It’s spring and the garden is certainly starting to burst with flowers. Daffodils, cherries, magnolias and many other plants are putting out a rainbow of color. Just like the flowers, people are starting to come out as well. On warm sunny days, they pop up everywhere in the garden enjoying the flowers, the fresh air, tram rides and all that the Garden offers. Like moths drawn to a flame, folks head for the big splashy displays of flowers. Right now those tend to be in the sunnier locations of the garden – my personal favorites as well. Normally I don’t mind seeing all those people. In fact I rather enjoy their company, but little girls in sun dresses can be almost as dangerous as gardeners when it comes to dandelion picking. So . . . I’ve headed to a more secluded area.
This place were I’ve landed is a wonderful secret right in the middle of everything. It is a small secluded patch of woodland trail. Normally it would just be a shady retreat in the summer – cool, lush and green. Evergreen shrubs wall in meandering paths while a southern red oak, a black cherry and a few loblolly pines create the shady overstory. Right now, in the spring, this place is completely different. The oak and cherry don’t have leaves, so the sun trickles through – enough to satisfy me at least. The shrubs include a variety of camellias so rich reds, glorious whites and shades of pinks sparkle on dark green leaves. Japanese Andromeda (Pieris) is the dominant shrub along these paths. The glossy dark green leaves are pretty, but at this time of year it is the dripping cascade of white bells that catch your eye. Most of them are full size and tower nine to twelve feet over my head. It is an impressive view right now. On the outer edges of this woodland is a row of camellias on one side and azaleas on the other, sunnier side. They are starting to bloom – white, electric pink and one that is a mix of the white and pink. Looking at them from here in the woods they really glow when the sun shines on them.
This wooded hideaway seems far from it all but it is actually quite close to the visitor center. It’s just a quick step from either the Sarah Lee Baker Perennial Garden or Renaissance Court. At one end of the walk is a sculpture of St. Francis with a pleasant green patina, surrounded by a many of the Japanese Andromeda. See if you can find me in the Figure Eight Garden.