This article appeared in the July 2002 web issue of Horticulture Update,
edited by Dr. William C. Welch, and produced by Extension Horticulture,
Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

Master Gardener Trip
to Savannah and Charleston

October 2-13, 2002

he next tour opportunity for Texas Master Gardeners to visit famous Southern landmarks and gardens will be this fall, when Dr. Doug Welsh, State Master Gardener Coordinator, leads a group to Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Welsh is editor of the award-winning Texas Master Gardener Handbook. He specializes in landscape water management and xeriscape and is co-author of the book, Xeriscape Gardening - Water Conservation for the American Landscape. His knowledge, experience and love of gardening will make this tour through the South one to remember.

The trip will cover 10 days and 11 nights. Master Gardeners will enjoy secret gardens, elegant homes, magnificent plantations, hidden alleys, and quaint, cobblestone streets through restored historic areas.

Private Gardens - We will tour many private gardens on our trip. In Beaufort, we will tour the garden of a personal friend of Dr. Bill Welch, and in Charleston Dr. Welch's friend Mary Martha Blalock and Julie An Trouche will lead us through several well known private gardens. Pat Ryan, a Master Gardener who hosted the Spring N.O. G.S. tour "Hidden Gardens" will be our host for private gardens in the Savannah area. Pat Tuttle, creator of the book tour based on Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, will lead the historic home and church tour. Pat is a native Savannahian and has been featured in Southern Living and on the NBC Today Show and CNN Television.

In Savannah, Master Gardeners will see: The Juliette Gordon Lowe Center, the beautifully restored family home of the founder of the Girl Scouts. The house was threatened with demolition in1953 and was purchased by the Girl Scouts.

The Green-Meldrim House, headquarters for General Sherman, is famous for its elaborate ironwork. The city of Savannah was given to President Lincoln as a Christmas present. Today it serves as a parish house and is owned by St. John's Church.

The Owens-Thomas House, which takes up an entire block on the square and is considered one of the finest examples of English regency architecture in the country. The home, with its columned entrance portico and brass inlaid staircase was designed by architect William Jay. The carriage house is one of the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South and opens into an English-inspired parterre garden.

The Isaiah Davenport House was largely responsible for the preservation of Savannah's national treasure, the Historic District. When developers came to demolish the house in the 1950's, a group of local women banded together to stop it. They later formed the Historic Savannah Foundation.

The Wormsloe Historic Site is situated on a forested peninsula surrounded by coastal marshes and a breathtaking mile long avenue bordered by live oaks and Confederate earthworks, leads to the ruins of Wormsloe established in 1737 by Noble Jones. The site includes a plantation house built in 1828, a detached library and the ruins of a fortified house. Wormsloe was Noble Jones' country estate where he tested his horticultural interests. The two story frame house on the eastern side of the road on the drive down the avenue of the oaks is home to the ninth generation of Jones' descendants. It is closed to the public.

The Ships of the Sea Museum, housed in the William Scarbrough House, is home to the largest garden within the historic district of Savannah. The design of the garden is derived from a typical 19th century parlor garden. The displays of annual plants in this garden are famous. Careful attention has been paid to the plant material and surface materials. With a few exceptions, all plant material is native or has been available since the early to mid 1800's. Seasonal changes keep the garden alive with surprises.

The Charleston Fall Garden Show will step 'back in time' this year. Throughout the exhibit hall, guests will find vignettes depicting the contributions of important Charleston botanists from 1720 throuugh 1860. The Garden Show will give guests an appreciation of the plants and historic gardens of the Low Country.

Cypress Gardens offers visitors the rare experience of being one with nature. The Gardens were originally part of Dean Hall Plantation, one of Cooper River's most important rice plantations. In 1909, the plantation was purchased by Benjamin R. Kittredge, who cleared trails in the swamp and planted thousands of azaleas, camellias, tea olives, winter daphne and daffodils. The Gardens were given to Berkeley County in 1996 and they have added the Butterfly House, Fresh Water Aquarium Reptile Center and Aviary, an Antique Rose Garden and Daylily Display Garden.

Boone Hall and Gardens As you walk through the oak avenue, you will see that Captain Thomas Boone left a touch overshadowing that of any other owner. He planted live oak trees intwo evenly spaced rows. The avenue was so wide that it would take two centuries for the massive branches to meet overhead, forming a natural cathedral nave. The formal gardens reflect the English acestry of Major John Boone. The ancient serpentin brick walls and herringbone patterned walks wind through beds of hundreds of varieties of camellias and azaleas. Each year thousands of brilliant bulbs and othe flowreing plants are added to the formal garden. The ABC-TV Novel for Television North and South I and II were both filmed at Boone Hall Plantation.

Mepkin Abbey & Botanical Garden are situated within a living monastic community. Their commitment ensures that Mepkin will always provide sacred space, helping people to gain a renewed sense of self-awareness, tranquility and joy. This garden honors all those who have lived and died and were buried on this land - the Native American, Henry Laurens, colonial era owner of the plantation, the African Americans who worked the plantation rice fields, and Clare Booth and Henry Luce, twentieth century leaders in publishing and philanthropy.

Middleton Place Plantationis one of South Carolina's most enduring icons. This National Historic Landmark has history, drama and beauty. For over two and a half centuries, these graciously landscaped gardens have enchanted visitors from all over the world. It is noted for 'garden rooms' laid out with precise symmetry and balance. The gardens represent the Low Country's most spectacular and articulate expression of an 18th century ideal - the triumphant marriage between man and nature. The Middleton Place House and working Plantation Stableyards will also be on view. Craftspeople demonstrate the skills performed by slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. A typical Low Country dinner will also be enjoyed by the travellers.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is Charleston's premier plantation, founded in 1676. The House is a southern classic with elegant, columned porch and extensive collection of heirlooms and museum-quality antiques. The tour will walk through the oldest major garden in America, continually planted since the 1680's and affording year-round color. There will also be a ride on the Nature Train, a 45-minute tramride of the Plantation's diverse landscapes while guides describe plantation history, wildlife and extensive flora and fauna.

Tour includes: 5 nights in Charleston at Doubletree Suites; 5 mights in Savannah at Radisson Historic District; meals include 10 buffet breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners; motor coach transportation for most tours; all tour entrance fees; low country dinner; Savannah Harbor cruise with dinner; and farewell dinner in Savannah.

For further information, please consult
Linda Cook at Utopia Tours
28510-C State Highway 249 - No. 124
Tomball, TX 77375
1-281-259-0246, fax 1-281-259-2773
e-mail: <>.

Inquire about the possibility of including non-Master Gardeners
on the tour.