As a trainee, newly accepted into the Master Garden Volunteer program – 2000, I perused the membership book reading about each of the 100 plus experienced Master Garden Volunteers’ gardening interests. When I got to the ‘L’s’ there was someone who listed “Hypertufa” as one of her interests. So it was to my delight, on my first day of ‘Phone Duty’ – I met Amelia Lane…
When I saw her name badge the words came gushing out “You have an interest in Hypertufa! What in the world is that?” So when Amelia beautifully explained that many English gardeners collect vintage troughs and plant in them to make micro climates for plants… I wanted to know more! In her calm, soothing voice she said “And there are ways to make them…”
I don’t think we stopped talking the whole three hours – when not answering consumer questions.
At the end of the session, Amelia asked, “Do you have any interest in volunteering at the Arboretum?”
As those who know me, well understand that I have been known to jump into things with both feet, I answered, “I would love to! (beat) Which arboretum?”
“Well,” Amelia graciously answered, “The JC Raulston Arboretum. We meet every Wednesday to work in the Mixed Border.”
My life was forever changed.
Amelia is one of the most well-respected plantswoman in the region. Whenever we are at a conference, or nursery, and the folks learn her name… there’s a polite gasp… “You’re AMELIA LANE!” … a hushed whisper goes around the room, “We’ve heard about your garden!” “How are things at JC Raulston?” And we are treated as Gardening Royalty.
Amelia never seems to notice as she’s always engaged asking a pertinent horticultural question keenly interested in the person she’s speaking with, or too busy keeping her eyes peeled for a ‘Cool Plant” or something on her collector’s wish list. ( I can just imagine when she reads this she’ll be shaking her head and think ‘Really?’, but will not dwell on her notoriety – her mind will just move on to a new horticultural adventure. And I hope it includes me!)
Amelia & I, continued to have phone duty together for several years; and meeting most Wednesdays at the JCRA where she is the Curator of the Mixed Border and also serves on the Board of Directors at the JC Raulston Arboretum.
Amelia is my garden mentor and friend.
She passionately gardens Under the Loblolly Pines
Jayme: What is your first memory in a garden?
Amelia: Helping my mother with her flower border and the fragrant sweet peas that she grew.
What is it that got you started gardening or on a career path?
For many years I had a vegetable garden and then I began volunteering at Wing Haven in Charlotte. I met so many avid gardeners and learned about such wonderful. Gardening was contagious and I definitely caught the bug!!
I loved reading Elizabeth Lawrence books, using Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, and books on native NC plants.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I love visiting other people’s gardens, public gardens, and riding along country roads seeing unique garden ideas.
Do you collect plants and if so what?
I guess I do collect plants – there are so many interesting ones!! I especially like dwarf conifers, native wildflowers, and bulbs of all kinds.
New for this year is a garden gate, crafted by metal artist, Wayne Webb. I am thrilled to have one of his creations and look forward to enjoying it every time I walk down the path.
Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden.
During the winter, I most often view the garden from our den’s large picture window. I can watch the birds bathe and the chipmunks scurry about and dream or plan or just enjoy.
Any favorite Garden tools?
Definitely my Felco pruners. I don’t go into the garden without them!
What is your mulch preference?
I use leaf mulch from the city of Raleigh.
How much time do you spend working in your garden?
As much as I possibly can – way too much a husband might say!
I enjoy my garden in different ways, down on my hands and knees getting a close up view of new growth, sitting on a bench in the winter sun, walking out to get the mail. There is always something new to see, discover, and enjoy.
If money were no object what would you add or do differently?
I would hire an arborist to delicately remove some trees and perhaps replace some old hardscape.
Do you have garden wisdom’ to share?
Enjoy whatever size and type of garden that you have and be aware of what nature is sharing with us.
Under the Loblolly Pines
This half-acre garden is enclosed by a canopy of native loblolly pines. The more open, front garden has a mixed planting of conifers, Japanese maples, and unique trees, shrubs, and perennials, many acquired as a member of the JC Raulston Arboretum. In back, the shady woodland garden features native azaleas, dogwoods, wildflowers, and hellebores offering a delightful beginning to spring. Rock-lined paths lead past native wildflowers, conifers, and spring blooming shrubs. Our garden is a daily source of learning, pleasure, and surprises. We are happy to share it with you. …Amelia Lane
In the meantime visit Amelia’s garden this weekend:
Check back next week and I’ll feature a story on Amelia & Beth’s Hypertufa.
Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife