Talk of the Town - Garden Party July 21 2005

Linda Edwards' retreat is right outside her back door

When master gardener Linda Edwards began planning her own garden at her Norcross home, it was clear that she intended to incorporate not just her love of native Atlanta foliage, but to create a space that was a welcoming environment for her family as well.

While the most charming aspect of the garden is the collection of stepping stones created by the Cub Scout troop she once led, the garden also includes a tree house, a meditation area, and room for her Brittany Spaniel to play around. The garden, like Linda herself, is sunny and colorful, with flora including Solomon's seal, pipsissewa, hearts-a-burstin, wintergreen, tupelo, styrax americanus, and several varieties of trillium.

Creative Loafing: Have you gardened anywhere else?

Edwards: I've lived and gardened in Chicago, Canada and Maryland. When I moved here, I packed plants. Gardening in Atlanta was much different than it had been anywhere else. There were no worms in the soil! Only after working with it for a while could I develop a rich brown soil in the yard.

What is different about your Atlanta garden?

I included a lot of native plants. It was important to me to preserve the natural ecosystem, and the native plants are much lower maintenance. I've also rescued a lot of plants from around the area. The garden is an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat site, certified by the National Wildlife Federation because it includes the necessary food, water and shelter areas for the native wildlife. It was also certified by the Georgia Native Plant Society.

You're very involved in the community through your gardening.

My friend Julie Foster and I own a landscape design and consulting company, Gardens By Design. We also teach a course on gardening for senior citizens at [Georgia] Perimeter College, in addition to volunteering around the area.

What is your favorite aspect of the garden?

I think it would be the garden itself. I love how even inside the house the garden is visible, and that really seems to draw people out into it. I also really enjoy the area in the back corner, because it's very secluded and totally covered in shade. It's like a meditation area. It is definitely the most relaxing part of the garden.

When planning the garden, what did you do to make sure it remained family-oriented?

It was incredibly important to me to make the garden a place my whole family could enjoy. My kids love the playhouse we have. In the meditation area, I've included stepping stones made for me by my Cub Scouts. Each stone has a different word on it and the message reads "May The Cub Scout Force Be With You."