Weymouth Gardens & Longleaf Pines

GardensThe following is an excerpt from a letter written by Charlotte Gantz, Doyen of the Weymouth Gardens, to the Carolina Gardener magazine.

The gardens came into being in the early twenties when Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities was the home of James Boyd, a popular writer during the early part of the last century. Following his widow’s death, the property was acquired in 1976 by the Friends of Weymouth, and the house is now used as a writers’ retreat, as well as for the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. The original gardens were restored by Elizabeth Ives (Adlai Stevenson’s sister) and Helen Greene, an active local gardener. Since then they have been kept up entirely by volunteers with financial help from the local garden clubs, the Carolina Writers’ and Poets’ Associations and generous private contributions.

The chief attraction is probably the two parallel long beds filled with bulbs, perennials and annuals. These have frequently been described as being close to an English cottage garden. They lack any formal planning, but we try to provide a riot of color from March through November since they are a setting for the many weddings performed throughout the season. They also get a great deal of use from the general public as well. The beds lead to two pools filled with an unusually beautiful array of tropical lotuses and water lilies. They are backed by a serpentine wall copied from Jefferson’s home at Monticello. Late February sees a long line of weeping Japanese cherries near there in full bloom.

Sam Ragan, a past North Carolina poet laureate, was deeply involved in Weymouth from its beginning in 1979 until his death, and he emphasized its role in supporting writers. Because of this, two large sections, “The Poet’s Garden,” and “The Writer’s Retreat,” have been planted especially for their benefit, although open to the general public. Azaleas, rhododendrons and many other flowering shrubs under longleaf pines fill both areas. The Poet’s Garden has an arbor with chairs and a table for the use of writers, and the Garden for Meditation is included in the Writer’s Retreat. The latter contains a museum copy of one of the earliest Buddhas dating from the 6th century B.C.

Many small beds have other uses. Some are filled with native flowers, some with hostas, some with herbs. One acre is devoted to wild life, being given over to native trees and shrubbery, and resulting in small wilderness (nothing park-like about it!). Flowers that will attract butterflies are found throughout since this is a major concern. The Butterfly Nursery emphasizes the need for caterpillar food. Witch’s Gardens are found in many parts of England.

I’m told that I have to add the fact that I’ve worked in the gardens for nearly twenty years, and usually work (really work) four mornings a week in spite of being 95.  We need volunteers to help in the gardens.  If you are able, please come on either Tuesday or Friday morning of any week – the Dirt Gardeners begin work at 8:30 am.  Thank you.