2017 Garden Tour Preview

Beautiful Madness

A leisurely self-guided tour of 12 gardens.

Friday – Sunday, April 7 – 9th, 2017 in Wilmington, NC

Click on any photo thumbnail to see a larger photo.


#1 Ribbon Cutting Garden
Carole and Richard Johnson
7601 Masonboro Sound Road

Completed in 2011, this gracious home provides stunning views of the waterway across three acres of sweeping lawn. In the front garden is a delightful children’s playhouse with exquisite detail inside and out. The chicken coop, located close by, provides fresh eggs for the family and compost for the plants. Through the pierced brick walls and tabby columns is outdoor living at its finest. The pool is designed for families of all ages with comfortable entry and splash area as well as lap swimming. Overlooking the pool and Masonboro Sound is a screened dining area connected to an outdoor living room with comfortable seating complete with grill and fireplace. Copper lanterns and extensive night lighting extends the owners’ enjoyment into the evening. Five live oaks shade the broad 2-story covered back porches. Ancient magnolias and a 90-year-old dogwood are an important part of the landscape and are enhanced by the color of hundreds of spring bulbs. Stroll the gently sloping lawn to the dock to savor the panoramic views.


#2 Lisa and Kenny Lovitt
6712 Finian Street

The welcoming wrap-around porch with extensive staging sets the tone for what Lisa’s husband calls her “garden jewelry”. Don’t miss the detail of the planted log, along with frogs and pigs in many forms and variations. Large river birches provide welcoming shade where an Azalea Belle enjoys a place of honor. The outdoor pool and kitchen are the central feature of the back yard. Dry stacked stone was used to build the fireplace and pillars supporting a unique gazebo roof, which can be opened to the sun or closed to provide shade for the beautiful outdoor dining area. Colorful fish swim languidly through the stone pond shaded by graceful Sabal palm trees. Don’t miss the artistic touches behind the garage and the tool shed. Ordinary pots are only the beginning as plants appear in everything from logs to birdbaths, wagons to wheelbarrows – even a bathtub. Fanciful imagination and resourcefulness have created a garden filled with charm and whimsy.


#3 Betsy and Jim Knowles
6265 Turtle Hall

This beautifully shaded home is tucked into the landscape under huge live oaks with fatsias and pittosporum framing the front of the house. The owners’ passion for art is expressed throughout the garden in various forms. A large wooden pelican stands sentry at the front door. Follow the path on the left to the outdoor kitchen and its stunning stainless steel cabinetry. The pool house overlooks the freeform pool featuring a wide stone waterfall and is the perch for a stainless steel heron. Children and adults alike will enjoy the water slide on the opposite side. Wood decking is carefully crafted to fit beside the stone deck. Huge fatsias separate the large back deck from the pool and form a leafy roof over a stone walkway. This deck looks over the varied plantings and a second stone waterfall and pool. Another large bird sculpture and a cute pair of bespectacled frogs on a bench have a place beside the water. Continue on the stone path under tall trees and lush greenery to the exit.


#4  Dr. Joshua and Karen Vogel
6252 Turtle Hall

A wide front porch, with two comfortable seating areas, welcomes you to this home where the front beds abound with Crepe myrtles and hedges of chamaecyparis, loropetalum and masses of amaryllis. Tea olives at the end of the porch give evergreen screening and fabulous fragrance. Mature acubas and pittosporum hedges provide a variegated tapestry of color. An intricate landscape was designed in the back to provide privacy and beauty in place of a former clay tennis court. Large clumping bamboo forms a visual backdrop for a waterfall feature, which is not only ethereal, but also minimizes sound from street traffic. Three river birches and a weeping willow provide interesting texture and height in all seasons, while pads of wooden planks form a unique walkway around the area. To enjoy their privacy, a raised seating area with comfortable furniture was built to overlook this part of the landscape. Once again, the theme of yellow chamaecyparis and the purple of loropetalum combine with the massing of amaryllis under a loquat provide color and unify the garden scheme.


