Get Inspiration from Peachtree City Garden Club’s Annual Garden Tour

Summer has set in and your enthusiasm for enhancing your garden may be flagging in the heat and humidity. Grab a glass of sweet tea, relax, and take a few moments to get inspiration, tips, and great ideas from Peachtree City Garden Club members who opened their gardens to club members in May. You will be ready to tackle your own outside space after seeing what these intrepid gardeners have done!


Lisa Szoke’s Peachtree City Garden

John and Lisa Szoke are teaching their children to appreciate nature by planting a wide variety of flowers and vegetables, grown using organic methods. Pictured, from left, are Emily, John, Maddie, Lisa and Lily.

When this young family moved into their home three years ago, the landscape was in desperate need of some TLC. Despite little gardening experience, Lisa and husband, John, designed, built and installed many of the garden’s features, including play spaces for their three young daughters. Determined to use organic and sustainable methods and to teach their children about caring for the earth, the Szoke’s created a  garden which is an experiment in suburban permaculture (using the right plants for the environment with an emphasis on nutrient-rich soil).

 The Szoke’s recently enhanced their front yard by designing and installing a beautiful stone pathway leading to the house. The back garden features the concept of “food not lawns” – incorporating beds of perennial edibles like asparagus, cherry trees, blackberries, blueberries, herbs, and muscadines. Lisa has also started a 400 square foot cutting garden of old-fashioned favorites, including sweet pea, larkspur, foxglove, and poppies. She hopes one day to turn her cutting garden into a business, “Peachtree City Wild Blooms,” to supply vendors with local, fresh cut and fragrant flowers.


Lisa’s Gardening Tip: Incorporate edibles into your garden. There are so many options whether it’s a vegetable bed, a strawberry patch, potted herbs, or a blueberry bush. Having plants that you can harvest from and enjoy with friends and family brings a whole new dimension to the gardening experience.


Eileen Conrad’s Peachtree City Garden:

 The front garden of Eileen and Tom’s home is a stunning array of colorfully planted garden beds between a winding pathway. With the help of Art of Landscaping, they selected daylilies, drift roses, camellias, hydrangeas and gardenias, Encore azaleas, and varieties of roses.

Tom Conrad constantly tinkers with his back yard masterpiece – a garden railroad – built in three sections that includes city scenes, a hand-built trestle system, forest and mine areas and an airport and village.

The surprising focal point of the garden is reached as you enter the back yard where you will see three sections of garden railroad, complete with city scenes, townspeople and tiny plantings in the first section. The train moves on to a hand-built trestle system, featuring forest and mine areas and then on to the third section that includes an airport and village. All sections are planted with tiny “steppable” plants and herbs. After viewing the train, you will notice the color and fragrance of the butterfly garden that surrounds a charming gazebo, perfect for family gatherings. Planter boxes filled with roses run the length of the house providing more fragrance and a sense of nostalgia for times gone by.


 Eileen’s Gardening Tip:  When you begin to create a personally pleasing garden space, consider the look you wish to achieve. Visit area nurseries and ask questions. Attend gardening seminars and visit or join various garden clubs. Finally, add a touch of whimsy. We did so by including model railroads. As part of the Georgia Garden Railroads Society, we have turned a very challenging area into one of delight.


Linda Faulkner and Karen Sagon’s Peachtree City Garden:

Linda and Karen’s back garden features a comfortable swing where you can sit and view the rest of the garden, filled with flowering shrubs, like loropetalum, and trees with stunning foliage, like Japanese maple.

After recently moving into their Peachtree City home, Linda and Karen hired the talented folks at Art of Landscaping to transform their yard and courtyard into a spectacular, contemporary outside space that you never want to leave! Walking into their courtyard, you first notice the relaxing sounds of water cascading from a large, triple-dispensing waterfall. A linear six-foot gas fireplace, with a TV above, provides the perfect gathering spot for football crazy friends on a chilly fall day. A corner nook features a memorial garden in memory of Linda’s mother. Winding pathways to the back yard reveal a charming swing as a focal point to view the rest of the garden, filled with flowering shrubs like loropetalum and trees with stunning foliage like Japanese maple.


