When Karen Hicks moved into her home on the Jackson County and Hall County line, she set to work digging up all the plants that were there. She had much bigger and better plans in mind.
For anyone who wants to see what she’s been doing there for the past 12 years, Hicks will be one of the stops on the Hall County Master Gardeners’ biennial Garden Walk 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 1. Tickets are $10 in advance and can be purchased online, at the Hall County Extension office or directly from a Master Gardener. Tickets will be $15 on the day of the event.
“I am a habitat gardener, so I garden for wildlife and I use a lot of native plants in my garden and try to attract pollinators and beneficial insects,” said Hicks, a Master Gardener. “I like to use my garden kind of as a demonstration or education garden … and I wanted to show people what you can do with native plants.”
What: Self-guided tour through six gardens in Hall County
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 1
How much: $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the event
More info: www.hallmastergardeners.com/garden-walk
That’s one of the most important parts of the Garden Walk. Chris Michael, chairman of the Garden Walk, said people like to go around to the different gardens in the area and learn from what other people have done in their gardens. Sometimes, they take home the things they learn to implement in their own garden.
“I really think that's a very big attraction,” Michael said. “Everybody has some problem spot or something they'd like to do and the Master Gardeners are all about education and helping people fix problems in their yards.”
The 2017 walk brought about 300 people out to tour some of the Master Gardeners’ gardens. The Garden Walk is a self-guided tour of gardens in the area. Once a ticket is bought, walkers get the addresses of the homes on the walk and can drive around to them at their own pace on the day of the event.
This year, walkers will be able to make their way through four private gardens as well as two public gardens. Public gardens are new this year, but Michael said he’s excited for people to see the two gardens in the city of Gainesville: Linwood Nature Preserve and the Piedmont Hotel.
“The gardens around what's left of the hotel are what we call heritage planting,” Michael said. “It's all the old shrubs and bushes that General Longstreet basically planted, so that's interesting if you want to see some of the old plants there.”
The museum at the hotel will also have free admission for those on the walk.
But if walking through some of the gardens that homeowners have spent hours upon hours meticulously perfecting for the walk is what you’re looking for, then the four private gardens won’t disappoint.
Hicks has 10 acres of gardens at her home in Talmo but just about 2.5 will be a part of the Garden Walk. The most impressive part of her property is the diversity.
“The different plants that we have are not found in your average garden,” Hicks said. “We have areas that are sun and shade. We have sloped areas in the garden which is often a challenging area for people. So I think people would get great ideas to see how we have hardscaped certain areas and how we have handled challenging areas.”
They’re all tips and tricks she learned from her mother as she was growing up and also from other Master Gardeners over the years.
“My mom was a big gardener, so I kind of grew up watching her garden and I gardened a little bit with her,” Hicks said. “But I've always loved being outside and loved nature, and gardening is kind of a therapeutic thing for me, too, and a great way to relieve stress and be out in nature.”
Although she’s worried about the high temperatures and lack of rain in the coming week’s forecast, Hicks said she’ll be out in the garden getting things prepared for the walk. Other Master Gardeners will be there helping pull weeds and spread mulch.
“My husband helps me, too,” Hicks said. “He's also very much into gardening, so having somebody like that to help you is a big help.”
Taking part in the Garden Walk can be a big help to both new and experienced gardeners. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer any questions and help with any problems.
“I don't really want to call us the ‘experts,’ but we probably have a great insight into growing things and how to do things,” Michael said. “I think people go around to see what we've done in our own yards and how we've overcome some tasks or overcome some things that everybody has in their yard. I think people go around to look and see what they could do and to get ideas and to find out information on how they can improve their own yards.”