#5 Airlie Gardens
300 Airlie Road
Open Saturday and Sunday Only

Airlie continues to amaze visitors with its breathtaking combination of formal gardens, wildlife, historic structures, walking trails, sculptures, views of Bradley Creek, 10-acres of freshwater lakes, more than 100,000 azaleas and the grandeur of the magnificent 467-year-old Airlie Oak.


#6 John Klekamp and Mike Huckman
1802 Hawthorne Road

These new homeowners, not only inherited a wonderful garden, but also the talented gardener who continues to enhance and maintain the property. The interesting lamppost in the entrance bed by the old brick walk leads your eye to the teal door and a large maple, which provides stately elegance to the front of the house. Crepe myrtles provide street side interest and color all along this corner property. Many shrubs and trees have the lower foliage removed exposing the trunks and branches. This interesting pruning technique is called ‘limbing up’. The raised wooden deck is perfect for year-round outdoor entertaining with a large dining table, grill and heat lamp for cool evenings. Tucked beside the deck, a quietly bubbling stone fountain provides soothing ambience. Fragrance abounds with a large brugmansia in the summer and multiple tea olives repeated throughout the spring and fall. This garden continues to evolve with creative design, garden features and plant additions including more roses, hundreds of bulbs and many colorful annuals.


#7 Mia and Richards Hankins
1508 Princess Street

This stately home was built in 1940 and over the last seven years the present owners have added their own special touches. A raised brick wall bordered with liriope and a podocarpus hedge (lining the curved walkway) defines the entrance. Sky Pencil hollies make an elegant statement on either side of the front door. Can you find the tall metal giraffe hiding in the left front garden? It is the work of local artist, Dumay Gorham. The back garden offers the perfect spot for entertaining. Tall Sabal palms provide a tropical theme around the swimming pool while the raised platform gazebo in the corner beckons you to lounge on the bed/swing in the shade. The unique “Wilmingtonian Theatre” is a special element designed to bring friends and neighbors together to picnic, swim and enjoy movies on warm summer evenings. Mia is a plant lover who grows many unusual specimens and bonsai and uses her greenhouse for overwintering tender plants. The side garden features a large metal umbrella covered in yellow Lady Banks rose. Centered under the umbrella is a fountain with the metal links of chains which direct the fall of water. As you exit, look for the antique ball and chain on the back gate and the beautiful Encore azaleas that line the exterior brick wall and fence.


#8 Bellamy Mansion
503 Market Street

Eliza Bellamy’s garden became famous in the Wilmington area after its completion circa 1870. The home and garden deteriorated after her death and in 1989 was donated to Preservation North Carolina by the Bellamy family in order to restore the property back to its original beauty. The mansion and garden opened to the public in 1994. Archaeological and photographic evidence were used to mimic Eliza’s original plan. The four Southern Magnolia trees are original to Eliza’s garden. Despite having only an estimated life expectancy of 80 to 120 years, the Bellamy’s magnolias are over 140 years old. Eliza Bellamy’s famous garden was crafted in a specific and popular French landscaping style known as a parterre. A parterre is composed of elliptical or circular beds. These beds are typically constructed on a level surface in symmetrical patterns and are usually connected by gravel pathways which may be lined with tightly clipped hedges or stones. Eliza was fascinated by European styles of the 19th century and chose to incorporate that love into the design of her garden.

Please join our Azalea Belles for iced tea and cookies on the Bellamy porch on Saturday afternoon, from noon to 2pm


#9 Mike McCarley and Nancy Langevin
Cameron-Hollman House
510 Surry Street

The historic Cameron-Hollman house was moved from across the street to its present location next to Dram Tree Park in 1973. The Park was the site for colonial sailors to celebrate safe passage out or return with a dram of grog. Note the interesting gingerbread detail on the eves and the front porch. This theme is repeated on the back of the house with the 2-story balconies combining Victorian and Federal styles. This formal garden uses sheared boxwood hedges to frame the expansive and meticulously maintained lawns that meander across three waterfront lots. Intricate brick walls surround the property and terrace down the hillside providing multiple levels enhanced with large rose gardens. The foundation walls, from the 1919 Broadfoot Iron Works, provide an elegant framework to a park-like open lawn on the lower level. A private, informal brick terrace immediately behind the home provides a beautiful spot for solace and enjoying the stunning views.


