Open Days Program – Labor of Love


A small  inclined suburban corner property— chocked full of ideas, a garden executed impeccably on a corner lot — creates a sanctuary for this charming do it yourself duo.

 What do you call your garden?

We don’t have a formal name though we often affectionately call it a “labor of love”. Friends suggested calling it things like “Sandy’s Sanctuary”, but I couldn’t do “Sandy’s” anything since my husband works just as hard (or harder) than I do in the garden making the garden very much both of ours.  Sandy & Ewell Morgan Morgan’s Garden

How long have you been gardening at this location?

18 years. We started the garden after our new screen porch and deck were built which were started the same week that Hurricane Fran hit. The yard was mostly a wooded lot with large trees and azaleas. Some of our trees were removed courtesy of Fran so we’re glad we started the garden afterwards.

What to you consider your gardening Style?

Not sure about what style but enjoy a “lush” garden but not one that feels wild and overgrown. We both like a garden that’s well maintained and neat and not cluttered.


What kind of conditions do you garden in?

Red clay mostly with wet areas in the back.


Do you have any challenges in your garden?

We have problems with deer, rabbits, and voles eating plants. The “I Must Garden” product has been a big help preventing damage from deer and our cat helps with the other two. We also have drainage problems from a neighbor’s yard, but Ewell has come up with some creative solutions including a wonderful wooden walk that water flows under.

What is the first thing you added, removed or changed in this garden?

We took down several large gum ball trees and started on the garden and paths behind the house.

Do you collect plants and if so what?

I love shade perennials (since mostly a shade garden) with my initial love being hostas. Sadly hostas were the deer’s love also so gave up on them until we found a product that helped. We also have many hydrangeas.

What are favorite garden tools?

Sandy: A hand pruner and plastic bucket for trimmings.

Ewell: The Mantis rototiller! It’s a gardening dream. It’s my mule! The Mantis (“Attila”) is a wonderful mixing tool in a wheelbarrow.

How much time do you spend working in your garden?

Weather permitting 4-5 hours/day in the Spring (especially if preparing for a tour), 1-2 hours/day in Summer, and 1-2 hours in Fall. We rest along with the plants in the winter.

What is your mulch preference?

We prefer double or triple shredded hardwood mulch. Ewell picks up and applies a truckload (1.5 yards) at a time rather than having a large load dumped in the yard or on the drive.


Anything new added to your garden?

Ewell: I found a wrought iron gate at Habitat Restore and worked it into an existing fence.

Sandy: I found a great wrought iron mirror at a local consignment store.


What is your first memory in a garden?

Sandy: My parents last house in Charleston, SC, that was full of azaleas and Impatiens. Both of my parents liked to work in the garden.

Ewell: Growing up in Virginia, our farm garden provided us various vegetables for home use (canning and/or preserves).


What is it that got you started gardening?

Sandy:I started with houseplants after college and then moved outdoors.

Ewell: Sandy’s interest with our development of the shade garden and paths.


How many Gardens have you had?

Sandy: I’ve added gardens in homes I’ve owned starting with a house in Charleston, SC, then in Cary. This is my biggest garden.

Ewell: This is my first real garden.


Where do you go for inspiration?

Other people’s gardens especially ones on tours.

Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?

Tony Avent’s Plant Delights  is a favorite Mother’s Day outing.

Do you have a favorite Garden Publication?

Sandy: I always enjoy “Triangle Gardener”.

Who is your Horticultural Hero?

Tony Avent with his shade garden, hardscapes and paths.

Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden

We both enjoy sitting on a wrought iron bench under a maple tree near the road where we can chat with neighbors walking by.


If money were no object what would you add or do differently?

We’ve talked about putting a semicircular drive in the front yard, adding a stone wall near the large pine tree where irises are, and adding a pond at the lower deck area.

Do you have ‘garden wisdom’ to share?

Sandy: My biggest gardening challenge is deciding where to put a plant based on mature size, color, texture, lighting needs, etc. As hard as I try to place plants properly the first time, I’ve learned that it’s OK to move them if needed sort of like furniture (Ewell doesn’t like this philosophy!)

Ewell: It’s a challenge to fulfill Sandy’s approach!

Or anything you’d like to say about your garden?

It’s truly a team effort. I’m the brains, and he’s the brawn! I plan the design, plantings, prune, water, weed, fertilize, and day-to-day TLC.  —Ewell digs the holes, amends the soil, removes leaves, mulches, and more. Being a farm boy from Virginia, he can dig a hole and use a pitchfork!




Cary, Raleigh, and Wake Forest  Open Days
Saturday, May 17 | 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 18 | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit seven private gardens in Cary, Wake Forest, and Raleigh, , NC.

The JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina University in Raleigh will also be welcoming visitors.

Admission: $7 per garden
Discounted admission tickets (6 tickets for $35 general / $21 Garden Conservancy members) will be available in advance at the JC Raulston Arboretum (4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh). Admission to the Arboretum is free.

Open Days are self-guided and proceed rain or shine.
No reservations are required.

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

J.C. Raulston Arboretum Volunteer


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