When Sarah Scott first started work at Haywood County Cooperative Extension in February 2015, planning for the 2016 Haywood County Garden Tour was one of the first items to come across her desk. Untold hours of preparation later, the horticulture extension agent and horde of volunteers working with her are days away from showing hundreds of people the best of Haywood’s gardens.
“Haywood County has some very talented gardeners and some very beautiful gardens,” Scott said. “I enjoyed going out and seeing so many of them. It was terrible to have to choose only a few.”
By Shannan Mashburn • SMN Intern
Gardeners, wannabe-gardeners and those who simply appreciate a fine garden can catch a behind-the-scenes peak of some of the best gardens in Haywood County during the upcoming Haywood County Garden Tour from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 23.
The tour of six private gardens hosted by the Haywood County Master Gardener Volunteers will begin at the historic dairy barn at the Mountain Research Station at 265 Test Farm Road. The Research Station is located across Raccoon Road from the N.C. Cooperative Extension Center in Waynesville.
An artistic marriage of fine gardens and fine art is on display now at Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86, with “Gardens, Mountains and Streams: An Artist’s View of the Haywood County Garden Tour” showing through April 28.
This intertwining of what constitutes two of life’s great passions for many people is the brainchild of Susan Greb, a master gardener in Haywood County, and is the work of the Haywood County Arts Council and the Haywood County Master Gardener Volunteer Association. The two organizations spearheaded the effort to create this unique show.
“The call went out to different artists — in all different mediums — and it all came together,” said Greb, who serves as one of the event coordinators. “It’s a really fun kind of exhibit.”
The Haywood County Master Gardener Volunteer Association selected the 12 exhibiting artists through a competitive process. Artists’ subject matter was focused on six private gardens to be featured on a June 23 garden tour in the county. The artists, working from photographs, were challenged to incorporate gardens, mountains and streams into their works.
“We were wondering how we could promote the garden tour,” said Cynthia Morris of the Haywood County Master Gardener Volunteer Association, explaining that artists were asked “to pick some facet of the gardens they really wanted to represent.”
Last year alone, more than 500 people participated in the Haywood County garden tour.
The art and gardens partnership includes a rain barrel project with the Haywood Waterways Association. That group is supplying rain barrels and the Blue Ridge Water Media Society and local high school students are painting them. Former arts council board member and volunteer Mary Alice Lodico is spearheading the rain barrel project.
This aspect of the show emphasizes the environmental component to gardening; the painted rain barrels will be available for purchase at $150 each during the Gallery 86 show and on the day of the garden tour. Sales benefit the Haywood Waterways Association and the Arts Council. Custom orders are also available.
The multi-partnership exhibition grew organically from a simple idea to the work of many people and groups.
“We’ve always looked for opportunities to partner with other organizations,” said Kay Miller, executive director of the Haywood County Arts Council. “And I thought this was a great idea.”
Miller described the exhibit as a true showcase of artists.
“We have a wide range of skills of the folks involved in the show,” Miller said. “And everybody has done a great job.”
For the artists, the project brought some special challenges. Metalworker Teresa Sizemore created an 18-inch tall exquisitely designed and rendered butterfly resting on black-eyed susans.
Sizemore is mainly self-taught but has taken a number of courses at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown.
The photograph she worked from did not include the blue butterfly — that she envisioned herself and added to complete the metal sculpture “and make more of a scene,” she said.
Sizemore hand-painted the butterfly’s body; the metal is recycled from a scrap metal shop in Asheville.
“I try to use as much recycled material as I can,” Sizemore said.
She first sketched out a blueprint of sorts and then used either metal shears or a plasma cutter to complete her work.
Sizemore described metal as “forgiving.”
“I really like working in metal because you can do anything you want,” she said, adding that you can cut out, grind out or add to metal as needed.
Susan Livengood, who studied art in college but took a bit of a detour for a time raising a family, worked in acrylics. She’s more used to working in oils, but time constraints solidified her decision to work in a slightly different medium. The artists picked their photographs in December. That didn’t leave a lot of time for the artists to actually compose and paint or work in whatever medium they are accustomed to working in.
“There just really wasn’t time for oils,” said Livengood, who has studio and gallery space in the old Fines Creek School.
Livengood, who has painted many flowers and botanical works, was lucky enough to have first choice of the photographs because she happened to be in town visiting on the day they were made available. One of her pieces is a close up of red flowers, the other is a more abstract composition of a stream with a Hindu-like statue at the top.
“I was more trying to catch the peacefulness of the water,” Livengood said. “It was kind of a Zen spot.”
Livengood’s pieces underscore her devotion to working in color: both pieces are vibrant expressions of garden scenes and are distinctly personal.
Nancy Blevins, silk dye painting, watercolor, mixed media; Scott Bradley, painting; Barbara Brook, painting; Rebecca Hellman, fused glass; Ansie Holman, clay; Suzanne Leclaire, painting; Susan Livengood, painting; Cheryl Megivern, painting; Lycia Murray, painting; Teresa Sizemore, metalwork; Mary Elizabeth Stith, painting; Kaaren Stoner, clay.
Who: Haywood County Arts Council
What: Gallery 86 exhibit entitled “Gardens, Mountains & Streams: An Artist’s View of the Haywood County Garden Tour.”
When: Wednesday, April 4 through Saturday, April 28. An artist’s reception will be held Friday, April 13 from 6-8 p.m.
Where: Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86 at 86 North Main Street in Waynesville.
For more information about the garden tour call the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service center at 828.456.3575. Garden tour tickets are available at the Arts Council’s Gallery 86 and other outlets.