#10 Ms. Kimberly Hayden
Governor Dudley Mansion
400 South Front Street

The first elected NC Governor, Edward Dudley, built this historic home in 1825. Recent extensive renovation to the home and gardens has restored its former glory. The custom fabricated ironwork is a handsome addition and elegant finishing touch. The keystone for the garden was to correct the drainage and stabilize the massive brick wall at the back. To accomplish this objective, dry stream beds and multiple inlets help to gather and redistribute the water. Two geothermal wells were installed for irrigation and to heat the house. Behind the garage, the kitchen garden is defined by multiple stone edged beds containing various fruits, from trees to shrubs to vines. Nearby is an outdoor fireplace and grill area with comfortable seating. A huge old magnolia forms the basis for the children’s play area and tall tree house. The eye-catching antique fountain has been converted to a planter and is the centerpiece for the surrounding roses in memory of the owner’s mother. A serpentine path surrounded by plantings, chosen for their textures, colors and contrasting leaves, connects two enormous live oaks. The expansive deck, with shaded seating, encourages dining and lounging while savoring this new landscape.


#11 Captain Terry and Mrs Phoebe Bragg
Foshee-Sprunt House
410 South Front Street

This circa 1884 home is a classic example of Italianate architecture. The beautiful wrap-around porch features a lattice-arched trellis, perfectly showcases a hanging fern basket. Salvaged antique-brick walkways provide sturdy footing throughout the entire tiered property. Podocarpus hedging frames the front porch and variegated liriope provides a colorful contrast as an edging plant. In the back, the large gravel parking area is colorfully edged with Knockout roses. Placed behind them, a row of large cycads forms a dark green contrast. Do not miss the two female cycads in this group. Boxwood lines the deep lawn drawing you to the gazebo in the corner, while on the next level a vegetable and fruit garden creates a haven for approximately two dozen American box turtle families. Notice the resurrection ferns growing happily on the brick and stone walls. These homeowners relish relaxing in the landscape they have created and taking advantage of their unforgettable river view.


#12 Gregg Thomas and Tom Faust
McClammy-Powell House
423 South Front Street

The McClammy-Powell house, circa 1914, is a neoclassical revival style home. Raised brick walls, topped with an iron fence, frame the wrap-around porch supported with fluted columns decorated with stylized acanthus leaves. Dentil molding, leaded glass transoms and sidelights with etched glass lilies enhance the entrance. The high-peaked gable roof, draperies and four antique planters complete the period atmosphere. The owners have designed three distinct seating areas fabulously styled and decorated on the expansive porch. To the left of the house is a large antique fountain with Lutyens style bench set off with pink flamingoes and boxwood-filled classic stone pots. Tucked next to the house on the right side is a welcoming pineapple fountain surrounded by ferns and a wall trough planter. A brick wall provides privacy for the large side yard, which is organized into two unique spaces. The pool area invites alfresco dining, lounging and enjoying the tiki bar. The maintenance free lawn area provides ample shaded seating and interesting statuary. The larger-than-life peacock symbolizes protection and watchfulness with his head facing the pool and his graceful large tail cascading to the lawn.

Upcoming Events

  • March 21 – New Member Orientation
  • March 24 – 10 – 4 PM – Coastal Living Show @ Wilmington Convention Center
  • March 27 – General Meeting
  • April 8 – Belle Tea
  • April 13-15 – Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour ©
  • April 15-16 – Garden Club of NC Spring Meeting – Chapel Hill, NC – See your email for registration information.
  • April 19-22 – NHC Master Gardener Plant Sale at NHC Arboretum
  • May 1 – General Meeting (this is the April Meeting)
  • May 8 – Garden Owners Luncheon
  • Sunday May 13 – Bird Islands Cruise
  • May 22 – May Luncheon
  • February 11, 2025 – Our Centennial