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Marching across county to check out master gardens
Biannual tour offers peek into conservation ventures
Water flows down the falls created by Dinah Wallace’s husband in the garden at her Gainesville home. The waterfall was one of the first steps to deal with a drainage problem. Wallace's garden is part of the biannual Hall County Master Gardeners' Garden Walk. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Garden Walk 2015

What: Tour of seven gardens offered bi-annually by the Hall County Master Gardeners

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 6 

Where: Homes and professional garden sites such as Gardens on Green and the new Linwood Nature Preserve

Cost: $10 before June 6, $15 on June 6 at any of the seven gardens

More info: 770-535-8293 or

Since its beginnings in 2011, the Redbud Project has been coming together as a model for conservation in Hall County that also offers education and resources to the public. And next week, it will be one of the seven featured gardens on the Hall County Master Gardeners’ biannual Garden Walk.

During the tour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 6, attendees will have a sneak peek of the Red Project and see the accessible areas and the portions still in progress. Participants will also glimpse the Linwood Nature Preserve, which is part of the tour for the first time as well.

The walk, held every two years, features seven residential and professional garden sites. Tickets are available for $10 from the Hall County Extension Office at 734 E. Crescent Drive in Gainesville or online at

The Garden Walk ticket provides patrons with the locations of the seven gardens, directions and information about each. The route is not specific, allowing participants to determine which stops they want to use. Master Gardeners will be at each location to answer questions. Participants will also receive a pass-along plant at the Braselton stop of the tour.

Master Gardener Margaret Rasmussen, head of the Redbud Project, hopes showing people ways to protect nature and ecosystems around them through the model off Springview Drive will help people conserve in their own homes.

“Everything here is replicable,” she said. “We want to encourage conservation, but we needed a model to show how. The Redbud Project helps us do that. We want to get people into nature.”

The garden features specimens of native plants and other species beneficial to the ecosystem. It also has examples of rain gardens, rain barrels and plants that filter stormwater.

“The rain gardens feature plants that can withstand drought or moisture,” Rasmussen said. “They control the storm water runoff and slow it down, so that by the time it reaches the creeks, the pollutants have been filtered out.”

The carefully constructed gardens help control soil erosion and other issues that damage the lake and surrounding nature. The rain gardens and each specimen bed have been constructed and cared for by volunteers, including many Master Gardeners.

“We have so many community volunteers,” Rasmussen said. “Each bed has a captain who is a master gardener who helped choose the plants in the bed and cares for them. We will also have trail captains and trail stewards who are responsible for cleaning up the trails.”

The nature preserve’s trailhead is still under construction on Linwood Drive, but the trails are open to the public from the gates on Springview Drive. The area has approximately 2 miles of trails with viewing areas and bench seating throughout.

“We want to provide nature to people for their health and wellness,” Rasmussen said. “We want to get them out on the trails or on the viewing decks.”

Parts of the preserve’s trails overlook Lake Lanier, and all features will be open to see on the Garden Walk. Rasmussen also hopes once people are exposed to native plants on the tour, then they will choose to use them in their own gardens.

“The woods around here have many plants that you can use in landscapes,” Rasmussen said. “We want to encourage people to use native plants because they help the communities around them.”

Dinah Wallace, whose garden will be featured for the first time on the walk, has many native plants on her property, such as ferns and shrubs. But it was not an easy task.

She and husband Ken, however, took on a major landscaping renovation in 2008. Where the house once had dirt, dust and soil erosion, it now has water features, bridges, trails and plants throughout.

“The waterfall was the first thing we did,” Wallace said. “It was completely my husband’s idea, and he did it all himself. I think he redid it six times before he was satisfied.”

The waterfall, which streams down two natural-looking rock beds, travels under a bridge, through the garden and into a large pond. Wallace noted the large pond was part of the property when they moved to it in the 1970s.

“We have been in this location 37 years,” she said. “The pond has always been here, but every time Ken goes fishing, he puts the fish in the pond. We have huge catfish that we feed.”

A walking path surrounds the pond, complete with small dock, canoe, benches and bridges along the way. Wallace noted she walks around the pond at least once a day.

“I walk through here and look at all of the plants, make sure everything is doing all right,” she said. “I will walk around here in the evening. The sound of the waterfalls is just so peaceful.”

Wallace particularly enjoys odd-shaped plants, such as a crooked tree or strangely-shaped shrub. She and her husband have brought plants from many other places to feature in their garden.

“I really like things that are different,” she said. “Now, the problem is finding different plants that we don’t already have. We get some from North Carolina, or at the garden expo.”

All of the gardens on the tour have a different element to them. Some are floral-focused, others are primarily native plants, and some are modern. Garden Walk co-chairwoman Sarah Galshack said all of them are “doable.”

“For all of them, we wanted something the gardener created, not a landscaper,” Galshack said. “(Wallace’s garden) is our quiet place in the country. The garden in Braselton is more of an urban garden, but they all can be recreated with the right person.”

Galshack noted many of the master gardeners help out in the featured gardens prior to the event.

“For Garden Walk, we all pull together and volunteer to pull weeds or trim shrubs,” Galshack said. “A group will get together at one garden one day and work and have lunch and get ready for the walk.”