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Touring a Master's Garden in Smyrna

The best way to gather ideas for your own garden is to see what others have done in theirs.

If you’re like me, every year as the weather warms up and spring fever kicks in, you look out at your yard and vow…this year, I’m going to make this place a real garden.

So, the first thing you do is attend the Home and Garden show in February. Fabulous presentation; but can a non-professional really create and upkeep these looks? Not this one. 

A more practical option is "Through the Garden Gate,'' the 2011 tour of the private gardens of Cobb County Master Gardeners. The tour is a fundraiser for the Master Gardener organization to support the nine projects they work on in Cobb County. It is also an educational opportunity for the public to see what is possible to create in the various terrains and yard sizes around Cobb County.

Each garden is  worked by a Master Gardener/Gardeners. Some have hired companies for the hardscaping and weekly lawn maintenance, but the majority of the design and much of the labor is done by the individual gardener. 

Three Master Gardeners personal gardens, two project gardens, County Manager David Hankerson’s working vegetable and fruit garden, plus a plant sale at the Cobb County Water Department’s Rain Garden (one of the project gardens) will be featured on this year’s tour.

Master Gardeners will be stationed throughout each garden to  answer any questions that you might have. Plants will be labeled so you might want a pen and paper handy - better yet, bring your camera. Creative and doable ideas will be in abundance.   

I was privileged to get a sneak peek at the Smyrna garden on this year’s tour -  home of Master Gardener Suzanne Shinall. Suzanne’s garden has been 36 years in the making. She began with the front yard and developed it slowly. In 1998, when she and her husband purchased a bit more acreage behind them, she began to renovate the woods into what has become a woodland garden.

Susanne has been a Master Gardener for one year and was a Friend of Master Gardeners for three years prior to that. In the 1990s, she worked with the native plant rescuers, and so, her garden has well established native plant patches throughout.

The house, garden, and small creek running at the back of the property comprise just under an acre. Suzanne has worked and achieved Backyard Habitat certification from the National Wildlife Federation. It’s hard to believe that South Cobb Drive is just a few blocks away. 

The sound of various small water features, the warmth of the dappled sunlight coming through the trees, along with the birds singing their lovely songs, made for a relaxing and quite pleasant morning.

This year’s tour is scheduled for the Saturday before Mother’s Day - May 7.  What a great idea for a family outing and a perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day.  Ticket sales began March 1 and can be purchased through the Cobb County Extension Service

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