a Master Gardener, has transformed the place into a work of art.

It was a fine day in Savannah, though the breeze was picking up. As we moseyed to our car, I wished we could stay longer.

While we motored home, our son, an agent Selling Savannah Now, called to ask if we had run into a hail storm. Though the sky looked very threatening and the wind was gusting, we had not. At that moment, he alarmed, it was pummeling the city behind us. White, stony ice was covering the scene, beating azalea blooms to the ground and gardens to shreds. I hoped the garden on Washington Avenue fared well.

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