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Master Gardeners invite the public into their own backyards
Event offers varying takes from and for green thumbs
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Becky Mensinger speaks with Linda Williams at Mensinger’s garden on a tour hosted by the Master Gardeners on Saturday. There were seven gardens in the tour, two of which were public and five were residential. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Several hundred people attended the 2015 Garden Walk on Saturday that consisted of gardens spanning across Hall County.

A Hall County Master Gardener’s event, the tour featured five residential gardens and two public gardens. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and chat with the certified Master Gardeners.

Robin Friedman, the Master Gardener coordinator, who works for the UGA Cooperative Extensions, was confident in the selection of the gardens chosen for the walk.

“The co-chairs that put together the Garden walk were looking for homes and gardens that were unique so that those going on the tour could be inspired with creativity and different ideas that they might be able to take home and implement in their own gardens or in their own homes. Each one is really quite different,” Friedman said.

From herb gardens to fairy gardens to ornate flower gardens, Friedman said each site represents the uniqueness of each homeowner. She hopes guests take advantage of the knowledge and imagination the members have to offer.

“I hope that people are inspired to go home and use their own creative energy… Hopefully it will inspire them to come up with their own ideas on how to make their gardens, not just beautiful, but beautiful, creative and fun,” Friedman said.

A lifetime member, Becky Mensinger, 63, has been a Master Gardener for 13 years, Saturday being the second time her residence on Riverwood Drive was chosen. 

“How I do things is, subconsciously, I’m always doing it for a picture in my brain,” Mensinger said. “One area I’ll go ‘uh, I don’t like that plant’, dig it up and find something else and go ‘you know, this will be lovely’. I’ve never seen it, but will it work? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, so I’ll dig it back up.”

Mensinger’s garden features more types of plants than she could possibly count, but is always changing. Her fairy garden, giant troll with feet featuring jeweled toes and painted cat gourds are all favorites, as people stopped to ask about how they were made.

“This (garden) is (full of) plants they’ve never seen. These are pass-along plants that aren’t in the trade,” Mensinger said, regarding the variety of plants blooming in her backyard. Having received so many plants and seeds from friends over the years, Mensinger doesn’t hesitate to share a snippet of one plant or seeds with anyone who asks.

Sandra Perry became a Master Gardener in 2011, and her house on East Lake Drive, Gainesville, appeared on the Garden Walk for the time on Saturday.

Having been a gardener long before she retired, in the four years since, Perry has been able to transform her backyard. The children’s garden inspired by her grandchildren features a refurbished play house that Perry used as a child in the 50s.

“It’s been exciting to be part of this. A lot of work, yes but also fun to be part of it,” Perry said. “Having the opportunity for others to get interested in gardening or for them to be aware of the Master Gardening group has been great.”

Having moved from Illinois to Sugar Hill to be closer to her family, Deb Loding was overwhelmed by the beauty of Perry’s garden.

“In Illinois everything was very flat, so all the rolling lawns and the landscaping and way everyone has adapted to the hills is just beautiful to me,” Loding said.

With her backyard a blank slate, Loding spent the day taking pictures of all the features she liked at each garden.

“I’m filling up (my backyard) with my favorite southern things because I’ve never had azaleas and red buds and crape myrtles. So I’m having a ball with all the fun, fun things Georgia offers,” Loding said.

“It’s really been interesting for me to see more of the Southern style gardening and some of the Southern native plants that I’m not as familiar with so it’s been extremely interesting to me.”

For more information on the Hall County Master Gardeners visit

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