Linda and Karen’s Gardening Tip: Make your own potted planters. Start in the back of the pot with taller plants, then stair step the plants down to the front ending in creeping foliage plants. Enjoy digging in the dirt!


Laura Johnson’s Fayetteville Garden:

While most of her property is in deep shade, Laura has planted colorful flowers in spots of sun, like this brilliant red amaryllis.
Laura and CO Johnson have lived in their rural Fayetteville home for over 33 years!

Laura and CO Johnson have lived in their home in rural Fayetteville on two wooded acres for over 33 years! After briefly considering moving to be closer to their children, they realized their hearts still longed for their own garden spaces and their beautiful views of a lake, with a beautiful waterfall that welcomes people as they drive up to their home. The garden is deeply shaded with only one sunny spot where Laura tends a raised bed filled with organic vegetables she grows based on the permaculture principle that everything should benefit something else. Two of her beds are done using the Hugelkultur method – a no-till bed filled with decomposing wood. Laura also cultivates a “food forest” filled with fruit trees. She grows Meyer lemon trees she sells on eBay!  Free-range chickens roam the garden. A recycled glass greenhouse is a wonderful focal point, used to over-winter tender plants. Spots of color are found throughout the garden with blooming purple iris and brilliant red and white amaryllis.


Laura’s Gardening Tip: Mulch to help with weed control, to conserve moisture, and create soil microbial and beneficial fungi.


Larry Dove’s Fayetteville Farm:

Larry and Twila Dove’s Two Doves Farm is a Certified Organic farm encompassing 15 acres near Pellum Creek. After purchasing the property in 2004, they started farming on one acre and have expanded the garden to two acres. They have added several types of fruit trees, berries, grapes, and kiwi, as well as four sites for growing hydroponic lettuce and strawberries. Honeybees aid in pollination, as well as provide wonderful wildflower honey! Medicinal herbs and wild mushrooms grow in nearby wooded areas. Near the hydroponic growing sites, you will find a chicken coop with a variety of breeds of chickens that provide ample fresh eggs and also amusement for Twila and Larry. The chickens live in a dedicated area to protect them from a variety of predators. Flower beds near the house feature showy flowering plants including bearded iris and peonies.

Larry and Twila realized a long-term goal, building a wildlife viewing teahouse and a treehouse on their farm, where they can relax after a long work day.

A few years ago, Larry and Twila completed of a multi-year winter project – a wildlife viewing teahouse and relaxing treehouse, tucked in the woods, complete with deck comfortable chairs and a hammock for long summer naps!

Larry and Twila are committed to being as environmentally-friendly as possible, so on the farm you will find 45 solar panels on the roof of the barn that provides about 50% of their annual electric requirements. Their farm is located right next to Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground, where Larry is helping to develop and manage the organic farm at the camp to provide fresh food for campers each season.

Larry’s Gardening Tip:  Get a soil test. An excellent reference book is Square Foot Gardening. It details how to grow a bountiful garden in small spaces – a must-read for most PTC backyard gardens.  


Peachtree City Garden Club’s Tips for Growing Great Containers

  • Select an interesting pot for your design.  Anything that holds water can be a container, as long as it has a drainage hole.
  • Use a good “soilless” mix, especially made for containers, not heavy garden soil.
  • Select a color palette of no more than three or four colors and repeat the color scheme in all your containers.
  • Purchase plants of different heights, textures and shapes for added interest
  • Arrange plants using a tall, vertical plant in the back, some colorful, flowering filler plants in the middle and some trailing plants to drape over the sides.
  • Arrange plants and pots in odd numbers – 1-3-5-7.


Bonnie Helander

I am a writer and blogger with a specialty in gardening and a proud graduate of the University Of Georgia. I live in Peachtree City with husband, Dan, and enjoy hiking, gardening, being a member of the Peachtree City Garden Club and rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs!

July 16, 2019