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Saturday, August 9, 2014

summer garden tours

One of my favorite things about spring and summer is all the gorgeous garden tours. I did several in Spain, primarily in the Alhambra and Generalife, but also just wandering through the Royal Gardens in Madrid, a random garden in the center of Malaga, and a few gardens in downtown Dublin.

Last weekend, I got to tour Wing Haven, a serene little backyard garden near downtown Charlotte, NC. Wing Haven was created and cultivated by Elizabeth and Edwin Clarkson. 

They started in 1927 with a house on a bare clay lot and exchanged bricks, bird baths, trees, and other plants to create a green haven for birds and butterflies and other wildlife. As time passed, they purchased the lots next door until they had 3.5 acres of gardens. 

They also took in birds that neighbors and friends brought them that needed care when they were injured or abandoned by their parents. 

One bluebird in particular, Tommy, was more of a house bird and remained a favorite family pet as he flew around the gardens and always returned to perch on Elizabeth's or Edwin's shoulders. 

The garden was full of elegant symmetry, which was juxtaposed with the rambling trees and vines that grew overgrown to provide shelter for the wildlife. 

Fountains were at every turn, with birds (and bugs) bathing in the refreshing water. 

And Peter Rabbit stopped his munching the grass to stare at us until he decided we weren't a threat, and then returned to his grazing. Because it was designed for the animals, the staff encourage everyone to be very quiet to promote a sense of peace. It's refreshing for people and I'm sure the bunnies and other creatures decide to stay within the walls because of the protection and food offered there.

If you get the chance, it is a lovely haven from the noise and bustle of the city. Just wear bug spray. I didn't and I definitely regretted it. :) Where have you gone this summer? What are your favorite summer retreats?

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