A family of raccoons took up residence near the giraffe fence at back of the gardens recently. Early in the mornings and late in the day you can hear the owls from the nearby old gin hooting. Towering Chinese varnish trees and oak trees provide shade for all of the residents and for our many visitors from across the country who come to see the studio and the gardens.
Visitors have described the gardens in many ways. Serene, peaceful, and elegant are often heard adjectives. Asked frequently is the question, "how do you get all these different plants and bushes to grow and thrive here?" Lee was known to answer, "Benign neglect!"
When you come visit be sure to allow time for a leisurely stroll through these internationally acclaimed gardens and find your own adjective to describe them.
Entering the studio through a tunnel in a wall of bamboo, you proceed out through the original barn doors into a well-organized jungle of plants, trees, terraces, cypress fences and fountains. The first brick terrace was laid by Pup McCarty and one helper by hand shortly after taking up residence in the Barn. Lee laid out the gardens over the years in geometric patterns, influenced heavily by Mondrian designs. A pool and a water garden each provide an aquamarine focus in their respective sections for the copious greenery. The design is an example of "blending" natives with exotics that adds textured interest and flair without disrupting the total harmony within the acres of gardens. The texture is reflected in the myriad shades of green you see as you walk through the terraces. The plants are not the only residents of the gardens. If you look carefully you will see purple martins flying through the crepe myrtles to their white gourd homes. Goldfish the size of carp cruise the pond and fountain weaving their ways though brilliant blue Brazilian water lilies. A leopard frog loafs on a root under a lily leaf and booms his call now and then.