This post was written by Kristin G
If you’re the type of person who sees a beautiful garden and can’t wait to get home and incorporate some of the ideas you’ve seen into your own backyard, take the garden tour some year at the Azalea Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina. I’ve been lucky enough to have lived in Wilmington since 1998 and this tour is the highlight of the year for me.
Of course you can also attend the street fair on the beautiful Cape Fear River, or attend one or two of the “big name” concerts given in the auditorium of the UNCW campus, or take the home tour of some of the gorgeously restored homes in the downtown area, or attend the parade chock full of princesses and queens from local communities, etc., etc., but to my taste the garden tour beats all the other festivities.
A ribbon cutting at the most impressive house on the Friday of the festival starts the tour and can be attended by anybody who buys the $15 (early bird) or $20 ticket. Every cent of the proceeds which is collected by the Cape Fear Garden Club goes back to community beautification and conservation.
Not only is the home surrounded by colorful gardens exuding Southern charm, but it is adorned with high school-age belles, dressed in handmade antebellum hooped gowns, holding their delicate parasols and escorted by the extremely handsome Summerall Guards from the Citadel, South Carolina’s state-supported military college. Lording over all these youths is the queen who is the center of attention for the week.
But for me, the best part is the exploring of the gardens on the tour, which range from the manicured lawns and flower beds professionally done by landscape artists, to the hidden “secret gardens” in small spaces overflowing with the imagination of dedicated gardeners. As an added bonus, each garden has one or two of the belles welcoming you, usually with her skirt spread out under the shade of a live oak tree and her curls bouncing under her parasol.
If the hot sun gets to you, a few of the gardens are designated as “night-time” gardens and there is a magical quality walking through these special places which makes you realize how beautiful a spring evening in the South can be. As you can see Iâ€™ve been completely won over by the charm and friendliness of my new home state!